The League of Women Voters of Michigan often takes positions on legislative or citizen initiatives and other proposed governmental policy or regulatory decisions. If an initiative reaches a legislative committee, a voting body or other decision makers, the League may take action (testimony, letters, phone calls, public statements, etc). The lack of public action is not indicative of the numerous decisions to support or oppose an issue that the League makes on a regular basis.
February 16, 2017: OPPOSE ELIMINATION OF STATE INCOME TAX
HB 4001 has been recommended for passage by the MI House of Representative's House Policy Committee. This bill would reduce the income tax amount from 4.25% to 3.9% on January 1, 2018 and then reduce the annual rate by one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) until the rate reaches zero. The tax would be entirely eliminated over the next 39 years. The bill would cut revenues by $680 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and $1.2 billion in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. No cuts in budgets were discussed. According to Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri tax law changes have reduced Michigan state and local taxes by $2.8 billion in total since 2011. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the tax cut will greatly benefit wealthy MI citizens. The average tax cut in ten years by household income for households earning between $0 to $21,000 will be $56 and for the top 1% the tax cut will be $13,573 a year. The income tax accounted for about 67% of the general fund and 22% of the school aid revenue in FY2016. There is no replacement for the lost revenue. Funds for local units of government, services for people in need and the education of our children would be at risk. The League of Women Voters of Michigan has a taxation and budgeting position that states: All three broad-based taxes on income, sales and property should be relied upon, with more reliance on the income tax. Therefore, the LWVMI Board of Directors voted to oppose HB 4001 and urges League friends and members to contact their legislators to oppose this bill.
December 5, 2016: OPPOSE NEW VOTER ID REQUIREMENTS
State Representatives should be persuaded to oppose HB 6066, 6067 ad 6068 that institute a photo ID requirement for virtually all voters. The new bills require the person who does not present ID when voting to get a provisional ballot and in order for the vote to be counted, the voter must then visit the clerk's office in person within 10 days with a valid ID. The League works to ensure that all eligible voters – particularly those from traditionally underrepresented or underserved communities, including first-time voters, non-college youth, new citizens, minorities and low-income Americans – have the opportunity and the information they need to exercise their right to vote. Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have a government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters and students. (Brennan Center). The League actively opposes voter photo ID laws, advocates against barriers to the voter registration process, and supports improvements and voting technology and modernization of our current system.
November 30, 2016: SUPPORT MICHIGAN'S NEW ENERGY POLICY
On November 30th, League members were urged to contact their State Representative about the future of Michigan’s energy policy. The legislature will soon be discussing Senate Bills 437 and 438 have moved this discussion in the right direction. They would increase our renewable energy standards from 10% to 15 %. There are three improvements that will make sure ratepayers have affordable, reliable and clean energy: 1) Homeowners that invest in solar panels to reduce their electricity bills by generating their own clean, renewable energy should not be penalized with proposed new fees. 2) The energy we don’t use saves us money. Include energy efficiency standards to encourage utility companies to use more renewable energy. 3) Stand behind the 15% renewable energy standard to bolster Michigan’s clean energy sector, creating new jobs. We urge our representatives to support policies tha reduce energy demand and rely on renewal resources.
June 13, 2016: N0 PUBLIC MONEY FOR PRIVATE & PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS
Members were urged to contact Governor Snyder and ask him to line-item VETO the public school money for private and parochial schools. The Michigan Constitution prohibits public money for private and parochial schools. Additionally, the League of Women Voters of Michigan's position is "Public funds should not be used for nonpublic education except for shared time in the public schools, auxiliary services and transportation." The budget bill passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor adds Section 152B which appropriates up to $2.5 million for 2016-2017 that can be used to reimburse costs incurred by nonpublic schools as identified in the Nonpublic School Mandate Report published by the Michigan Department of Education in November 2014.
May 25, 2016: URGE GOVERNOR TO VETO SB 776
SB 776 was passed to make it more difficult to gather the needed signatures for a petition to initiate legislation, amend the constitution, or invoke the right of referendum. The bill removes the ability to challenge the exclusion of petition signatures and establishes a limited 180-day timeframe to get signatures.The current law has not been a problem. Numerous times citizens have met the threshold as now required and the system has not been abused. Therefore, there is no need to change the current law. It should not be made more difficult for citizens to participate in our democratic process. Members were sent the alert to urge the Governor to veto this bill that makes citizen participation in democracy harder.
April 9, 2016: OPPOSE ST. CLAIR PIPELINE
League members and supporters were urged to tell Governor Snyder to oppose the St. Clair pipleline by Plains LPG Services, LP, and to relay that opposition to the Secretary of State's office. Permits for the operation and maintenance of pipelines at borders of the United States are delegated to the U.S. Secretary of State's Office. Public comments are being taken until April 14 on the permit request for the Plains LPG Services pipelines to operate under the St. Clair River. Two of the pipelines are 98 years old and inactive. Under federal regulations, inactive pipelines are not subject to environmental review or inspection. The anticipated use is for hydrocarbon gases, but the company is asking for renewal of the original permit which permitted crude oil. The St. Clair pipelines are inactive and not necessary, we do not know the condition of these pipelines, and the permit requested is not clear.
December 22, 2015: URGE GOVERNOR TO VETO SB 571
The League urged members and friends of the League to tell the Governor to veto SB 571- the bill that would gag certain people from providing election information and fail to improve campaign finance reporting. Additonally, this bill could limit the ability of the League to use public access television and elected officials to provide information on ballot issues. The League opposes this bill because: 1) it prohibits public bodies from providing factual information on ballot issues 60 days prior to the election. It is already illegal for public officials to advocate on these issues. Local officials would be severely hampered in their efforts to educate voters on local millages, millage renewals or bonds. 2) It prohibits public access communication including television that references a local ballot question. It would seem to put every public access broadcast of a city council or school board meeting at risk for violating this new provision. There is also no allowance for a public broadcast of a debate or voter forum, even if that forum is hosted by a third party, according to the Michigan Municipal League. This could eliminate the League from providing ballot information on public access television. 3) It doesn't address the problem of independent expenditures not being reported until months after the election, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
December 8, 2015: SB 13 WOULD ELIMINATE STRAIGHT PARTY TICKET VOTING
League members and followers were urged to write to their Michigan Representatives urging a NO vote on SB 13, a bill that would end straight party ticket voting in Michigan. The League opposes the elimination of straight¬ party ticket voting because: 1. it minimizes options available to voters who clearly draw lines down partisan lines – this applies to both parties and across the state in urban, rural and suburban precincts, 2. it leads to longer lines at the polls, which disenfranchises voters – according to the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation for longest wait in line, 3. it leads to incomplete voting that suppresses the vote – the Citizen’s Research Council reports that, “A single voter is asked in an election cycle to vote on between 54 and 150 officials of state government and the judiciary and from 23 to 37 local government officials” and; 4. it increases the cost for elections because additional machines need to be purchased and more staff. The League of Women Voters supports election laws that make accessible and convenient for all citizens to participate.
December 1, 2015: SB 561 WOULD ELIMINATE THE PURPOSE OF GUN-FREE ZONES
On December 1, 2015, the League urged members and others to urge their Michigan Senator to vote no on SB 561, a bill that destroys the purpose of gun free zones. This bill would prohibit "open carry" in gun-free zones such as schools, churches and hospitals BUT would allow people with concealed pistol licenses to carry a concealed firearm in those facilities. The League of Women Voters of Michigan opposes SB 561 because: a) it does not protect citizens and b) it does not raise the bar of competence.
June 8, 2015: HB 4609 WOULD ELIMINATE MICHIGAN'S EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT
The Michigan House of Representatives is getting ready to end Michigan's Earned Income Tax Credit in order to fund roads. This is an important program for the working program. The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit was signed into law by President Ford in 1975 and, in 1986, President Reagan expanded the program. Michigan established its program in 2006. The League of Women Voters of Michigan opposes HB 4609 because LWV supports policies that promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families. Members and friends of the League are urged to contact their member of the Michigan House of Representatives and ask her/him to oppose passage of HB 4609 and to continue Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit program.
January 2, 2015: SB 78 WOULD END THE USE OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
SB 78, passed by the Michigan House and Senate during the lame duck session, would restrict Michigan's Dept. of natural Resources from classifying or managing the biodiversity of the state land and undermine good management plans. League members were urged to send a message to Governor Snyder urging him to veto SB 78. Biological diversity promotes a healthy environment. Natural resources should be managed as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems. Protective and wise management of our forests to produce bountiful timber, shelter wildlife and create recreational opportunities require a balanced approach. This benefits the environment and all Michiganders lives.
December, 2014: 'RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION" LEGISLATION IS A RECIPE FOR DESCRIMINATION
League members and friends of the League have contcted their state senators urging them to oppose passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, HB 5958. The bill as passed by the MI House of Representatives gives permission for discrimination based on religious beliefs. Read the suggested text here.
December 2014: ROAD REPAIR FUNDING PLAN SHOULD NOT RESULT IN CUTS TO SCHOOLS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
League members were urged to contact their Michigan legislators and urge them to construct a funding plan for road repairs that does not result in a reduction in school or local government funding. Read the suggested text here.
August, 2014: TELL GUBERNATORIAL AND US SENATE CANDIDATES TO PARTICIPATE IN DEBATES
The League urged the public to contact the candidates for Governor and urge them to participate in the LWV's meeting to negotiate a debate. The League of Women Voters of Michigan has offered to host Gubernatorial debate schedule negotiations and invited Governor Snyder and Congressman Mark Schauer to a meeting at the League office for the purpose of negotiating a debate schedule for the two campaigns. The Schauer campaign has accepted. The Snyder campaign hasn't replied to the League's offer as of September 8, 2014.
Additionally, candidates for the US Senate should be urged to participate in a debate on October 9th to which both were invited. The League of Women Voters of Michigan and of the Grand Traverse Area invited Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land to participate in a televised debate on October 9 in Traverse City. It would be available to voters across the state of Michigan. The Peters campaign has accepted. The Land campaign hasn't committed as of September 8, 2014.
Voters will see a lot of political ads from all sides between now and Election Day Debates will help voters cut through the rhetoric and get to hear from the candidates in their own words and more fully understand where the candidates stand on important issues.
August, 2014: LET THE VOTERS DECIDE ABOUT WOLF HUNTS
Using the LWVUS position on Representative Government, LWVMI urged all its members and friends of the League to immediately contact their state Senators and Representatives to urge them to take no action on the petition submitted by the Citizens for Wildlife Management. While the League of Women Voters does not have a position on the wolf petition--we are concerned that the Legislature is taking away the opportunity for voters to vote on this issue of allowing wolves to be hunted. The petition will undermine a referendum of Public Act 21 of 2013, that allows the Natural Resources Commission to name what animals can be hunted.
July, 2014: LWVMI SUPPORTS PROPOSAL 14-1
LWVMI supports passage of "State Proposal 14-1, Approval or Disapproval of Amendatory Act to reduce State Use Tax and replace with a local community stabilization share to modernize the tax system to help small businesses grow and create jobs." LWVMI bases its support on the importance of reimbursing local units of government. If the Personal Property Tax (PPT) on businesses is eliminated, funding to local governments will be reduced. This ballot proposal is an attempt to insure that local governments are at least partially reimbursed for that loss. Read the complete Action Alert here.
February, 2014: PROPOSED IRS REGULATIONS TO STOP 'DARK MONEY' ALSO JEOPARDIZE LWV'S VOTER SERVICE ACTIVITIES
League members in Michigan and all over the country were urged to submit comments to the IRS about new, proposed regulations to stop "dark money” polluting our elections. We have seen too much abuse by fly-by-night 501(c)(4) organizations and it is harming our democracy. We need real transparency and tough rules to stop “candidate-related political activity” by these organizations. At the same time, the current IRS proposal must be changed to make sure that truly nonpartisan voter service activities by the League of Women Voters can continue. The existing standards currently applied to 501(c)(3) organizations governing nonpartisan election activities should also be applied to (c)(4) organizations.
Please visit the League of Women Voters of the US for the latest action alerts.