immediate effect

"War." That was the headline on the conservative blog “Right Michigan” following the state Senate’s vote this week to approve the Medicaid expansion. The GOP right, the Tea Party, say this is a vote that will not be forgotten – political collusion with the loathed and dreaded Obamacare by eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to get it passed.

Make that nine Tea Party targets if you count Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who was not forced to but stood ready to cast a tie-breaking vote if it was needed to get the expansion passed.

Last week, we outlined the political challenges facing Calley and, since then, a Tea Party opponent emerged. Wes Nakagiri says he is putting together a campaign to oust and replace Calley next year at a Republican state convention.

Calley, meanwhile, has gone on counter-offense, adopting the vernacular of the Tea Party, and sending out communications heavily laden with words like “freedom,” “liberty,” and “conservative.” He is also touting the endorsement of Congressman Justin Amash, a favorite of the “liberty” wing of the Republican coalition.

All of this is an effort to begin to re-set the conversation after the Senate vote. But there is still more road to travel before the Medicaid expansion is complete. The state House must adopt the Senate version to get it to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.  The governor is actually delaying a trade-building mission to China and Japan to be on hand. (Remember, he rushed back from Israel after the Medicaid expansion stalled in the Senate earlier this summer.) It’s a good bet he’d like to sign the bill before joining the trade trip later in the week.

Barbara Byrum / Facebook

The Michigan Court of Appeals has sided with House Republicans in the dispute over the "immediate effect" rule in that chamber.

"Immediate effect" allows bills to become effective right after the Governor signs them. The Michigan Constitution requires that bills go into effect 90 days after the end of a legislative session unless two-thirds of the legislature supports the bill.

Democrats in the House say Republican leaders have not been allowing these immediate effect votes to go forward. They took the issue to court last March.

Today's ruling is another blow to their effort to stop the practice.

From the Detroit Free Press:

In an opinion released today, a three-member panel of the appeals court sent the lawsuit back to Ingham County Circuit Court with instructions that it be dismissed.

The court said taking a voice vote is in compliance with the House rules, which the courts do not oversee.

We asked political analysts Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema about the hullabaloo last April. Here's what they had to say:

According to Sikkema, more than 90% of bills passed in the last 25 or 30 years got immediate effect. “I was elected in 1986, and the first 6 years I was in the House I was in the minority…the same thing occurred to me that House Democrats are complaining about today.”

So, could there be backlash for Republicans? “That’s certainly what House Democrats are aiming for here,” Demas says. “This is part of their ongoing, Republican corruption theme, and their assertion that they [Republicans] are not doing a good job.

Michigan Municipal League / flickr

Every Thursday we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week it’s all about the politics and policy behind immediate effect, and why it's gotten some national attention.

Hundred of bills have passed in the Michigan legislature with immediate effect tacked on. Democrats have cried foul, and issued a court challenge accusing Republicans of not taking required roll call votes.

This gets into a lot of procedural specifics and we’ve been reporting on this for a couple of weeks. Then suddenly, it hits the national stage when Rachel Maddow, a MSNBC host, picked up the story. Maddow called it “revolutionary and radical beyond radical.”

Demas says, “I think Maddow needs to calm down and maybe spend a little time in Michigan before she starts reporting on the intricacies of legislative procedure here.”

GEO

University of Michigan graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) have wanted to hold a vote asking other GSRAs whether or not a union should be formed for decades.

In the past, they've been prevented from holding a vote because the Michigan Employment Relations Commission has not allowed a vote to go forward.

Most recently they were prevented from doing so because of a new state law banning GSRAs from forming unions at public universities in Michigan.

But the timing of when that new law goes into effect has been hotly contested in the courts.

It's a long, sordid tale that involves parliamentary rules in the State House.

An Ingham County judge had ruled the law cannot go into effect immediately, so the Commission scheduled a vote on the UM GSRA unionization vote.

But the Court of Appeals stayed the Ingham County judge's ruling on Monday, restoring the immediate effect of the GSRA unionization ban.

So today, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission decided to table a vote on whether to allow the UM GSRAs to go forward with a unionization vote.

In a 2-1 vote, the Commission said any action they take on the issue would be moot because of the latest court ruling.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Court of Appeals has stayed a temporary restraining order that favored Democrats in a procedural spat with House Republicans.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Clinton Canady III last week issued the order aimed at ensuring Republicans follow certain procedures when granting what is called "immediate effect" to bills approved by lawmakers.

That status determines how quickly a new law kicks in once signed by the governor.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Court of Appeals may rule today in a dispute about how State House Republicans are passing bills.    

House Republicans have tacked on “immediate effect” provisions on more than 500 bills this year.  That means the bills will become law as soon as Governor Snyder signs them. But Democrats complain the “immediate effect” provisions are being added without the constitutionally required two-thirds vote.

user brother_o'mara / Flickr

No clear path forward in Detroit

Detroit City Council met yesterday afternoon and did not vote on a proposed financial stability agreement with the state. Instead, as Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports, the meeting "started out with a contentious public hearing about union contracts, and ended in a confusing mess of court challenges—with no clear answer about how the whole process will go forward."

Council is expected to meet again today starting at 10 a.m.

Gov. Snyder has said his deadline for deciding whether or not to appoint an emergency manager is this Thursday (April 5).

And today at 2 p.m., according to the Detroit Free Press, a federal court will hear arguments about whether Gov. Snyder's "pressure on the city to scrap ratified [union] contracts violates federal due-process rights and contract clauses in the federal and state constitutions."

A separate court hearing on potential violations of the state's open meetings act is set to take place next week (April 11). As Sarah Cwiek reports:

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuck has ordered the review team not to approve or even discuss a consent agreement before an April 11 hearing.

The court order was called “disturbing” by officials in Gov. Snyder's office. They say they will appeal.

Judge blocks legislative maneuvers by State House Republicans

Republicans in the State House have passed 500 bills with "immediate effect" provisions. With this provision, laws go into effect immediately after the Governor signs them, rather than waiting 90 days after the legislative session ends.

To pass an "immediate effect" bill, the legislative body needs a super-majority, which it does not have. 

Democrats in the State House sued, saying the Republican majority in the State House refuses to hold recorded votes on "immediate effect" bills.

As Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady granted a temporary injunction against the legislative maneuver. Her order blocks the implementation of three bills already signed into law.

An emergency manager for Muskegon Heights schools?

With a projected deficit of more than $9 million, a state financial review team is recommending that Gov. Snyder appoint an emergency manager for the school system.

Unlike Detroit, an EM appointment here is not likely to be controversial. The school board took the unusual step of asking for an emergency manager appointment last December.

Gov. Snyder has ten days to act on the review team's recommendation. If one is appointed, the Muskegon Heights schools emergency manager would be the seventh emergency manager operating in the state.

 A judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking a legislative maneuver that state House Republicans have been using this year.

The state House has passed more than 500 bills this year with a provision that the bills take effect as soon as the governor signs them.    State House Democrats sued, claiming the Republican leadership ignored their requests for votes to delay implementation of the bills.

Attorney Michael Hodge represents the House Democrats.  He says the House Republican leadership has been shutting out the minority party.

Matthileo / Flickr

This week Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I took a look at the hullabaloo over vote counting at the state Capital.

A political fight between Republicans and Democrats at the state Capitol has landed in court. Democrats in the state House say Republicans in the majority are violating the Michigan Constitution. The lawsuit says the House GOP majority refuses to hold recorded votes on a procedure that requires super-majorities to pass. It allows bills to become effective upon being signed by the governor.

Otherwise, bills cannot become law until 90 days after the end of a legislative session. The minority party often uses that to slow down controversial measures.

“We feel the constitution’s been violated over the past year plus and we have not been allowed to have immediate effect votes," says House Democratic Leader Rick Hammell.

A judge has ordered Republicans to show up in court on Monday to explain why they won’t hold recorded votes on the procedure. Democrats will ask the judge to order record roll call votes.

Republican leaders say they have complied with the constitution.

For the last fifteen months, Republicans have controlled everything in sight in Lansing -- the House, the Senate, the governor’s office and the Supreme Court.

They have the majorities to pass essentially anything they want, and even if something is constitutionally controversial, they are secure in the knowledge that it’s almost certain that the disgracefully partisan Michigan Supreme Court will rule in their favor.