In a nutshell, the story is that the Michigan Constitution requires that bills wait until the end of the session -- essentially, the end of the calendar year -- plus 90 days before becoming law. You can, however, put a bill into effect immediately, provided you have a two-thirds majority in both chambers. Republicans have that super-majority in the Senate, but not in the House. Yet they appear to have given nearly every bill since they took over in January 2010 immediate effect.
Michigan Republicans have applied immediate effect even to legislation Democrats have opposed in a block, from taking away domestic partner benefits (pdf) to blocking the expansion of union rights (pdf) to the souped-up emergency manager law (pdf) that lets the state replace elected officials with managers who have unilateral control. As you can see in the clip above, the Republican speaker calls for a rising vote, waits a blink, and then gavels in his party's super-majority.
Michigan Democrats have begun using their numbers to demand a record roll call vote, as a means of trying to make Republicans prove they have the super-majorities they claim to have. They say Republicans are denying them roll call votes, and last week, they sued the House (and specifically Republican House leadership) over it. On Monday, a county judge ruled for the Democrats. Issuing a temporary injunction, he ordered the House leadership to grant the roll call votes; he also put on hold several recent bills passed improperly.
The reality of this comes into shocking view when you consider that Michigan Republicans want to pass a voter suppression law that would immediately go into effect under this scam in order to try to steal the state for the GOP in November.
These people are lawless cowards. My good friend Chris Savage, Michigan blogger extraordinaire at the unparalleled Eclectablog, has been all over this story since it broke.
As Rachel Maddow points out, if Public Act 4 had not been passed in this way, it would only have gone into effect in the past few weeks, 90 days after the last legislative session. Think about that for minute. Think about how much has been done to, using Maddow’s phrase, “rout democracy” in our state under that law in the year that it has been on the books. Think about how it could have been different if they hadn’t used immediate effect.
Maddow then went on to show just how illegal this is. It’s something that I pointed out in my piece yesterday titled “Michigan GOP appeals ruling preventing them from violating the state constitution”. It’s the fact that immediate effect can only happen if 2/3 of the members of the House vote for it. But Republicans do not HAVE 2/3 of the House. The entire reason that they have been avoiding using roll call votes is because they did not have the votes to make the laws immediate effect. In other words, over 96% of the laws passed by the Republicans since January 2011 have been illegal in their implementation.
Illegal. Think about that. Nearly all of the laws passed in Michigan since 2011 have been done so illegally and in clear violation of the state's Constitution. It's a crisis and it has to be addressed. Now. You'd better believe Chris and the ABLC crew will continue to be all over this.