Today, Governor Snyder signed into law SB 571, the legislation barring libraries, school districts and local governments from spending public funds on TV ads, mailers or phone messages about local ballots proposals 60 days before an election. However, a clean-up bill is currently being hashed out that would address that portion of the bill.
MLA remains highly engaged as the clarification language is crafted for the new bill. Libraries voices were heard. Thank you for your participation and engagement. Watch the MLA website and communications for updates.
Read MLA's statement following Gov. Snyder enacting SB 571 prohibiting voter education
It has been reported that some legislators who voted for the bill later voiced opposition saying they were unaware of the implications of some of the changes made when the original 12 page bill morphed to 53 pages in the final minutes of the 2015 legislative session.
To recap, SB 571 is an attack on free and equal access to information and creates criminal and civil penalties for libraries and boards concerning sharing of factual information about their elections within 60 days of Election Day. The language blocks access to unbiased, objective communication and dissemination of information – the very definition of a library’s purpose.
When SB 571 was passed in late December, MLA acted immediately by issuing an advocacy alert that resulted in 800 concerned Michigan citizens contacting Gov. Synder by phone or email asking him to veto the bill. John Chrastka from EveryLibrary, a national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to political action at a local level to protect public funding for libraries of all types, joined the fight and provided the governor’s office with petitions carrying 6,000 signatures.
MLA delivered a letter to the governor and garnered national media attention with a press release and interviews. Everylibraries’ social media campaign took hold and tweets and facebook posts peppered the internet calling for a veto of what was being called a “gag order” on librarians and other local officials.
Here is the press release issued by the governor's office:
Editor's note: Signing letter from the governor is linked below and attached.
Gov. Rick Snyder signs campaign finance reform bill
Working with leaders on clarifying bill to eliminate concerns
LANSING, Mich - Gov. Rick Snyder today signed several election finance reforms, focused on eliminating abuse and creating transparency in how public resources are used for election purposes.
“This legislation includes many important campaign finance reforms that protect the integrity of our election process,” Snyder said. “I understand there is confusion about how the bill impacts the use of public resources to disseminate factual information prior to an election. This provision needs to be clarified and I am working with my partners in the Legislature on a follow-up bill to address these concerns.”
Senate Bill 571, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Kowall, updates campaign finance rules to specify that:
- Trade association members may use one check when paying membership dues and making a PAC contribution, but the association must transfer PAC contributions in a timely manner or the amount must be returned to the association member.
- Payroll deductions are an acceptable way to collect voluntary PAC contributions from corporate employees.
- Automatic deductions can only support a PAC that a corporation has established.
- Automatic deductions of contributions are allowed without giving annual consent.
- The office of the Secretary of State will be required to post all campaign finance complaints and rulings to its website within 45 days.
- Debt incurred by a candidate in a previous election cycle can be paid with contributions collected in a subsequent election cycle.
- Campaign finance filings must contain email addresses in the contact information.
- Disclaimers and identification of sponsor are required in political advertising, codifying existing Secretary of State practices.
The bill also includes a provision that many municipalities and public institutions that rely on millages have concerns with: prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars being used for mass communications pertaining to local ballot questions 60 days before an election.
The intent was to prohibit the use of advertisement-style mass communications using taxpayer dollars, not to impact the expression of personal views by a public official or the use of public facilities for debates or town halls on ballot questions.
To address the concerns, Snyder is calling on the Legislature to pass clarifying legislation in time for the March 2016 election. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Speaker Kevin Cotter are both supportive of moving this legislation through their respective chambers quickly.
The governor further explained his position on PA 269 in a signing letter.
For more information on this and other legislation, please visit www.legislature.mi.gov.
This email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of: The Executive Office of the Governor · 111 South Capitol Avenue · Lansing, MI 48909 · 517-335-7858