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election law

photo of Warda Bouguettaya crossing her arms.
Warda Bougettaya

Today, on Stateside, changes to Michigan’s election laws move through the legislature. Plus, one Detroit chef talks about seizing the moment to expand her business, and why she still makes time for the kitchen. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate elections committee is prepared to take up some voting reform bills Tuesday.

Republicans introduced 39 bills they claim are in response to concerns raised in last year’s defeat of President Donald Trump. The senate Elections and Ethics committee has three of the bills on their agenda this week. 

But critics say the legislation is about “voter suppression”.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State is at odds with State Senate Republicans over appearing before a committee to testify on election security.

The state Senate Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet April 20.

State Director of Elections Jonathan Brater is scheduled to appear.  But Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has declined.

voting stickers
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Republican state lawmakers are working to push a package of 39 election-related bills through the Michigan Legislature. The bills would change state election laws in many ways, including preventing the Secretary of State’s office from mailing out absentee voter applications and requiring photo identification to vote. The bills’ authors say changes are needed in order to ensure elections are fair. But many elections experts and clerks say state elections are already fair, and the bills would make it harder for Michiganders to cast their votes.

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There are now multiple lawsuits originating from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and his supporters attempting to stop the certification of Michigan’s election results. A flurry of filings in Michigan’s Western District federal court on November 11 were the latest. These cases are based on unsubstantiated claims of fraud or lack of transparency, says University of Michigan law professor Sam Bagenstos.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

The state House has approved a bill meant to clarify a controversial new law limiting what local officials can say publicly about ballot questions.

Civic and local school officials say the law imposes a “gag order” – making it illegal for them to give factual information on ballot proposals.

State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, says her bill makes it clear that local officials can give information as long as it’s factual and neutral.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved campaign finance legislation that would write the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling into state law.

The court ruled that the First Amendment allows unrestricted independent political spending by outside groups.

Democrats say the bill not only codifies “Citizens United” – it expands it.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The Michigan Bureau of Elections says Gov. Rick Snyder did not break campaign finance laws during his State of the State speech last month.

The bureau dismissed a complaint accusing the governor of using taxpayer dollars to advocate for a May ballot proposal to raise the sales tax. Snyder told voters to “vote yes” on the question at least six times during the speech.

Courtesy photo / Michigan Democratic Party

It's Sunshine Week, an annual push for open government and the public’s right to know stuff.

Democrats in the state House tied the introduction of a package of bills to Sunshine Week. The bills include a number of changes to Michigan's laws and constitution regarding ethics, campaign finance, and elections.

gophouse.com

A House committee meeting in Lansing was interrupted today by a group of about 50 protestors angry over proposed election law changes.

The House Redistricting and Elections Committee planned to vote on a series of changes including one that would require either a photo ID or birth certificate to be presented when registering to vote.  Opponents argue that the new rule would create unfair hurdles for some potential voters.

Protestors yelled slogans including "respect our vote" and some people were escorted outside.

According to the Detroit News, the protest was led by Pastor W.J. Rideout and Rev. Charles Williams Sr., the latter of whom told committee members "you're killing democracy" before leaving the meeting.

Another man, the News says, told committee chairman Rep. Pete Lund that, "The blood of Martin Luther King Junior is on your hands."

Despite the disruption, the committee voted to have the bill move to the House floor. 

-John Klein Wilson,Michigan Radio Newsroom