We can’t be everywhere all at once, but here’s some news you could use about what’s been going on in Michigan this week alone:
Extending Civil Rights Protections: The state’s Civil Rights Commission declined on Monday to issue an interpretive statement that would extend protections against discrimination to people based on sexual orientation and gender identity via the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The law currently provides protections based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status.
It was a temporary set-back for members of the LGBTQ community and their allies, who now have to wait for the legislature to do so (which has been unsuccessful on numerous occasions); wait for Attorney General Bill Schuette to opine whether the commission even has such an ability; or start a ballot proposal (which has also had its share of ups and downs).
Collective Bargaining: While Michigan has been a so-called “right to work” state since 2012 – meaning those employed at union shops are not required to be part of a union and pay union dues but still receive benefits from union negotiations – the Michigan Civil Service Commission took that one step further earlier this week by breaking down collective bargaining abilities for state employees.
Specifically, the Commission approved new rules prohibiting state employee unions from bargaining over definitions of seniority and limited state-compensated union leave time. There would now be a standard definition for seniority for all state employees, as well as rules governing how seniority can be used in the event of layoffs or restricting. Grievances over use of seniority would be moved to the Civil Service Commission grievance process from the union grievance process.
ACLU Sues Over Discrimination in Adoptions: The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is suing the state over what it says is discrimination faced by same-sex couples seeking to adopt from faith-based agencies receiving state funds. The ACLU is saying that a publicly funded program should not have such capabilities and has been clear that the lawsuit is not directed at private agencies.
Governor Rick Snyder signed a law in 2015 stating that child placement agencies were not required to provide services conflicting with their beliefs, but that came before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, including Michigan’s own DeBoer-Rowse case in which a lesbian couple sought joint custody of their children.
Flint Families Suffer ‘Horrifying Large’ Birth Deaths During Water Crisis: A new working paper has been released showing that Flint families saw a “horrifyingly large” increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages for babies conceived from November 2013 through March 2015. Specifically, it states that “between 198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water.”
Unlimited Campaign Spending: As documented by the Great Lakes Beacon, the state House passed, and Governor Rick Snyder signed roughly 24 hours later, legislation ensuring unlimited campaign contributions be permissible to candidates for elected office through the use of Super PACs (political action committees), which accept donations but are not required to disclose donors. They can promote certain messages, positive or negative, and while they must say who they are “authorized by,” they can’t explicitly encourage an action such as “vote for” or “vote against.”