July Political Update

by Leo Sell, Legislative Committee Chairperson

A recent pleasant political surprise occurred when Governor Snyder vetoed the most egregious portions of recently passed voter suppression laws.

He vetoed SB 754 which would have required people, companies and organization involved in voter registration to be trained by the state. This is an approach that’s been implemented in a variety of states, at the behest of a conservative alliance called ALEC and its primary purpose is not to reduce “voter fraud” (which data indicates is virtually completely nonexistent) but rather to suppress the typical urban and college based voter registration drives that organizations such as the League of Women Voters and others, particularly Democrat-related groups engage in. Voter registration is not difficult and the regulations regarding it are not difficult to follow. But there is a strong conservative element that would like to discourage “the wrong people” from voting. Typically this would be the “young and completely uninformed” and the urban poor.

Snyder also vetoed HB 5061 which would have added a redundant identification process for picking up an absentee ballot to one that already exists and SB 803, requiring voters to affirm their citizenship before voting or be denied the franchise. SB 803 is redundant because voters are already are required to declare their citizenship when they register.

Measures need to be taken to INCREASE voter participation, not to suppress participation.

Another kick in the teeth to you and I as regular folk were bills that lower the income tax rate a few months early, slightly, to 4.25 percent another that increases personal tax exemptions very slightly. These were designed to allow Republican lawmakers a chance to claim credit for “lowering the income tax” while running for re-election. Of course, these miniscule adjustments amount to less than a cup of coffee per week for average. They’re hoping you and I IGNORE the fact that beginning with the 2012 tax year, there’s been a HUGE effective increase in taxes on the poor and middle class in Michigan. The Republican budget and tax changes about a year ago effectively increased taxes on 51% of Michigan taxpayers by hundreds of dollars. This was done by eliminating major tax credits you and I used, such as severely reducing or eliminating the the Homestead Property Tax Credit for seniors and for taxpayers making more than $50,000 per year, and eliminating those for donations to food banks, shelters, and food kitchens and other charities. See http://eclectablog.com/2012/02/tax-timebomb-that-explodes-in-michigan.html. So again, I’d say, who you vote for really does matter. And next year when you and I file our income tax returns we’re going to find out just how much.

Enjoy that extra weekly cup of coffee before Jan 1, 2013!!