House Dems Oppose Legislation Eviscerating Local Control

Republican bill imposes corporate will over municipalities
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

LANSING — Members of the House Democratic Caucus were united in opposition today against House Bill 4052, legislation designed to take away the ability of local governments to enact ordinances that benefit their citizens. The bill is broadly worded and possibly violates the Michigan Constitution, which guarantees local control. Despite bipartisan opposition, the bill passed with only Republican support and now moves to the Senate.

“Republicans are supposed to be the party of small government and local control, yet they just voted to prevent local governments from enacting policies to benefit the folks in their own communities,” House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) said. “Once again, the hardworking men and women of Michigan are feeling the squeeze so that CEOs can increase their profit margins. This is corporate puppetry of the worst kind.”

HB 4052 prevents municipalities from enacting or enforcing any rule regarding employer-employee relations that is stricter than state or federal law. The bill would invalidate community benefits agreements, local minimum wage laws, sick leave policies or any other ordinance that would put the needs of employees ahead of big corporations. Although the bill was amended to exempt nondiscrimination ordinances, domestic partner benefits could still be invalidated.

“Supporters of this bill say it will help create jobs, but when we’re competing with other states in a talent-based economy, I strongly believe the opposite is true,” said state Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing), Democratic vice chairman of the House Commerce and Trade Committee, where the bill originated. “People move where they feel wanted and welcome, and businesses move to where they can hire talented workers. HB 4052 prevents cities and towns from doing what they think is best to attract young professionals and working families, and that’s terrible public policy.”

Democrats offered several amendments to the bill, including exempting community colleges, which also have a constitutional right to self-governance. Republican leadership gaveled down each amendment, even one that would protect ordinances enacted by popular vote.

“Just last year, under the threat of a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage, the Legislature approved its own increase. Today, it took that right away from Michigan’s citizens,” said state Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit), also a member of the Commerce and Trade Committee. “Not only have Republicans once again put profits before people, they have taken away the right of self-determination. It’s simply appalling.”