Today I sent the following message to our State senator and representative.
Sen. MacGregor and Rep. Hooker:
I’m sure by now you know that our school district does not support the recently signed “gag bill” that prevents me and other officials from informing our community about the facts behind a millage or bond election within 60 days of the vote.
Protecting voters’ rights and ensuring that we have an informed electorate is an important responsibility that my school district and I take very seriously. Public Act 269 will have a major impact on the ability of local governments and school districts to respond to local millages and bond questions. The original law already prohibited public funds being used for propaganda. This legislation bans sharing factual and unbiased information, and leaves voters in the dark. It also opens them up to very biased opinions from organizations that oppose any form of taxation or public education.
I am also very concerned with how these changes were created which was, in part, the result of a lack of information. The version of the bill approved by the House and Senate never had a single hearing. In the dark of night, in the waning hours of the legislative session, the legislation went from 12 pages long to 53 pages long – and then was approved by a majority of lawmakers before anyone had a chance to testify about the impact of this provision.
As Governor Snyder indicated when he gave in and signed the “gag bill,” legislation has recently been introduced as an attempt to “clarify” the intention of this new law. The proposal (House Bill 5219) as written DOES NOT PROVIDE school districts the ability to communicate necessary factual information to voters. I am asking that you oppose this legislation and instead support a complete repeal of the 60-day gag order.
Please stand up for the citizens in my school district by ensuring that they get all of the information needed before they go to the polls, including factual and unbiased information from schools and local governments.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.
David Britten, Superintendent