By Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
Michigan government and school officials filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Detroit Tuesday, Jan. 26 that challenges the constitutionality of the newly-approved provision in Public Act 269 that prohibits elected and school officials from providing information to voters regarding local ballot proposals within 60 days of an election.
Subsection 57(3) of Public Act 269, which amended Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act, was signed into law by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
Jan. 6. The change is impacting many Michigan schools and municipalities that have ballot questions scheduled to be voted on in the March 8 Presidential Primary Election, including the Byron Area School district, which is seeking approval of a two-year renewal of its three-mill sinking fund bond to be used for “building renovations and repairs,” according to court documents.
The district had included the question on the Nov. 2015 election ballot, but district residents voted down the sinking fund renewal by a 526-458 margin.
Byron Sup’t. Tricia Murphy-Alderman and Board of Education President Amy Lawrence are listed as two of the 18 plaintiffs in the case against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and the State of Michigan.
The case will be heard in the Eastern District Court of Michigan in Detroit. The plaintiffs are alleging that Subsection 57(3) of Public Act 269 violates both the first and the 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
While the lawsuit may not conclude in time for the March 8 election, the plaintiffs are seeking court costs and “any other relief the Court may deem just, equitable or appropriate under the circumstances.”
Also, Michigan House Representative Holly Hughes, R-Montague, and Michigan Senator Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, each introduced legislation on Tuesday that would amend Subsection 57(3) of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act and how public ballot information is shared. House Bill 5249 and Senate Bill 721 would allow a public body to share detailed, factual information on any legislation up for a public vote.