Lansing politicians attack freedom of speech

With a 4-2 vote, the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee adopted HB 4052 today and moved one step closer to restricting our rights to freedom of speech and association. The bill now goes to the full House.

HB 4052, first introduced by Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville) in January, prohibits a public employee or a collective bargaining organization (union) from using publicly-owned property, facilities, or services—including email services—for:

  • political activities,
  • political fund-raising,
  • campaigning for a union office,
  • collective bargaining organizing activities and
  • recruiting employees for membership in a union

A public employee or union could use the publicly-owned property, facilities or services for negotiations or to maintain contract obligations among employers and employees. There is also no prohibition to use the public property as a public forum, just as members of the general public can.

A violation of the law is a misdemeanor which will result in a $10,000 fine for an organization and a $1,000 fine and one-year imprisonment for an individual.

This is another example of political payback. In January, the Michigan Court of Appeals blocked access to Howell Education Association teachers’ emails. The Association was accused of using the school district’s email for union lobbying efforts. A district court judge sided with Howell Public Schools, and ordered the release of the email. The state Court of Appeals overturned the decision, suggesting the Legislature take up the issue. And they did.

This is more than just another blatant attack on public workers and their unions. This is an unconstitutional attack on every citizen’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Contact your legislator now! Tell them they’ve gone too far.