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Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 571, the controversial bill that prohibits governments from most forms of communication about ballot proposals within 60 days of an election. The new law (PA 269) will have a major impact on the ability of local governments and school districts to respond to local millage and bond questions. This website provides MASA members with guidance on implementation, as well as legislative and legal action.
With the Governor signing Public Act 269, school district officials have many immediate questions about what can legally be communicated about bond and millage propositions, when those communications can happen, and how they can happen. MASA and Thrun Law Firm, P.C., have reviewed the changes to the Campaign Finance Act and developed a webinar so that you may learn what remains permissible, what is now impermissible, and what remains unclear. It is our hope that the webinar, Q&A document and sample board resolution provided below will help everyone sort through some of the immediate implementation complications and assist in your communication efforts.
Q and A (Coming Soon)
Legislation has been introduced in the House and the Senate as an attempt to clarify the changes in PA 269. Senate Bill 702 (Zorn) and House Bill 5221 (Schor) repeal the changes in section 57, while HB 5219 (Lyons) makes minor changes. Unfortunately, the house language continues to limit our communications on ballot issues to only the exact ballot language and the date of the upcoming election and will not allow for the distribution of any other factual information. We are working on a legislative fix that would repeal the new sections of law that bar local units of government from distributing factual information about local ballot proposals for 60 days prior to an election. MASA has developed an alert (below) that will allow communicate your concerns about this law to your lawmakers. It is also vital that you ask them to repeal the added language to section 57.
MASA assisted several school districts, counties and cities in filing a civil rights lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Public Act 269. The legal action was filed in U.S. District Court and will request both preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the State from enforcing Subsection 57(3) of the Act.
Specifically, it will be argued that the law violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing free speech, because it prohibits the free flow of objectively neutral, core political speech. It will also be argued that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees due process, because Subsection 57(3)’s overly broad and vague language subjects public officials to criminal prosecution for engaging in protected speech without adequate notice or guidance about what conduct amounts to a crime, further limiting free speech.
There are strong merits to this case as the United States Supreme Court and courts across the country have struck down broad restrictions of political speech because they violate the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, particularly when it prohibits core political speech.
PA 269 Legal Complaint
Q and A (Coming Soon)
|PA 269 Board Resolution.docx||468.47 KB|
|PA 269 of 2015.pdf||166.05 KB|
|HB 5219.pdf||29.12 KB|
|HB 5219 Summary.pdf||103.19 KB|
|SB 0703.pdf||25.61 KB|
|HB 5221.pdf||26.91 KB|