Apr 5, 2007
When you are the majority party in both the Michigan House and Senate and you are the House Majority Floor Leader in the House that decides what will actually go before the full House it doesn’t seem very hard to get you bills passed or at least voted on.
That’s the position Chris Ward, R-Brighton, was in during the last Legislative session, but now that he’s in the minority in the House he recently reintroduced three bills that died in the last session.
The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported Ward reintroduced proposals on campaign finance reform, moving school elections to November, and requiring an indication of U.S. citizenship on driver's licenses.
I reported last month on his discriminatory driver license bill, House Bill 4505.
The P & A said “Ward's bill, HB 4415, also limits the amount individuals can contribute to political action committees, a move he said would cut down on the influence of rich donors like Jon Stryker, a liberal philanthropist who spent millions on ads in last year's
Last summer, in fact two days before the House adjourned for the summer in June, Ward introduced the same bill, HB 6128. The bill was, basically, a show bill for the upcoming election in five months – if he actually did any campaigning, and the bill barely passed by five votes. It then went to the Senate where bills go to die, and that’s exactly what happed. The Senate was controlled by Republicans then, and it, unfortunately, still is.
When the bill was introduced in June, it was clear it was aimed at just the Democrats. Rich Robinson, director of nonprofit watchdog Michigan Campaign Finance Network, said in June of 2006 that “one aspect of the proposals that made him hesitate was the way he said they favor the Republican Party. The GOP relies on wealthy individuals, he explained, and even though some limits are put on contributions from such people, they could still give unlimited amounts to any number of PACs.”
I have not seen an analysis of the current proposed bill, but they look exactly the same.
But the most damming and entertaining indictment of the bill was the opinion column last summer by well-known and respected journalists Jack Lessenberry.
Lessenberry said he was initially encouraged by the campaign finance reform until he heard it was Ward who introduced the legislation. He recounted Ward’s anti-consumer wine bill a few years ago in exchange for some very large and steady campaign contributions from the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.
“My personal blood pump never even skipped a beat once I noticed that the sponsor of these bills was Chris Ward. That is the moral equivalent of Monica Lewinsky opening a charter school of chastity. If Chris were in another occupation, he might have a mattress strapped to his back.
But mainly his “reforms “are boilerplate you-know-what, for election year consumption and fragging the Democrats."
The Democrats have already introduced meaningful ethics reforms in this session, such as banning public officials from lobbying for a year after they have left office; prohibiting conflicts of interest; requiring personal financial disclosures; and banning lawmakers from getting state grants.