Michigan Senate Republicans Prove That, Actually, They Love Intrusive Government Regulation

Down with big government, cry Michigan Republicans!

Except when it comes to workers’ rights.

Yesterday the Michigan Senate voted 25-13 to pass a sick leave “preemption bill,” SB 173, which bans cities and towns from passing their own laws regarding earned sick leave. 25 Republicans voted in favor, while all 12 Democrats and one Republican (Sen. Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights) voted against.

Now, this might seem like a strange law for Michigan to pass, since no city or town in Michigan has a sick leave ordinance on the books, and no city or town in Michigan is currently considering such an ordinance.

But this isn’t about Michigan. This is about ALEC and its nationwide efforts to quash the momentum behind paid sick days, using politicians like bill sponsor Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids) merely as delivery systems.

This is a law modeled after one Gov. Scott Walker passed in Wisconsin in May 2011, which overrode the will of Milwaukee voters who had overwhelmingly passed a paid sick days ordinance three years earlier.

At the ALEC national conference in 2011, attendees were given copies of Walker’s paid sick days preemption law. As PRWatch blogger Brendan Fischer describes, legislators were also handed a “target list” and “a map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member the National Restaurant Association.”

This law keeping cities and towns from making their own decisions on this issue makes no sense for Michigan. Michigan just happens to be on a list of boxes for ALEC to check, so they can continue a status quo where workers show up to work sick, or get fired for taking care of a sick child, simply because they have no other financial option.

Having passed the Senate, SB 173 is now on a fast track through the House. Seems like legislators can be super efficient when they want to restrict workers’ rights, and when ALEC has already written out a bill for them.

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Congressman Who Spend All Day Worrying About Spending Have Flushed $55 Million Down the Drain

“Washington has a spending problem.” “We need to stop the spending.” House Republicans since they assumed power in January 2011 have continuously touted the vague, amorphous issue of “spending” as paramount.

But they never say spending on what. Which is good for them, because they’ve flushed $55 million of your taxpayer money down the drain on 37 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Last year, CBS News calculated that the number of hours spent on 33 repeal votes — then roughly 80 hours, or two full work weeks — cost taxpayers an estimated $48 million. Since then, Republicans have held three more votes (another $4.5 million) and will add another $1.5 million with their latest.

$55 million, as Bryce Covert and Adam Peck point out, is enough to hire 5,000 new mental health professionals, and enough to provide support for states that want to pass paid sick leave laws. The time spent on votes to repeal Obamacare account for 15 percent of total time Congress has spent in session.

While Congress wastes taxpayer dollars on problems that only exist in their fevered imaginations, the rest of us are struggling with high unemployment, stagnant wages, crumbling infrastructure, and needless cuts to everything from Head Start to cancer research. Those are things that are actually happening, and they actually affect the lives of real Americans.

Either Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and the rest of the gang actually focus on those problems instead of wasting taxpayer money on fake problems, or they stop with this constant faux concern about “spending.” They don’t get to do both.

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