Senate Passes Right To Work Bills Despite Lawmakers' Protests

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

There were protests within the House and Senate chambers Thursday afternoon by the lawmakers themselves, but to no avail.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Arlan Meekof, R-West Olive, said democracy is "beautiful."

"It's a proud day for Michigan," Sen. Meekof said.

Hundreds of protesters and the democratic lawmakers disagree with Sen. Meekof. They called this a sad day for Michigan.

"I'm disgusted. This is legislation that was introduced and moved through all the way today, and there was never a public hearing," Senator Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said."The Governor never told people where he stood on this until today."

Democrats tried to stall with hours of debate. One senator spoke for nearly an hour against right to work, during which the chamber was asked to quiet down multiple times. After the private sector bill passed 22-16, the democrats walked out.

"The republicans tried to cut off our voices," Sen. Whitmer said. "No hearings, locking people out of the Capitol, and then shutting down legislators from having debate. They trampled on the Constitution to pass the most divisive thing they could in Michigan."

House democrats staged their own protest, too. They insisted the public be allowed in the building or else they wouldn't vote. Eventually they returned, but right to work was approved there 58-52.

"We believe this is the work that moves Michigan forward again," Sen. Meekof said. "So, they've elected us to make those decisions for them, and I think we've done the right thing."

Democrats left the Senate chamber before the public sector vote for the second bill. Many protesters from the gallery yelled down to the floor during the vote. The bill passed 22-4, and many democrats didn't return for the rest of the session.

"I'm worried that the environment is so toxic here, that we can't find common ground on anything, and I think that's a legitimate concern," Sen. Whitmer said. "No one's talking about the people. The nurses, the teachers, the emergency workers who are all going to be impacted by this."

An appropriation was also added in the bill, which means it cannot be repealed through referendum.

The House still has to approve the public sector bill that went through the Senate, and that could happen as early as Tuesday.


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