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Local Leaders File Lawsuit Over PA 269, Seek Immediate Relief

Aaron Keel

By Aaron Keel, MASB Assistant Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Jan. 27, 2016

Last week, the House Elections Committee began hearings on House Bill 5219, which is intended to “fix” the problems for local governments and schools created by Public Act 269. MASB, along with MASA, local superintendents, libraries, the Michigan Municipal League and many other organizations from across the state have urged a full repeal of the new language added to Section 57 of PA 269.

Your board can show its support by adopting this sample resolution.

Yesterday, MASB joined a coalition of civic and education leaders to announce that 18 elected and appointed officials have filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Detroit claiming PA 269 is a violation of their First and 14th Amendment rights. Further, not only are the First Amendment rights of public officials and employees now infringed, but so are the rights of citizens, who depend on elected and appointed public officials to inform them about matters of public concern so they can participate in the political process.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction for immediate relief against the law, which if granted, would allow local officials the ability to distribute basic factual information about upcoming local ballot issues like they could prior to PA 269. While the judge has not yet entered a temporary restraining order or made any ruling, we expect him to provide information on the next steps for the case at any time.

City, township, county and school officials all agree the restrictive language, which drastically limits how we can communicate with voters 60 days before an election, is unconstitutional and that constituents need to have the facts to become informed on key matters including local millage issues, charter changes, land transfers and other issues required by state law to go before the voters. The 60-day gag order went into effect on Jan. 8 for more than 100 districts and local governments that have a March 8 ballot issue.

MASB will continue to keep you updated as this unfolds.

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