LANSING, Mich – The governor offered up some time Thursday afternoon to further explain his decision to sign right-to-work into law.
We sat down with the governor in Lansing one-on-one while he answered some questions on why he seemed to switch his position on the right-to-work bill and whether or not the public was purposely shut out of the process.
Protesters at the Capitol this week were angry on a number of levels. Many were upset because they thought Gov. Snyder was neutral on the issue of right-to-work, then in a six-hour window seemed to change his mind and signed the bill into law. When we asked the governor about that, he essentially told us those people misunderstood.
“I never said I was against right to work,” he said. “I said it wasn’t on my agenda and it was the appropriate time to address the issue.”
Also a sticking point for those who oppose the legislation is the fact that they can’t use a referendum to ask voters if they’d like to vote the law out as they did with the emergency management law in November. That’s because lawmakers attached an appropriation to it. Cooley Law Professor Devin Schindler says opponents may be able to challenge it through an initiative or an amendment to the Michigan constitution, but the referendum would have been the easier public vote.
“The veto referendum is absolutely the easiest way,” Schindler says. “It requires only five percent of the voters to sign a petition as opposed to, say, a ballot initiative that requires eight percent and a constitutional amendment that requires 10 percent of the voters.”
We put the question to the governor on whether the people had been shut out of the process because of the lack of an opportunity to voice their opinions through a public comment process due to the fast tracking of the bill and the fact that there likely can’t be a referendum.
“I think the public had the opportunity to give a lot of input going up to the legislation being voted on,” Gov. Snyder responded. “Right-to-work has been an issue in Michigan for a long time. Different groups have made it a priority for a number of years. And if you looked at, ever since the election right-to-work has been a very visible issue in our state, so I think that most Michiganders have had an opportunity to talk to a legislator, contribute their thoughts about it.”
Gov. Snyder said the public got a chance to make their views known. “Legislators are all available on their website in person on the telephone. So there’s been a lot of opportunity for people to have thoughts and contribution on the topic.”
When asked if the public was behind him on his decision, Snyder responded, “Generally, yeah.”
Of course, time will tell whether or not the public is behind the governor as people consider this in the elections down the road.
Snyder has been poked fun at on a number of national talk shows. On one morning program, it appeared he was being heckled over his decision. When asked about that, the governor responded that he’s had a lot of different interviews and everyone has their different styles.