Michigan: Not content with silencing librarians, now GOP wants to silence...the Health Dept.
OK, as far as crimes and/or stupidity by the Michigan GOP goes, this is pretty small potatoes these days. Even so...
So, you may have heard that the Republican-controlled Michigan state legislature recently passed (and Governor Rick "Leadfoot" Snyder signed) a dead-of-night bill which, for absolutely no reason whatsoever...
...bans any public body or public official, except for “an election official in the performance of his or her duties,” from using public funds to issue any kind of communication that “references a local ballot question, and is targeted to the relevant electorate where the local ballot question appears on the ballot,” in the 60-day run-up to an election.
Yes, that's right: It is now illegal for local governments to send out literature giving out information about upcoming millages, school bonds or amendments to the city charter within 60 days of the election (ie, the only period that voters are paying attention to such things). As Democratic Minority Leader Tim Greimel put it:
"Senate Bill 571 is designed to keep voters in the dark about important issues in their community, including school millages and bonds to fund police and fire departments. Because of Gov. Snyder's actions, local governments and school districts will not be allowed to pay for materials to educate voters on these issues. Meanwhile, corporations face few limits on their influence on elections. Gov. Snyder should remember he was elected to serve the people of Michigan, not the special interests who will benefit from this new law, Greimel added.
Well, apparently there were more people they want to put a sock in it...the Michigan Dept. of Health & Human Services:
The state Department of Health and Human Services would have to stop spending $2 million per year on advertising for the Healthy Michigan plan under a proposal the Senate Health Policy Committee considered on Tuesday.
"It would prohibit any state dept from expending state funds to advertise the Healthy Michigan plan," said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, sponsor of Senate Bill 542.
Healthy Michigan, of course, is Snyder's name for Michigan's ACA Medicaid expansion program, which has been a huge success, with around 600,000 people enrolled state-wide (the number fluctuates between around 580K - 620K week to week).
...Initially advertisements encouraged people to enroll. However, Priest said that with a relatively stable number of people on Healthy Michigan the advertisements now educate people on how to use the plan or focus on promoting healthy behaviors.
DHHS Deputy Director for External Relations Geralyn Lasher said many of the Healthy Michigan enrollees are first-time users who need education on things like using a primary care physician.
On the one hand, this is another example of the GOP trying to tear down a sensible program which helps keep costs down by encouraging healthy behavior and seeking preventative care (ironically, Healthy Michigan was passed by the GOP legislature and signed by a GOP governor, after all).
On the other hand, given the Snyder administration's recent record on "keeping Michiganders healthy" in the city of Flint, perhaps it's just par for the course.
Then again...$1 million per year (the other million is from the federal government) could buy a lot of bottles of clean water. If it was reallocated towards that, I'd probably be OK with this move.