Is Nothing Too Far for Michigan Republicans?

Is Nothing Too Far for Michigan Republicans? May 2, 2012

The Republican party took control of the Michigan House of Representatives in 2010, riding the Tea Party wave into power, and since then there seems to be almost no policy so vile that they would not seek to pass it. The latest outrage is a provision in a bill that would punish universities if anyone at the school works with pro-labor groups in any protest against a business — even one that is breaking the law and violating people’s rights.

Tucked in the House education budget at the request of the Michigan Restaurant Association is a provision prohibiting universities from collaborating with “a non-profit worker center whose documented activities include coercion through protest, demonstration or organization against a Michigan business.”

University professors nationwide are decrying the provision as an infringement of academic freedom, while Republican legislators say universities shouldn’t be promoting free speech protests against businesses that pay taxes that support university operations.

“As we see it, students can receive internship credit for basically shaking down Michigan businesses,” said Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, chair of the panel.

State Rep. Joe Haveman added the provision at the behest of a restaurant industry lobbyist, but acknowledged in a recent committee meeting he doesn’t know what the rule concerns.

A Detroit News inquiry into the origins of the proposed law found it stems from protests staged in 2009 and 2010 during Friday night dinner hours at Andiamo’s Dearborn location on Michigan Avenue.

Students in a number of degree programs do internships as part of their studies, and those internships are sometimes for non-profit groups that, yes, engage in protests. You know, as the goddamn constitution guarantees the right to do. But the House Republicans actually want to prevent that from happening and are threatening to cut state aid to universities if they allow students to do internships with groups they don’t approve of.

I didn’t think they could get any worse; I was wrong.

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