House Holds Off on ‘Gag Order’ Fix

Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives scheduled HB 5219 for a floor vote but pulled the bill before the vote could take place. The bill is designed to clarify what local municipalities can say on ballot proposals using taxpayer dollars. HB 5219 currently states that local entities can provide factual and strictly neutral mass communications on the direct impact of local proposals unless it can be reasonably interpreted as attempting to influence an election. Local groups and some lawmakers have said the language is too ambiguous and could lead to expensive lawsuits for local governments.

The bill comes after Public Act 269 was signed by the governor earlier this year. The law prohibits local governments from issuing information to voters by a variety of means, including television and radio, 60 days before an election.