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Bill to allow union PAC payroll deductions headed to House floor

East side of the state Capitol exterior in the autumn.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

A state House committee has advanced bills that would allow union members to have political donations automatically deducted from their paychecks. The bills adopted Tuesday are part of an overall effort by Democrats to restore union power that was eroded while the Legislature was under Republican control.

Representative Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) chairs the House Elections Committee and sponsored one of the bills. She said the legislation would treat union political committees the same as employer PACs.

She said the legislation would not force union members to give money to political committees, but would make it easier.

“Allowing workers to affirmatively opt in to PAC payroll deductions to the organizations that represent their interests simply levels the playing field when corporations can use the same system of deductions to solicit donations to their corporate PACs,” she said.

Representative Jay DeBoyer (R-Clay Township) wondered if union members might feel compelled to make political donations against their will.

“Is there ever a case that persuasion or coercion or pressure is applied within, you know, let’s say, a school district to be a member of participation with contributions to political action committees,” he asked. “Is that something we should be concerned about?”

DeBoyer and the committee’s other Republican member were both “no” votes.

The bills were adopted on six-to-two party-line votes. The bills now go to the House floor.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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