Misfits and the Media

Detroit, Michigan

Are those who report on politics in Michigan stuck in their own circle, reporting to themselves about what they think and feel? How competitive is the media in Michigan, specifically South East Michigan? Do those who report merely use the many publications and news outlets as enhanced chat rooms where they can share their own ideas with one another but not necessarily report on real life?
In the topic of national politics there is a term called “the beltway”. This references the political grouping of people, organizations and in some cases government institutions from an area near the nation’s capitol. The use of this term implies a state of thinking that is different than what is being thought, felt or discussed in the rest of the country. A small cottage industry of media, non-profits and political organizations that in some cases only speak to each other develop theories, thought processes and belief systems that do not always agree with popular opinion because they only reference or gain input from others who are exactly like themselves. When you surround yourself with people exactly like yourself you are guaranteed to get the answer you like and it will always agree with your position.
In Michigan the recent story that has been repeated verbatim regards Senate Bill 934 (SB 934). The ongoing theme is that the Republicans will stop a ballot proposal from occurring if this bill passes into law. That has been the single story line regarding the minimum wage ballot issue. It sounds confrontational, thus it sounds like a controversy. Further, there are more than a few Democrats who have also embraced this position, even as this position is completely incorrect.
What has occurred thus far is less controversial. Perhaps it would generate less interest from other reporters who may believe that a story exists. The Republican controlled state senate introduced a bill that would repeal the existing minimum wage law and create a new minimum wage law. However as of today, that bill has only been voted on once by the senate. The Michigan House of Representatives have not yet voted. The bill at this time is not even guaranteed to become a law. The rules of the state that govern the legislative process allows for time to pass before a bill can become a law. Further, even after a bill is voted into a law and signed by the governor a waiting period exists. There is a method of eliminating the waiting period and that is called immediate effect.
Under the rules both the Senate and the House of Representatives must have two-thirds of all members vote to enact immediate effect. Without the two-thirds vote a law cannot take effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session which coincides with the end of a calendar year. Republicans control more than two thirds of votes in the senate. Republicans control the house but only by a simple majority. Democrats must vote to pass this legislation in order for this bill to take effect immediately. Democrats voting to kill a minimum wage ballot proposal is a story, but this has not been reported.
Many Democrats voted in favor of this bill in the senate and it’s possible that Democrats will vote for this in the house, but that has not yet occurred. The media has reported this matter as though all votes have been taken and that the bill will soon be law. By voting in favor of this bill, Democrats have committed an act that they used to heavily criticize republicans regarding the supposedly unpopular PA 436.
In 2012, signatures were collected to vote on and eventually overturn PA 4 of 2011. Republicans tried every political maneuver to stop this process including some that arguably violated the state constitution. Once the voters repealed the law, the lame duck session, completely controlled by republicans, created what is now PA 436. In the least the Democrats criticized Republicans for ignoring the will of the voters, for violating a right of citizens to modify the law through the ballot. That criticism can now be shared by some Democrats.
Will the media offer a more in depth report on this topic or merely stick to the talking point that the minimum wage ballot initiative is dead? At this point in time, the signatures have not been turned in. Are the companies who own the media outlets using their ability to influence public opinion to discourage support? The media companies would be directly affected by a raise in the minimum wage. The business community, as reported by “the media” is against any changes to the minimum wage law. Are these reporters reporting on business that is not their own or are their reports including the companies they work for and the opinions of their employers?

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