Citizens have a right to know

Published 9:11 am Thursday, December 31, 2015

We live in a world where information is readily accessible.

As citizens, we’ve come to expect honesty from our public school boards, library boards, police and fire boards and municipal governments when they ask for a millage renewal, bond proposal or tax rate increase.

Under current law, members of these public bodies can address the community and distribute factual information to voters about an upcoming ballot issue. As an informed voter, I appreciate knowing the issues and the facts prior to going to the polls on Election Day.

Senate Bill 571, if signed by the Governor, would change that.

It would prohibit a public body, or person acting for a public body, from using public resources for factual communications referencing local ballot questions by radio, television, mass mailing, or pre-recorded telephone message for 60 days prior to an election.

This bill, passed by the Michigan legislature at the 11th hour on the last day of its session before winter break and without a public hearing, will soon be presented to Governor Snyder.

If signed by him, this bill would prohibit a local school superintendent, library director, police chief, fire chief or other municipal official from giving out factual information regarding a ballot question.

A citizen who desires to obtain this information directly from the source of the ballot proposal would be turned away.

Is this really the kind of democracy in which we want to live?

Senate Bill 571 will only serve to stifle the transparency in our government to which we’ve become accustomed.

Please join me in contacting Governor Snyder by phone or via email at and demand that he veto Senate Bill 571.

This bill is bad public policy and our citizens deserve better.


Dr. Kevin Ivers,

Superintendent, Berrien Regional Education Service Agency