ALA president urges Michigan governor to veto bill prohibiting access to information

For Immediate Release
Tue, 12/22/2015

Contact:

Marci Merola
Director
Office for Library Advocacy
American Library Association
312-280-2431

CHICAGO — American Library Association (ALA) President Sari Feldman urges Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to veto a campaign reform bill that would ultimately impact Michigan residents’ access to campaign information. Senate Bill 571 was passed on Dec. 16, with amendments from the House including a provision that bars government employees from using public funds to distribute information about a local ballot proposal 60 days before it appears on the ballot.

“While the intent of the Michigan legislature may be to ensure that government employees are proper stewards of public funding,” said Feldman. “In actuality, this broad-sweeping bill prohibits one of their public bodies – the library – from doing one of its main jobs: providing the voters of Michigan unbiased access to information, including factual information about local campaigns and ballot measures. On behalf of librarians around the country, I urge the governor to veto this bill.”

The provision in question is Item 3, Section 57, which states: “A public body, or a person acting for a public body, shall not, during the period 60 days before an election in which a local ballot question appears on a ballot, use public funds or resources for a communication by means of radio, television, mass mailing, or prerecorded telephone message if that communication references a local ballot question and is targeted to the relevant electorate where the local ballot question appears on the ballot.” In addition, public employees violating this ruling could be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 and could be imprisoned. For more information, visit the Michigan Library Association, http://www.milibraries.org/mla-urges-governor-snyder-to-veto-sb-571/ .

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, providing association information, news, events, and advocacy resources for members, librarians, and library users.

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