State of Michigan issues and concerns facing broadcasters:
Board of Canvassers Sets Ballot Proposals
The Board of state Canvassers finalized the list of proposals that will appear on the ballot on the November election. Michigan voters will decide on three ballot proposals including: the marijuana legalization initiative, the constitutional amendment to overhaul redistricting and ban partisan gerrymandering, the constitutional amendment to reform the voting process. Please click HERE for the official ballot language.
Straight Ticket Voting Ban Upheld
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state upheld the ban of straight ticket voting in Michigan this November election. This means that the voters will not be able to choose a party’s slate of nominations with a single selection during the general election. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson praised the decision, stating that Michigan voters will choose the person instead of the party and will pay more attention to the nonpartisan offices and ballot questions.
Governor Signs Legislation to Exempt Critical Infrastructure from FOIA
Legislation exempting critical cybersecurity data from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law by Governor Snyder. Under the new law, the state’s plans to protect its information technology infrastructure and any assessments of the plans or equipment would not be public information. Michigan State Police (MSP) testified in favor of the bill, stating that the legislation would help ensure private entities are reporting cybersecurity threats to the MSP and are not withholding cybersecurity incidents because the vulnerable information can be requested under FOIA.
National Popular Vote Bills Introduced in State Legislature
Two identical bills were introduced in the State House and Senate promoting the National Popular Vote. Senate Bill 1117 (Sen. Hildenbrand, R-29) and House Bill 6323 (Rep. Tim Kelly, R-94) would join Michigan to the Interstate Compact to Elect the President by National Popular Vote. Under the compact, when states comprising at least 270 electoral votes join the compact, the number needed to elect a president, they would agree to cast their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in the presidential election. Supporters of the legislation argue that it would guarantee that all states play a role in a presidential election, avoiding the strategy of focusing on several so-called battleground states that could flip either way. Status: Senate Bill 1117 had a testimony hearing; however, neither chamber has plans to move further on this legislation.
MAB Urges Governor Snyder to Reject Microsoft’s White Space Proposal
The MAB reached out to Governor Snyder and members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation urging the lawmakers to reject Microsoft’s attempts to secure free TV spectrum for a nationwide channel (aka ‘white space’) to use for unlicensed devices. Microsoft is asserting that it is urgent that the FCC reserve a vacant UHF white space channel in every market nationwide before the repacking is finalized. The National Association of Broadcasters also (NAB) filed comments with the FCC stating that a Microsoft proposal that the company be granted access to 18 MHz of TV spectrum for unlicensed use should be denied as it will cause direct and immediate harm to translators and low power television stations displaced by the spectrum repack following the incentive auction. In even a best-case repacking scenario, the capacity simply does not exist to successfully accommodate all of these broadcast television station moves. By design, the incentive auction is already shrinking the broadcast television band and there will not be enough spectrum to keep all broadcast television translators and LPTV stations on the air. This disproportionately harms diverse, niche, and rural broadcast viewers that are served by translators and LPTVs.
Police Body Camera Bill Signed by Gov. Snyder
Governor Snyder (R) signed HB 4427 into law (now Public Act 85 of 2017), which prohibits public release of footage from police body cameras if the footage was taken in a ‘private place’ such as a person’s home. The new law also request police departments to create rules for disclosure and retention of audio and video recordings from body cameras worn by police officers. The bill was unanimously approved by both chambers of Michigan Legislature. Recordings also will be kept private during ongoing criminal or internal investigations but only for listed reasons such as public disclosure interfering with law enforcement proceedings or invading personal privacy. Body camera recordings retained as part of civil lawsuits will not be considered public records.