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Bill Would Restrict Political Activities Of State Workers

LANSING (WWJ) - A bill moving through the legislature that would put severe restrictions on the political activities of public employees and their unions is generating some spirited debate in Lansing.

Republican Representative Eric Nesbith told a House Committee Tuesday that the bill makes sense because taxpayer resources are being misused for political purposes.

"A school district in my area, that I represent and that's why I'm testifying, used their publicly funded robo-call system to promote the recall of Governor Rick Snyder," Nesbith said.

Democrat Tim Bledsoe from Grosse Pointe is among those who opposes the bill, saying it is too broad and would discourage teachers and other public employees from even contacting state lawmakers.

"Can you appreciate that, to some degree, this is going to have a dampening effect on potential whistle-blower activity out there, and is something that we don't want to discourage?" Bledsoe said.

Democrat Lisa Brown, who represents West Bloomfield, agreed saying the bill would handcuff teachers' ability to teach kids about government.

"When you get kids involved  at any early age they're going to be active voters, they're going to be active participants of our societies," she said. "I have some concerns of, with this language, that we're going to have teachers in prison for inviting us to come speak to our kids," Brown said.

The bill remains in committee.

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