What do Michigan House Representatives Peter Pettalia (R-106), Bob Genetski (R-80), Ray Franz (R-101) and Joel Johnson (R-97) have against Michigan farmers?
Hint: It’s something about their employees….(seasonal workers).
All four of these lawmakers represent out-state districts, and while it’s easy to assume that farming is a strictly rural endeavor, densely populated Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw, Monroe and Macomb Counties account for a whopping $302.6 million of the state’s $71.3 billion in annual agri-business. Farming is the number two industry in the state, and it’s more reliable than manufacturing as a steady economic base. The industry employs 600,000 people. The state is second only to California in crop diversity, with twelve of Michigan’s crops being number one in the nation. Many of these crops are dependent on seasonal workers to harvest them by hand. Farmers could not survive without this workforce, nor could our struggling economy.
We need migrants more than they need us.
Yet, these four lawmakers continue to sponsor silly laws that are no more than thinly veiled attempts to harass Michigan’s crop workers. Two years ago, they attempted to pass a law styled after the now discredited and much reviled Arizona anti-immigrant law which, had it passed in Michigan, would have destroyed much of the state’s seasonal crop production.
Here we go again. Yesterday, these guys lead by Pettalia, introduced HB 4372 , a bill that makes English the official language of Michigan. The proposed law is nothing more than a waste of time and an overt exercise in bigotry. It changes nothing.
The wording of the bill carefully states that “English is the official language of this state” and that it shall be used for all records, laws, meetings and documents, yada-yada. Then, in Sec. 4(1) it qualifies that: “In addition to printing official documents and forms in English, a state agency or local unit of government may use or print official documents and forms in languages other than English.” And in Sec. 5(1) it further exempts education, instruction, public safety, health, justice, commerce, tourism, sporting and cultural events.
So, what’s the point? It’s what Michigan has already been doing since, er…statehood.
It’s not as though the Register of Deeds has suddenly adopted Portuguese, or your drivers test appeared in Swahili.
This bill is little more than an attempt to shamelessly cater to the paranoid demographics of these four awful lawmakers.
Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters legislative Transparency Project