LANSING, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A federal court is being asked to block a new state law that prevents local officials from discussing ballot proposals 60 days before the election.

The intent of the original legislation was to prevent local officials from using tax dollars to sell a ballot proposal sixty days before the election says WWJ’s Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.

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“The fact that we are sort of unilaterally, blanket the state with a gag order so the local officials can’t have a conversation with people who live in their community about what’s important issue there? Is ridiculous,” says Dan Gilmartin, executive director & CEO, of the Michigan Municipal League.

The complaint Tuesday against the state alleges the “gag order” law unconstitutionally infringes on free speech rights. Local officials are seeking an injunction so they can disseminate information before March 8 elections.

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The Republican-backed law was signed this month by Gov. Rick Snyder, who urged lawmakers to follow up with clarifying legislation. The law prohibits public money or resources from being used to disseminate information about local ballot measures through TV and radio ads, mass mailings or robocalls in the 60 days before an election.

Local officials say there’s no compelling state interest to bar their communications with voters in an “objectively neutral manner.”

 

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