Did Snyder Trade Signature On Anti-Gay Adoption Bills For Deal On Road Funding?

By Todd Heywood

LANSING - A source with a large national LGBT organization, speaking to Between The Lines on background, says Gov. Rick Snyder traded his signature on anti-gay adoptions bills - dubbed RFRA-style bills by the ACLU and other opponents - in order to get a much needed roads funding bill through the conservative legislature.

The bills would allow religious organizations, which receive taxpayer funding, to decline adoption services to any potential adoptive family which the agency feels violates its "sincerely held religious or moral beliefs."

"What we're being told by our corporate allies is there was never any serious doubt the governor was going to sign this bill," the source said. "We're told that he traded this for a road construction bill he wanted."

A spokesperson for the governor denies this.

Indeed, while Michigan serves as home base to nine corporations which scored a perfect 100 percent on the HRC Equality Index, none have spoken out publicly in opposition to the adoptions bills. Contrast that with Indiana where, shortly following the signing of controversial "religious freedom" bills there, major businesses condemned the law. With threats of a boycott, and organizations withdrawing conferences from the state, Republican Gov. Mike Pence was forced to reverse track and ask the legislature to amend the laws to specifically prohibit their use in discrimination against LGBT people.

Finding cash to fix Michigan's crumbling infrastructure has been a priority for Snyder's two terms. But faced with a much more conservative legislature - even though both chambers are controlled by members of his own party - Snyder has had difficulties finding the revenue to pay for the improvements. A compromise bill passed in the lame duck session last December. That compromise asked voters to approve a complicated formulate to increase taxes and fund various other state government programs. It was crushed in May.

Snyder favored a proposal to increase the gas tax which was approved by the Senate last session, but died in the House.

Sources in the Senate report that GOP leadership there is shopping compromises to pass a gas tax increase, and add revenue to address the road funding crisis. To address the issue, the state will need to raise an immediate $1.2 billion dollars.

"There was no deal linking the adoption bills with potential roads bills or any other legislation," said Snyder Spokesman David Murray. "The intent is to help ensure that children have the most opportunities to connect with a loving, forever family whatever the makeup of the family - heterosexual or LGBT. The legislation ensures that all families have the opportunity to adopt, and that they are connected with an agency that is able and willing to work with them."

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