Five questions you need to ask candidates

Greg McNeilly

It’s that time of year again.

Trips to the beach. Picnics. Baseball games. Politicians knocking on your front door with a flier in their hand and a million-dollar smile.

Last week the Michigan House and Senate adjourned for the summer, with men and women in fancy suits pouring out of the Capitol like kids bolting from school at 3 o’clock on the last day of semester.

Their next stop? Your neighborhood. While lawmakers technically refer to this period of time as an “in-district work period,” reality is the next month or two are little more than an opportunity for the politicians to campaign for re-election.

You want to help elect some good candidates to the state House or Congress? Your chance is coming, and so are the candidates.

Here’s a list of five questions you can ask lawmakers and candidates this summer to get to the bottom of what they really believe, and whether or not they really support freedom.

One: Do you support workers’ rights? If you had the opportunity to cast a vote to repeal Michigan’s right-to-work law, how would you vote?

Every candidate on the planet will assure you he supports workers’ rights. But does he really?

Workers across Michigan have had the freedom to choose — or choose not — to join a union. Union bosses weren’t happy when their members were empowered by state law, and nearly every year someone in the state Legislature introduces legislation to undo this critical, pro-worker reform.

Would the candidate at your door vote to repeal your basic constitutional rights to freely associate? You deserve to know.

Two: Do you support the free market or government intervention and protectionism? Would you support or oppose legislation to give a private business a government-protected monopoly for its goods or services?

Members of the House and Senate are actually considering two bills backed by Michigan’s powerful monopoly electric utilities that would effectively give them 100 percent of the state’s electric market.

Competition in the marketplace leads to lower prices and better service. Monopolies restrict innovation, enable massive price spikes, and eliminate any incentive for a business to lower costs or improve service.

How would your candidate vote on HB 4298 and SB 437?

Three: Who should decide where my children go to school, me or government officials? Would you reject any effort to restrict parental choice in education?

The state Legislature last week voted on a massive rescue package for the troubled Detroit Public Schools. They also rightly rejected a plan that would have established a dangerous Detroit Education Commission designed to severely limit public school options for parents in Detroit.

If the candidate on your front lawn tells you he supports the Detroit Education Commission, you know he’s willing to cut you out of the decision-making process when it comes to your own child’s education.

Four: Do you support civil service reforms to hold bureaucrats who are bad at their jobs accountable to the taxpayers they serve?

Every candidate should. If they do, they’ll support House Bill 5677. Find out.

Five: Should the legislature and the governor’s office be subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act?

Elected officials are your employees, and you have a right to know what they’re up to.

If the candidate you just shook hands with won’t immediately commit to expanding FOIA you’ve got to ask yourself — what is he hiding?

Every one of these politicians — and their challengers — will tell you they support you and they want to do the best for their district, but how do you know they mean it?

Ask these questions. And listen carefully to what they will — or won’t — tell you.

Greg McNeilly is chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund.