Political Roundup: Ballot proposals take money, make their way through the courts

Aug 30, 2012

Three ballot proposals will appear on the November ballot. But four others are in limbo until the Michigan Supreme Court rules on them.

Depending upon how the court rules, voters could find themselves with up to seven questions to answer on the ballot. You can read more about the seven proposals here.

“The system is broken,” said Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants. One of those problems, he says, is campaigns using paid circulators to get on the ballot.

"I also think the system is broken from the standpoint of the Board of Canvassers…[A] two Democrat, two Republican body that was designed to mostly be administrative in nature has really become political in nature. And this bouncing of petitions back and forth between the canvassers and the court, I just think, is another indication of really broken system,” he said.

The four questions before the Supreme Court today are the proposals to strengthen collective bargaining rights, allow eight more casinos, require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to raise taxes, and require citizen votes on new international bridges. 

Susan Demas is political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

She says, “Typically, these ballot initiatives take millions of dollars, and money makes a huge difference in these issues, because most of what voters know about these very complicated issues comes from the ads that they see on television. And those, of course, are expensive.”

Sikkema reminds us that not all states allow these kinds of initiatives.

“Many states don’t even allow for this kind of amendment of the Constitution and petition and initiatives we’re witnessing today,” he said.

Also in the interview, Demas talked about the one-person grand jury that will look at whether House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) and Representative Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids)  broke any laws when they recruited a fake Democrat to appear on the ballot so Schmidt could avoid a tough reelection.

Listen to the full interview above.