ballot proposals

The election is now only four days away, and I’ve been thinking about what will happen afterward.

Earlier this week, I received a nasty phone call from a woman named Bonnie.

She believes President Obama is evil, and a traitor.

She thinks the media are covering up the truth behind the killing of the American ambassador to Libya.

She was also upset that we are covering up the “fact,” as she put it, that President Obama’s family were all Communists.

I told her, in not very polite terms, that was idiotic.

She began screaming and I hung up.

What's on your ballot? Election 2012 voting resources

Nov 1, 2012

So far over $140 million has been spent by campaigns for and against Michigan's six ballot proposals. That kind of money can pay for a lot of information (or misinformation) in the form of TV ads, phone calls, and mailers.

Thus Michigan voters can be forgiven for losing patience with the process. But that doesn't relieve them of their democratic duties.

Here are a few resources that voters can use to get the basic information they'll need for election day, and if they choose, a little more:

The week in Michigan politics

Oct 31, 2012
User: cncphotos / flickr

Every week Michigan Radio talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's been happening in Michigan politics.

This week Lessenberry and Kyle Norris talked about how Governor Rick Snyder is campaigning against all of the ballot proposals except for Proposal 1. Prop 1 involves emergency managers. And how Proposal 5, the proposal that deals with raising taxes, seems to be the most confusing and controversial proposal.

Norris and Lessenberry also discussed if Hurricane Sandy will influence Michigan voters, and how a recent Romney campaign ad claims the auto bailout resulted in GM using that money to hire more workers in China than in the U.S. Lessenberry says the ad isn't true.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A giant tour bus outside the Grand Rapids hotel where Governor Rick Snyder spoke Monday says it all – vote yes on prop one and no on the rest.

Snyder, some business leaders and even an emergency financial manager will be on the bus for the four day tour. They’ll stop in towns throughout the state to discuss the proposals.

Governor Snyder says he’s trying to better inform voters about their options.

There’s a week to go before election day, and increasingly, the big story, or maybe big scandal in Michigan is the six ballot proposals -- and the vast amounts of money being poured into them.

Michigan, whatever the pundits pretend, is not really a swing state, not anymore. It’s been months since either President Obama or Governor Romney has visited the state. This year’s race for the U.S. Senate is virtually invisible. But the ballot proposals are anything but.  And unbelievable amounts of money have been spent on them.

Next week, with just a week and a half to go before Election Day, Governor Snyder will board a bus to tour the state. The purpose of the trip: to focus attention on the Emergency Manager Law referendum and the five proposed amendments to the state constitution that you’ll find on the November ballot.

The Governor says he’s going all out, “I’m in campaign mode, to be open with you. I’m not running for office, as you know, right now… I’m setting up a schedule to say this is a campaign, because this is a campaign for Michigan’s future.” The governor is calling for a “yes” vote on Proposal One and “no” on the rest. This election has been called a referendum that will determine the success of the rest of his first term.

So, for us political junkies, it raises the question: can a governor, particularly one “in campaign mode,” really push the results of a ballot campaign in one direction or another. Typically, the answer is “no.” It’s often tried but usually a politician’s appeal or popularity does not rub off onto ballot proposals. Though they can gather a bit of media attention at first, endorsements are one of the most overrated political activities. The fact is, campaigns win or lose on the strength of message and organization. So, then, why do politicians engage in endorsements? Well, because politicians work with what they’ve got. A governor still has a platform, and it’s easier to sow seeds of doubt than to sell a ballot question. That’s why the governor is already working on a Plan B for a re-vamped Emergency Manager Law after the election, in case the EM Law is overturned.

MEA

Michigan's Proposal 2 ballot campaign is being watched across the country. The proposal seeks to enshrine collective bargaining rights for public and private employees into the Michigan Constitution.

Steven Greenhouse wrote about the implications of Michigan's Proposal 2 in a recent New York Times piece.

An emergency manager has been operating Benton Harbor for over two years.
notashamed / flickr

In November, Michigan voters will decide the fate of Public Act 4 of 2011 (PA 4)—the controversial emergency manager law.

PA 4 is the latest of three Michigan laws that define the state’s ability to appoint emergency managers to oversee financially distressed local governments.

Under the law, emergency managers have the power to modify and terminate existing contracts, and in some cases, collective bargaining agreements.

Since August 8, when the Board of Canvassers placed Proposal 1 on the ballot, PA 4 has been suspended while awaiting the statewide referendum.

The rules lawmakers in Lansing play by could change after November 6.

That's when you will decide on six statewide ballot proposals.

Proposal 1 is a referendum on the state's Emergency Manager Law.

Proposals 2 through 6 seek to amend the state's Constitution.

Voters in Michigan have not been faced with this many proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution since 1978, when they decided on nine amendments.

So is the state constitution a good place to make these changes?

cncphotos / flickr

This week Morning Edition host Christina Shockley talked with Michigan Radio's political analyst about the legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, results of a poll that looks at where Michiganders stand when it comes to the six ballot proposals voters will see in the next three weeks and the bankruptcy of U.S. operation of electric car battery maker, A123 Systems.

Wind power could feature prominently in Michigan energy production if voters amend the state constitution to include a new renewable energy standard.
cwwycoff1 / flickr

This is a story I produced for NPR's Morning Edition.  Editors were interested in Proposal 3 in Michigan because, if it passes, it would be the first time a state constitution would be amended for a Renewable Portfolio Standard. We'll be looking at this proposal in more detail in future reports.

There are business effects to some of the more than 170 statewide ballot measures to be decided in next month's elections. In California, voters will determine if labels should be required on genetically-modified food. People in Arkansas will vote whether to increase taxes for highways and bridges. And one measure in Michigan is capturing attention - whether the state constitution should be amended to change how utilities get their electricity.

Anna Strumillo / fotopedia

Under the federally-funded Home Help Services Program, qualifying elderly or disabled residents of Michigan are eligible to receive in-home assistance with personal care and household chores.

Participants of the program have discretion in the hiring and firing of home health aides, and have their services paid for by Medicaid funds administered through the Michigan departments of Community Health and Human Services.

Wind power could feature prominently in Michigan energy production if voters amend the state constitution to include a new renewable energy standard.
cwwycoff1 / flickr

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) promote the use of renewable energy by requiring that a minimum percentage or amount of energy sold in a state come from sources like wind, solar, biomass, or hydropower. 

There are currently 29 states with some sort of RPS in place. Michigan is one of them. 

Michigan’s current standard, passed by the legislature in 2008, calls for 10 percent of retail electricity sales to be derived from renewable sources by 2015.

Cities like Pontiac are dealing with the affects of Public Act 4--the Emergency Manager Law.
Dave Garvin / Flickr

Voters in November will decide the fate of Michigan’s state-imposed remedy for most struggling cities—Public Act 4, also known as the Emergency Manager Law. 

Voting “yes” on the referendum keeps PA4. Voting “no” will repeal it. If that happens, the state says it will revert back to the older PA 72, the Emergency FINANCIAL Manager law. The state is currently operating under that law because Public Act Four is suspended until after voters go the polls.

Currently, seven Michigan cities and school districts are run by state-appointed managers.

flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan voters will see six proposals on their ballots.

There is one referendum on a current law, and five proposed amendments to the Michigan State Constitution. 

See the links below for the proposals as they will appear on your ballot.

Be sure to check back in the coming weeks as Michigan Radio will be providing detailed analysis of each proposal.

Referendum:

Proposal 1: The emergency manager law

Patrick Wright of the Mackinac Center says home health care workers are being forced to pay union dues.
Mackinac Center

Michigan could void its contract with thousands of home health care workers if a state board agrees with a legal action filed this week by the Mackinac Center.

The free market think tank is asking the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to rule that home health care workers aren’t public employees, but rather private contractors who can’t unionize.

The workers are organized under the Service Employees International Union.

The Mackinac Center’s Pat Wright says they’re forced to pay dues that should be going to patient care.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder voices his opinion on the ballot proposals.
YouTube

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released six videos expressing his opinion on the six ballot proposals facing voters this fall.

And just like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Snyder is encouraging a "no" vote on all five proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution. He is encouraging a "yes" vote on the referendum on the emergency manager law (Public Act 4).

From Snyder's press release:

“I respect the initiative process as a fundamental democratic right, but the proposed constitutional amendments in November’s election have potentially dangerous long-term consequences for Michigan,” Snyder said. “Enshrining these seriously flawed proposals within our constitution would roll back positive reforms that are helping reinvent our state, and I encourage citizens to view them with skepticism.”

You can listen to Gov. Snyder's reasoning in his YouTube videos below. By the time he gets to proposal six, his voice seems a little strained:

Immortal Poet / Flickr

It's official. There will be six questions on the state's November ballot: Five proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution and one referendum on the state’s emergency manager law. And, we’re looking at some big battles here; we’ll certainly see a whole lot of money pouring into these efforts to change state law. In this week’s It’s Just Politics we take a look at how these ballot questions just might work as vote-drivers.

It’s a GOTV Kind of a Year

This year we have very few undecided voters – that group of anywhere from a third to even less than a quarter of the people that wait until the last minute to make up their minds. A lot of people don’t vote at all – in Michigan, about 40 percent of registered voters don’t actually make it to the polls. That’s referring, however, to the presidential race. In a presidential election year  that’s the biggest driver that gets people out to vote. There’s no doubt though that more people are still undecided about races and questions that are lower on the ballot. So, for many political strategists, the question becomes: what happens if you can somehow persuade some of those people to get out on Election Day?

Can Ballot Questions Get-Out-the-Vote?

Certainly, ballot questions are used to determine policy on issues. But they can also motivate people to get out and vote on issues they care about like same-sex marriage, affirmative action or abortion. This year, in Michigan, we have questions dealing with union rights and taxes. Democrats are pinning some of their electoral hopes on the Protect Our Jobs ballot question. The Protect Our Jobs proposal would guarantee bargaining rights, reverse a bunch of anti-union laws passed by the Legislature and Governor Snyder, and make sure there’s no way lawmakers could pass a right-to-work law in Michigan.

User: silatix / Flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court has approved three more ballot proposals which will appear on the November ballot.

The court approved proposals to amend the state constitution to protect collective bargaining rights, the proposal to require two thirds super majorities in the Legislature to increase taxes, and a proposal that would require state wide votes for publicly funded international bridges or tunnels to Canada.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White talks with Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Five million Michigan voters will go to the polls two months from today. When they are handed their ballots and walk into the voting booth, they will face six ticking time bombs.

I’m talking about the ballot proposals. Yesterday, the State Supreme Court ended a legal battle by ordering three more proposed constitutional amendments on to the ballot. They’ve already put two others there, plus a referendum on the emergency manager law.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Three ballot proposals approved

Michigan voters will decide on six ballot proposals in November. The state Supreme Court rejected challenges to three out of four proposed amendments yesterday. The court approved amendments to guarantee collective bargaining rights, to require two-thirds super-majority votes in the Legislature to increase taxes, and statewide votes for any future international bridges to Canada. The proposal to authorize eight more casinos in the state was not approved.

Bentivolio wins primary in 11th disctrict

Former teacher Kerry Bentivolio won the special primary election in Michigan’s eleventh district. Bentivolio was one of four Republicans vying to complete the remainder of Thaddeus McCotter’s term in Congress. He'll face Democrat David Curson in the special general election to decide who serve the remaining few weeks in McCotter’s term. McCotter resigned in July after it was discovered that petition signatures were forged or copied in at least two of his campaigns.

Medical marijuana debate in Wyoming, Mich.

The Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming is challenging a judge’s ruling that overturned its ban on medical marijuana. The Wyoming City Manager says city council worries that medical marijuana will increase crime and cause confusion for police. Michigan’s Court of Appeals struck down Wyoming’s medical marijuana ban last month. The court says any prosecution under federal laws would be up to the federal government, not local governments.

User: silatix / Flickr

Update 5:49 p.m.

MPRN's Rick Pluta tells us that this Friday the Board of State Canvassers will meet to finalize the language for the six ballot questions. Pluta says there is a word limit for each proposal that the Board has to adhere to.

3:22 p.m.

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that the following ballot proposals should be placed on the November ballot:

  • Tax hike supermajority
  • Future bridge and tunnel vote
  • Collective bargaining

The high court ruled that the casino expansion ballot initiative will not be place on the ballot.

So, voters in Michigan will face a total of six ballot initiatives this November.

Follow the links on the proposal description to access the full text of the ballot question.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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.

user Jeffness / Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court will hold a hearing tomorrow on whether four questions should appear on the statewide November ballot.

The court is expected to rule very quickly to meet election deadlines.

The proposals would

This November, voters in Michigan will be asked to decided on around a half-dozen controversial issues. If the election were held today, the The Detroit News has a breakdown on where things would end up. Polls show the emergency manager law would be upheld, as would collective bargaining rights, and the effort to stop a new international bridge would fail.

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