petition

Politics & Government
11:43 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Activist groups complain that Michigan Legislature circumvents petition drives, elections

The group "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected" gathers signatures.
Credit Keep Michigan Wolves Protected / Facebook

A coalition of activist groups is trying to make an issue of the Legislature passing laws to bypass petition drives and ballot measures.

The groups say Republicans at the state Capitol have circumvented voters on questions including the emergency manager law, the minimum wage, and wolf hunting. In each of those cases, the Legislature passed laws that ran contrary to the results of an election or a petition drive.

Danielle Atkinson is with the campaign to increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. She says the Legislature acted legally, but violated the spirit of the Michigan Constitution’s power to use the ballot to initiate or challenge laws.

“This is not what the drafters of the state constitution intended when they gave people the right to petition their government.”

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Politics & Government
7:36 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Governing Michigan – a part-time job?

The Michigan State House (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan voters could see a question on the November ballot this year asking them to make the state Legislature part-time.

The Committee to Restore Michigan’s Part-Time Legislature has turned in petition language to the state Bureau of Elections.

“This is about actually taking a Legislature that’s been pretty much dominated by lobbyists and getting them back into a citizen-driven ideology,” said the group’s chair, Norman Kammeraad, on the Michigan Public Television program “Off the Record.”

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It's Just Politics
1:46 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

A lot can go wrong with a petition drive, but Right to Life has mastered the art of the initiative

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

The petition drive is the citizens’ direct route to changing laws. It’s part of the state constitution, Article 2, Section 9 (if you want to read it for yourself). The petition-initiated law is not subject to a veto by the governor. If the Legislature refuses to adopt it, the decision goes to voters as a statewide ballot question.

 

Right to Life of Michigan submitted petitions a week ago to initiate a law that would say people could no longer get abortion coverage as part of a basic health insurance plan. Consumers would have to buy separate coverage to get abortions paid for. The only exception would be an emergency abortion necessary to save a woman’s life.

 

“I had a similar bill that came to me that I vetoed,” Governor Rick Snyder reminded folks after the petitions were filed. “And that was the right answer in my view.”

 

Snyder vetoed this language when it was part of a bill sent to him last year by the Legislature because it did not include those rape and incest exceptions. That’s despite the fact that he has identified himself as “pro-life,” that is opposed to abortion, when he ran in  2010.

 

But not sufficiently so for Right to Life (which endorsed another candidate in the 2010 Republican primary.) Right to Life has a ready response when governors veto legislation it supports. So, once again, Right to Life launched a petition drive to enact as an initiated law what Snyder had vetoed.

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Politics & Government
11:10 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Requiring paid signature collectors to wear ID in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan could require people paid to collect signatures for a ballot drive to wear an ID badge.

Legislation to be considered by a House committee Tuesday would require the ID to say that the person is being paid and to identify who's paying the circulator. The ID would be required for constitutional amendments, initiated legislation and referendum drives.

Another proposed change would prohibit a circulator of recall petitions from being paid a fixed rate or amount for each signature.

The practice of paying people to gather ballot signatures has come under scrutiny in recent years.

The House Elections and Ethics Committee isn't expected to vote on the bill Tuesday.

Politics
4:51 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

INFOGRAPHIC: Size matters in fight over Michigan's emergency manager law

Font size explained
Dario Corsi Redhead Design Studio

Even though they won today, the group hoping to repeal Michigan's emergency manager law could still face a legal challenge in the Michigan Supreme Court.

Those arguing against the emergency manager voter referendum say size matters. And they say the font on the petitions circulated by the group Stand Up for Democracy was too small.

It doesn't matter if they collected more than enough signatures from registered voters in Michigan, the petition's challengers say, the letter of the law must be followed.

And the letter of the law specifies font size.

But if you really want to go there, and yes Michigan, we've gone there, it's not that easy to determine font size these days.

Check out the infographic above for some font-size forensics (the second slide shows the font size in question).

Thanks to Dario Corsi, a graphic illustrator with Redhead Design Studio, for putting this together.

So you be the judge. Clear as day? Or clear as mud?

Politics
7:32 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

McCotter drops plans for a write-in campaign to hang on to Michigan congressional seat

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, (R) Michigan

Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter has decided to drop plans for a write-in campaign for the November ballot.

The decision effectively ends the southeast Michigan congressman’s tenure in Washington after five terms.

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Education
2:54 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Online petition seeks to reinstate fired Pontiac teacher

screen grab of Harris on Democracy Now

A Pontiac teacher who says she was fired after helping her students organize a fundraiser for the family of Trayvon Martin is receiving support in the form of over 200,000 petition signatures. According to the Detroit Free Press, the online petition calls for Brooke Harris to be reinstated to her post at Pontiac Academy for Excellence and organizers plan to present the signatures during a meeting of the school's board at 5p.m. today.

From the Free Press:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit based in Montgomery, Ala., started the petition.

The district has denied Harris was fired because of the fundraiser, but Superintendent Jacqueline Cassell previously told the Free Press she could not discuss a personnel issue.

According to Harris, the Free Press writes, students in her yearbook class planned to raise money and pledged to wear hoodies to school, a violation of the school's dress code meant to show solidarity with Martin who was wearing one when he was shot and killed in Florida earlier this year.

Harris told the Free Press that when school administrators became aware of the plan, they moved to block it:

Harris said Cassell said no, and when she asked whether students could meet with Cassell to make their case, she was suspended for two days for being insubordinate.

Harris said she came to the school while suspended, so her suspension was extended to two weeks, but she was fired after questioning it.

It remains to be seen if the petition will have any effect on Harris' employment status.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
12:15 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Does Michigan need more casinos? It's a question voters may answer this fall

A petition drive is underway that may end with asking Michigan voters if they want more casinos.

The state Board of Canvassers approved the form of the petition today.

If enough signatures are collected, voters this fall will be asked to approve expanding the number of private casinos in Michigan by eight. The expansion is opposed by Michigan’s existing casino owners.

Emily Palsrok is with the Citizens for More Michigan Jobs, the group behind the petition drive.    

“Well we think there’s more room for competition.  We don’t think anyone should be afraid of that," says Palsrok, "The gaming industry in Michigan is doing very well.  If we look at the numbers that just the three Detroit casinos posted…they’re doing very well…there’s room for more competition.” 

There are several other proposals that could eventually double the number of casinos in Michigan.

Supporters of the campaign would have to collect more than 300,000 voter signatures to make a statewide ballot.

Among the locations that would get new casinos through the proposal are Detroit, Pontiac, Grand Rapids and Romulus. Others would be in Birch Run, Macomb County's Clinton Township, Wexford County's Clam Lake Township and DeWitt Township in the Lansing area.

Politics
6:55 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Review of emergency manager petitions continues

Opponents of the campaign aimed at overturning Michigan's revised emergency manager law have until April 9 to challenge voter signatures turned in on petitions supporting the repeal effort.

The deadline for challenging signatures that may be invalid was set this week by state election officials.

Election officials are reviewing signatures turned in by a group called Stand Up for Democracy. The group wants to give voters a chance to overturn Michigan's 2011 emergency manager law during the November election.

The group turned in petitions containing 225,885 signatures. The coalition must have at least 161,305 valid voter signatures to make the ballot.

State election officials are expected to determine by late April whether enough valid signatures were filed.

Politics
3:33 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Michigan Board of Canvassers approves two petitions

(L)Brian Robert Marshall/geograph.org (R) USFWS

Michigan voters may soon be asked whether utility companies should be required to collect a fourth of their energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. The state Board of Canvassers approved the language of a petition that calls on utilities to draw more from clean energy sources by 2025.

Mark Fisk is with a coalition working to get the question on the ballot this November. He told the panel reviewing the petition that the fee increases people would pay for more clean energy would be small.

“The average rate-payer would pay no more in a year than $15 for the implementation of this proposal,” said Fisk. “Moreover, we have analysis that shows over time this initiative would reign in the cost of rising energy costs, compared to doing nothing.”

The Board of Canvassers also approved a petition that would end prohibition of marijuana in the state for anyone age 21 or older.

Matthew Abel is director of Committee for a Safer Michigan, which is leading the petition drive. He said if voters approved the measure, marijuana would still be illegal under federal law.  

“Generally the federal government has a rule of thumb where they tend not to prosecute anyone who has possession of less than 100 plants or 100 kilos of dry material, so generally they stick to larger cases,” Abel said. “But they could prosecute any individual for one single plant or one single gram of marijuana.”

Each petition drive must collect more than 300,000 valid signatures to get the question on the ballot.

Emergency Manager Law
7:08 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Bid to end Mich. emergency manager law continues

A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan's law granting expanded powers to emergency managers appointed to run financially struggling cities and schools is continuing its petition drive.

Stand Up for Democracy says it plans to gather more voter signatures at southeastern Michigan churches the next two Sundays.

The group needs to collect roughly 161,300 valid signatures to temporarily suspend the law and make the November ballot. Group leaders wouldn't say this week exactly when they plan to turn in the signatures.

Supporters of the new law say it's needed to help fix financially troubled schools and cities. Emergency managers are operating in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac and the Detroit public schools system.

The city of Detroit is under a state financial review that could result in an emergency manager.

Politics
4:53 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

ACLU sues Genesee County Parks

Steven Depolo Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Genesee County Parks over petitioning restrictions. A woman was kicked out of Linden County Park last month while gathering signatures for the Committee to Recall Governor Snyder. When she asked why, the parks said their new policy does not allow petitioning in the park without a permit. Petitioners with permits were given an isolated 9-square-foot spot in the 135-acre park.

Michael Steinberg is with the ACLU in Michigan. He says barring petitioning except for a tiny spot in a park is especially shocking under the First Amendment.

"This problem of restricting petitioners is not isolated to Genesee County. We’ve been getting calls from people all across the state," Steinberg said.

Steinberg says he hopes the lawsuit will be an example for all Michigan officials.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom