petition drives

Signatures are collected for the MI Legalize campaign.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As a citizen, you have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. At the state level, that right and the right to put referenda on the ballot can be restricted or, in some cases, circumvented.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The future is cloudy for groups fighting to get those marijuana and anti-fracking proposals on the November ballot in Michigan.

The House last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 776, which sets a strict 180-day window for groups to collect signatures on ballot initiatives and constitutional amendment petitions. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are pushing to require that all signatures for a statewide ballot initiative be collected within a six-month period.

  The move could stymie pro-marijuana and anti-fracking activists from potentially receiving more time thanks to improved technology.

  Legislation approved along party lines by the Republican-controlled Senate would mandate that a voter signature for a constitutional amendment or initiated bill not count if it's written more than 180 days before the petition is filed. The bill is pending in the House.

The group "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected" gathers signatures.
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.”