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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 10/13/2012

Michigan's ballot proposals

Michigan voters are asked to do something outrageous this November: Walk into the voting booth and — after deciding on a long list of candidates — wade through six complicated ballot proposals, five of which would amend the state constitution.

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Not even a political scientist could reasonably be expected to make intelligent calls on all of the proposals without prior research. But many of them would, if enacted, have far-reaching effects. The Blade offers these recommendations:

Proposal One (retain the Emergency Manager Law): Vote YES. This is a referendum on a tool that state government needs to help sort out cities and school districts that can't get themselves in financial order.

Proposal Two (collective bargaining): Vote YES. If democracy means anything, workers and their unions need the right to bargain collectively, in both the public and private sectors. Opponents who say this proposal will bring down government ignore the part of the amendment that says strikes by public employees still can be outlawed.

Proposal Three (renewable energy): Vote YES. This proposal would require Michigan's electric utilities to provide at least 25 percent of their sales from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and water power by 2025.

Utilities say this proposal would lead to crippling costs. But the amendment limits rate increases caused by the switch to no more than one percent a year. And if holding costs down proves impossible, the 2025 deadline can be extended.

Proposal Four (home health-care workers): Vote NO. This poorly thought out proposal could end up making it illegal to care for an ill child or parent in one's own home. It also would require government to provide some financial services to patients without saying where the money is coming from.

Proposal Five (tax limitation): Vote NO. This is the most dangerous of the ballot proposals. It would essentially prevent any state tax increase from taking effect, even in a dire emergency, unless a two-thirds majority of the Legislature agrees, or a statewide vote is held.

Manuel Moroun, the billionaire monopoly owner of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, paid millions of dollars to gather signatures to get this proposal on the ballot, in what amounts to a personal war on Michigan government. Opposed by state Republicans and Democrats alike, the proposal would essentially paralyze government and destroy representative democracy in Michigan.

Proposal Six (blocking a new Michigan-to-Canada bridge): Vote NO. This is an easy decision on an outrageous proposal, also sponsored and paid for by Mr. Moroun. It would essentially prevent anyone from building another Detroit River crossing, preserving Mr. Moroun's stranglehold on cross-border trade, at the cost of making Michigan's and Ohio's economies less competitive.

Let's hope that next time, Michigan voters will be able to approve an amendment that makes the constitution harder to change, limits the number of proposed amendments per election, or both.



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