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Published: Wednesday, 11/7/2012

Measure to block new bridge failing

Michigan emergency-manager law gaining approval; others rejected

BY JACK LESSENBERRY
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
The owner of the Ambassador Bridge backed Proposal 6, which would require a statewide referendum before construction of a second link over the Detroit River. The owner of the Ambassador Bridge backed Proposal 6, which would require a statewide referendum before construction of a second link over the Detroit River.
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DETROIT — Michigan voters turned thumbs down on five proposed state constitutional amendments Tuesday, rejecting in the process Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel J. “Matty” Moroun’s expensive effort to prevent a new Detroit River crossing.

With nearly half the vote counted, Proposal 6, which would have prevented any new bridge or tunnel from being built without a statewide referendum, was behind nearly two to one.

Mr. Moroun spent more than $33 million to pay to collect signatures to put the proposal on the ballot, then financed TV commercials to persuade voters a new bridge would cost them. Gov. Rick Snyder denied it.

The governor and the government of Canada announced plans in June to build a second bridge two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge, built in 1929. Canada has pledged to cover Michigan’s costs and would be repaid from tolls.

Four other ballot proposals met a similar fate. Proposal 2, which would have guaranteed collective bargaining rights for workers in the public and private sectors, was losing 3-2. Sara Wallenfang, spokesman for Protect Our Families, a union coalition supporting the amendment, said, “Corporate special interests spent $32 million lying to voters to confuse them. Working people will continue the fight to ensure a voice for fair wages, benefits, and safe working conditions.”

Proposal 3 would have mandated that state utilities produce 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. It was losing almost 2-to-1. Proposal 4, which would require the state help home health-care workers unionize and require caregivers to join the union, was losing badly too.

The most controversial of the possible amendments, Proposal 5, would have prevented the legislature from ever raising taxes or changing tax rates by less than a two-thirds majority. Both parties’ leaders lobbied hardest against this proposal, funded by Mr. Moroun. It fell by the largest margin, about 70 percent.

Voters also were asked to approve or reject a law passed by the Legislature last year that enabled the governor to appoint all-powerful emergency managers to run cities or school districts that were failing to meet their financial obligations. Unions opposed the law that gives emergency managers the right to break union contracts if necessary. But with half the ballots counted, 55 percent of voters seem to be approving keeping the emergency manager law.



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