Michigan Ballot Proposals 2012: How I’m Going to Vote, and How You Should, Too

This year’s Michigan ballot sports a whopping 6 ballot proposals. As a public service, I’m going to run through them, tell you how I’m going to vote (barring new information) and explain why.

1. The Emergency Manager Law – NO - Too many unknowns. To much potential for abuse. Clearly, some communities in Michigan need a lot of help but the new EM law is nothing more than a back door to privatizing public institutions and marginalizing public unions. Vote NO.

(Note: I’ve done a lot of soul searching on this topic It’s worth looking at the discussion in the comments below.)

2. Constitutional Amendment Regarding Collective Bargaining – YES - There really isn’t much argument here. Unions are a good thing. I’m not excited about this: “Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking” but codifying the right to unionize is something that absolutely belongs in the Michigan State Constitution.

3. Standards for Renewable Energy – YES – Honestly, I don’t think this one will pass, but it’s a good idea. 25% of Michigan’s energy will be required to come from renewable energy sources, and utilities can only raise rates 1% to facilitate compliance. Extensions can be given, so that, even if it passes, utilities can drag their feet ad infinitum, but it’s the best we can get. Michigan needs a renewable energy future not just because it’s a good idea, but because Michigan needs industry and Michigan needs jobs.

DTE and Consumers Energy are putting a lot of money into convincing Michigan voters to vote no on this. Don’t be fooled by ads from CARE for Michigan. They really don’t care at all about Michigan.

4. Constitutional Amendment to Establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council and Provide Collective Bargaining for In-Home Care Workers – YES -The Michigan Quality Home Care Council was created under Granholm in 2004 to provide collective bargaining representation and act as a regulatory body for home care workers. They would perform backgroun checks on workers and monitor them to make sure that standards were followed. The workers came to be considered State employees, but when Snyder came in, Republicans defunded the Council, the union sued and won a temporary injunction that will expire in 2013 when the Council’s contract runs out. Now, this initiative seeks to create a new council and restore bargaining rights.

Republicans hate it, which to me, makes it a good idea. Even if you don’t understand the details, that should be enough to convince you. The Council provides a needed service and establishes standards for a rapidly aging population.

5. A Proposal to Amend the State Constitution to Limit the Enactment of New Taxes By State Government – NO, MY GOD F**K NO If this passes, the state can’t raise taxes without a 2/3’s majority vote in BOTH the State House and the State Senate. This is short sighted Tea Party posturing as its worst.

Given an emergency, the State must reserve the right to raise revenues if need be. In today’s political climate, does anyone seriously believe that 2/3’s agreement on anything is remotely possible?

When GM finally goes under, and Michiganders are lining up to either get fed or find a job, the State better have the power to balance out some of that lost income revenue. We don’t need to wait for self interested State Congress members to learn how to get along. Simple majorities and regular elections are fine.

Turns out this gem is brought to you by Matty Maroun. If this passes, then the tax breaks that keep fat cats like Matty even richer will be impossible to take away. This seemingly small proposal cedes all taxation power to a small minority of people, namely Matty and people like him that worked hard to make sure their money wouldn’t go back to the State.

If this proposal passes, nearly all the loopholes and tax breaks, which let the rich keep their money and invest it elsewhere, stay in forever. It’s worth noting that Mississippi has a similar law, and we know how things work down there (at least I do). Even Republicans, Gov. Snyder and a host of business groups are against this one. In fact, the only people that seem to be for this are Matty himself, and the most right of right wing Tea Party groups.

Michigan can do better than this.

6. Constitutional Amendment Regarding Construction of International Bridges and Tunnels – NO NO NO NO- Brought to you and paid for by Matty Maroun, the 85 year old billionaire and owner of the Ambassador bridge who want to retain his dangerous private monopoly on one of the most important international crossings in the world.

Now, this is just one example of how disgusting and cash rotten American politics have gotten. Matty is flush with cash, and can buy just about everything he could ever want in the perhaps 2 years he has left on this earth. The only person this proposal would benefit were it it to pass is Matty himself.

The State of Michigan, the United States and Canada deserve a publicly owned international crossing, not a creaking pit for a money hungry bridge troll.

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About Peter Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

18 responses to “Michigan Ballot Proposals 2012: How I’m Going to Vote, and How You Should, Too”

  1. ypsijav says :

    I’m really surprised that you are voting yes on the EFM law. Doesn’t the existing EM law from 1990 (without Snyder’s 2011 expansions) provide for the rare emergency measures you are describing? My impression is that Snyder’s EFM expansion is intended to bust unions and liquidate public assets without any democratic input from the citizens.

    • Pete Larson says :

      Out of all 6, that is the only one I’m on the fence over. I think that the EFM law as it is being newly proposed is sound. Michigan holds some of the most financially troubled communities in the country, and the state needs powers to step in when problems arise. Preferably, problems are averted sooner, rather than later, as the updated version allows.

      However, this version requires too much self directed restraint on the powers that be, as I note above. At the same time, the arguments against the law (that I’m familiar with at this point), haven’t been very convincing. I’m all ears, though.

      So yes, I’m troubled on the issue. Out of all six, this is the one that I might change my mind over. More later.

  2. carolyn says :

    Just curious if you have any opinions on the propositions in California.

  3. ypsijav says :

    Is there a change from the 2011 EFM bill on the ballot proposal? I’m not that well-acquainted with the intricacies of it, but everything I’ve heard about the Detroit Public Schools EFM makes that sound like a disaster and the Benton Harbor situation seems worse. Maybe I’m being impractical, but it is deeply troubling to me that an EFM can summarily dismiss elected officials and take over complete administrative control of municipalities without any public accountability or input. In my limited understanding, the “weak” 1990 EM law in effect now is more like a structured bankrupcy and Synder’s is more like a hostile takeover. Has the new proposed version been made more friendly than this: http://markmaynard.com/2011/04/and-so-it-begins-benton-harbors-efm-first-to-invoke-new-powers-dissolve-elected-government/

    • Pete Larson says :

      As far as I know, the proposal on the November ballot is the same as the law that was passed last year. I did read both laws today. I am also hazy on the details, but what I understand is that the 1990 law only allows consideration of an EFM after something has occurred such as bankruptcy, nonpayment of wages to public employees, etc.

      The 2011 law broadens powers to allow EFM consideration to communities BEFORE something fiscally disastrous occurs.

      The process of deciding to send in an EFM is pretty lengthy and involves a number of parties working under fairly strict criteria:

      http://www.michigan.gov/treasury/0,1607,7-121-1751_51556-198770–,00.html

      I don’t know. Though the word on the street makes appointing an EFM out to be trivial affair, it clearly is not. Though I sympathize with what you’re saying and was myself out there rooting for schools like Catherine Ferguson to stay open, I think its hard to argue that DPS is without huge problems (and important to note that Granholm first appointed an EFM to DPS). Clearly, though, the DPS EFM responded to citizen activism in that case (though I’m not sure what the story with CFS is this year). I think that citizen push back to demand provisions from the EFM’s will go a long way.

      Though we can regard that as a hostile take over of DPS, I don’t think that leaving things as they were was a good strategy either, though I am not an expert on that issue.

      Given Detroit’s propensity for electing bozos that don’t have the city’s welfare at interest (hate to say it, but it’s true, read about Belle Isle), I think it pretty irresponsible to leave the State toothless to do something about a financial emergency until AFTER the lights turn off.

      As for unions, I agree. The State legislature could use this as an easy method of busting up public unions (through the expanded powers in the 2011 law), which is exactly why I’m on the fence. That, and the fact that it is a very complex and confusing issue.

      Again, I am very much on the fence here. I am certainly open for input and am doing my own reading on the issue.

  4. Ralph says :

    As a rule I ALWAYS vote no on anything that gives more power to government.

    • Pete Larson says :

      If only it were that easy. For example, proposal 5’s proponents offer that it takes the power to raise taxes away from government.

      Opponents would offer that it takes the power to eliminate corrupt loopholes away from government and expands the power of the State Senate (13 people) to provide tax breaks to special interests at the expense of the majority.

      Somebody gives up power and somebody gains no matter what the outcome.

      Even Proposition 1 is dicey. On the surface, the EFM take power away from the localities and put it into the hands of unelected, appointed officials. One could also offer that without the law, localities are at the mercy of corrupt and inefficient local governments (I maintain that city and township governments are the most corrupt in the land). Granted local officials are selected through local elections, but its the rest of the State that has to pick up the pieces and who don’t get a say in who gets elected locally. Either way, the power of government (either State or local) is expanded through the loss of control of the other.

      Running away from the argument and say that all government should be abolished is a non-starter. Folks like Matty Maroun would love it, but clearly, as in the case of the Ambassador Bridge, the only person that would benefit is Matty himself.

  5. Ralph says :

    Never said all .gov should be abolished, just that they should not be given more tools to reach into my pocket.

  6. ypsijav says :

    I don’t know if you have looked at this, but it is a fairly objective description of specifics on proposal 1: http://www.crcmich.org/PUBLICAT/2010s/2012/memo1116.pdf I’m definitely voting NO because I feel the 2011 EFM law gives too much power to unelected officials and I haven’t really seen success stories to convince me that EFMs are a good model. The more I look into it, however, the more it becomes murky. It seems to me that the whole EFM model is delusional, trying to blame systemic statewide economic issues on isolated bad decision-making by local gov’ts (although there is certainly enough of that to go around).

    • Pete Larson says :

      Thanks for sending this.

      I agree that greater statewide (and nationwide) factors have contributed to local problems at the cities in question but local corruption and mismanagement can’t be ruled out. Blaming the State is worthwhile for discussion, but doesn’t solve the short terms problems of cities in crisis.

      The problem is deciding what to do about either (local or state). Personally, I can’t think of any easy solutions, though you are right, the new EFM law might not add enough to warrant a change.

      Doing reading on all sides of the issue, every bit of it is murky to me. For this reason, and as a result of this discussion, I admit that I am leaning very hard towards NO.

  7. Don Larkin says :

    When was the last time Lansing showed any compassion for the residents or taxpayers of this State. Lansing needs to learn to live on what it has, and not to continue fleecing the taxpayers everytime they think they need money. When they raise taxes or fees, I am forced to live on less. When they prove they can and do the same, I will consider giving them what they’re asking for, until then, it’s no to everything they what.

  8. Michael Wertheim says :

    Learn to READ before making recommendations!

    In the Language of proposition 6:

    a YES vote is a vote AGAINST the bridge,
    a NO vote is a vote FOR the bridge

    • Pete Larson says :

      Yep, I’m for having a new bridge. Note that I will vote NO. Here’s the text of Proposal 6.

      Perhaps you are interested in reading it.

      “PROPOSAL 12-6
      A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION
      REGARDING CONSTRUCTION OF
      INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES AND TUNNELS
      This proposal would:

      1. Require the approval of a majority of voters at a statewide election and in each municipality where “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located before the State of Michigan may expend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.

      2. Create a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” that means, “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”

      Should this proposal be approved?

      YES
      NO __”

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