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CRC Column

The right to criticize government is also an obligation to know what you are talking about. 
-Lent Upson, 1st Executive Director of CRC  

Public Works Issues

Public Works - general reports

Article III -- General Government
Report 360-06 ( April 2010 ) 4 pages

The sixth in the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's series of papers about state constitutional issues focuses on General Government -- Article III of the 1963 Michigan Constitution.

Most of Article III contains provisions relating to the general structure of the state government, including designation of a state capital, separation of powers into three branches, and authorization for the governor and legislature to ask the opinion of the state supreme court on important questions of law.

Should a constitutional convention be convened, it would examine the provisions of Article III, General Government. Among the eight sections in Article III are three that are of special interest from a public policy perspective (and one of those only because of the use of the word "militia," the popular association of which has changed over time).

Section 4 provides that "The militia shall be organized, equipped and disciplined as provided by law." A constitutional convention could clarify the language of Article III, Section 4 to identify the Michigan National Guard as this state's militia.

Section 5 allows the state and local governments to enter into agreements with other states, the United States, Canada, or their political subdivisions, for the performance, financing, or execution of their functions, subject to other provisions of the constitution and general law.

Section 6 prohibits the state from participating in internal improvements, except as provided by law. Michigan continues to be one of many states with constitutions that include an internal improvements clause, which limits the state's ability to engage in capital projects. Judicial interpretations of states' internal improvements clauses are based on "essential" government purposes, "predominantly" governmental purposes, or other defining terms.

While the exception provided allows projects that receive legislative approval, the constitutional convention may wish to review the internal improvements clause to determine whether the conditions that justified the prohibition are still persuasive, and whether there are better approaches to protect taxpayers and ensure provision of modern infrastructure (e.g. high speed Internet connections) that is necessary to economic competitiveness and prosperity.

Public Buildings, Civic Centers (including housekeeping, maintenance of buildings, etc.)

A Survey of Present and Future Building Space Requirements in Berrien County
Report 206 ( February 61 ) 100 pages

This report is a factual analysis of the present and projected space requirements of the several county departments and agencies in Berrien County. The report was presented to the Special County Building Committee who, with the assistance of an architect, developed a building proposal to provide adequate facilities for county agencies at the least possible cost.

Road Systems & Bridges

Statewide Ballot Issue: Proposal 2012-06
Vote Requirement for International Crossings

Memo 1121 ( September 2012 ) 6 pages

On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will decide whether to amend the Michigan Constitution to add a requirement for a statewide vote before the State of Michigan constructs or finances new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles.

This is an analysis of this proposed constitutional amendment that describes the provisions of the amendment, the importance of international crossings, and the recently signed interlocal agreement with the Canadian government. The report looks at the unique provisions in the amendment for seeking a vote of the people and ambiguous language that would seem to suggest that the amendment and vote requirement could apply to far more than the crossing of the Detroit River that the amendment was designed to prevent or delay.

Improving the Efficiency of Michigan's Highway Revenue Sharing Formula
Note 2008-01, ( February 2008 ) 1 page

Summarizes Memo 1085

Improving the Efficiency of Michigan's Highway Revenue Sharing Formula
Memo 1085, ( February 2008 ) 14 pages

Michigan's state highway funding formula, which has changed only slightly since its adoption in 1951 fails to take into account highway use in distributing dollars to counties, instead using mileage. As a result, highway funding is skewed toward lesser traveled rural roads at the expense of heavily traveled urban routes.

This is the main finding of a new study by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The report, Improving the Efficiency of Michigan's Highway Revenue Sharing Formula, notes that, while mileage was once the only reasonable way of allocating highway dollars, it is now possible to use vehicle miles traveled as one part of the formula. Doing so could more equitably and efficiently allocate Michigan highway revenues, which are growing very slowly.

The study provides three illustrative scenarios demonstrating the kinds of shifts in funding that could be produced by injecting measures of road use into the formula, both with and without additional funding.

WebDoc 98-01, Michigan Highway Finance and Governance: A One-Year Report Card, One year after the release of Report 321, this paper evaluates the progress that has been made in adopting the recommended changes. ( May 1998 ) 5 pages.

Report 321, Michigan Highway Finance and Governance, Discusses the appropriate level of funding, allocation of dollars between the state and local units, and the administrative structure responsible for highway construction and maintenance. --- See also Memo 1046 --- ( May 97 ) 74 pages (For ease of use and downloading, this document has been broken into 6 sections)

  • pdf File Section 1 -- the Tables of Contents, Charts and Tables and the Executive Summary, pages i - vi [147,509 bytes]
  • pdf File Section 2 -- Introduction, pages 1 - 13 [129,675 bytes]
  • pdf File Section 3 -- Revenue Issues, pages 14 - 36 [449,834 bytes]
  • pdf File Section 4 -- Jurisdictional Control and Prioritizing Highway Needs, pages 37-49 [121,013 bytes]
  • pdf File Section 5 -- Physical Structure and Administrative Issues, pages 50 - 63 [112,669 bytes]
  • pdf File Section 6 -- State Highway-User Tax Allocation and the Conclusion, pages 64 - 74 [237,799 bytes]

Memo 1046, Michigan Highway Finance and Governancepdf File -- Summarizes Report 321 -- (November 96) 12 pages [88,506 bytes]

Report 304, Highway Funding in Michigan --- Summarized by CC 1005 --- ( May 92 ) 96 pages

CC 1005, pdf File Highway Funding in Michigan --- Summarizes Report #304 --- ( May 92 ) 6 pages [40,983 bytes]

PDF File State Ballot Issues: Transportation Proposals of the Legislature
CC 905 ( October 78 ) 4 pages

Proposal M -- State Transportation Commission & Taxes (Article V, Section 28 & Article IX, Section 9); Proposal R -- Railroad Redevelopment Authority & Bonds (new Article IV, Section 54)

PDF File The Oakland County Road Commission: Finances; Organization; Management
Report 247 ( September 74 ) 200 pages

A comprehensive study of the organization and operations of the Oakland County Road Commission for the purpose of identifying and implementing such changes as may be deemed necessary for maximum utilization of the Commission's resources.

Sewerage & Sewerage Disposal Systems

PDF File Significant Local Ballot Issues
CC 963, ( October 86 ) 4 pages

(Wayne County-Abolish Drain Commissioner; Macomb County-Electing a Commission to Draft a Charter)
Among local ballot issues to be decided on November 4, 1986, two have some statewide significance. Both deal with the subject of county home rule. Wayne County government now is in the 4th year of operation under a charter that separates legislative and executive powers into two branches. A Wayne County ballot proposal would further the move toward a unified executive and toward separation of powers in that county. Macomb County is voting on a proposal to create a charter commission to write a home rule charter for the county.

Citizen Control of Government & To Be Voted Upon: Direct Versus Indirect Administration; For Water Filtration; For Continuing Sewer Construction
Public Business No. 51 ( July 15, 1920 ) 8 pages

The first article explores the role of governmental research organizations in state and local government. The second article provides some explanation for three charter amendments and two propositions to issue bonds that appeared on the August 31, 1920, primary election. They included: A charter amendment to increase the number of supervisors representing Detroit on the Board of Supervisors of Wayne County; a charter amendment to provide for a single Commissioner of Recreation in place of the present Recreation Commission; a charter amendment to change the section applying to the Department of Buildings and Safety Engineering. Two propositions sought voter approval to issue a total of $37 million for public works improvements and extensions of the sewer system into newly annexed territory.

Report on Street Cleaning and Refuse Collection, Department of Public Works, City of Detroit
Report 9 ( February 17 ) 94 pages

This report recommended a number of changes for the young city that was rapidly increasing in size and commerce. Recommendations dealt with organization for the bureau; civil service practices to avoid patronage; and appropriation, payroll and record reform to provide better accountability. Operational reforms were offered for street cleaning, including: the street flushing, machine sweepers, pavement sprinkling, hand sweeping ("white wing" patrol, and snow work. Other operations reforms dealt with collection of refuse, including: providing better definitions of rubbish to allow separation, rerouting collectors, and greater incorporation of the new automobile trucks into the operations. The report implored Detroiters to take greater care to clean up after themselves or the work of the city sanitation forces could never keep up.

Report on Sewer Construction, Department of Public Works
Report 1 ( September 16 ) 46 pages

This preliminary report on the methods of sewer construction employed by the Department of Public Works of Detroit, is based on data collected through several field inspection trips and interviews with city employees directly responsible for such work. Although the time devoted to the study was necessarily limited, particular care was taken to observe not only several contracts or jobs, but observations were verified by one or more re-inspections at later dates. It is believed that the comments and suggestions presented are supported by a substantially fair and accurate view of the local practice of sewer construction. Recommendations as to the final changes in organization are not presented, because to be of value, such recommendations must be based upon a study of all branches of the Department of Public Works. This report therefore confines itself to such suggestions as may be effected without a general reorganization of the Department of Public Works.

Water Systems


Public Lighting

CC 1008, pdf File Ballot Issues: City of Detroit Bond Proposals -- August 4, 1992, Proposal A - Neighborhood Redevelopment and Economic Development Programs; Proposal B - Public Lighting Service and Extension Bonding Proposal; Proposal C - Recreation and Zoo Facilities Bonding ( July 1992 ) 4 pages [34,746 bytes]

Detroit Lighting

CC 971, Detroit Ballot Issues: Authorization Sell General Obligation Bonds ( July 88 ) 4 pages

Refuse Collection & Disposal

Nuisance Abatement (including returnable containers)

Water Pollution & Drainage (Conservation)

Air Pollution (Conservation)

Natural Resources & Conservation

Proposal 2006-01: Constitutional Amendment to Protect DNR Funds
Report 340 ( August 2006 ) 10 pages

Proposal 2006-01 is a legislatively proposed constitutional amendment to protect nine funds and accounts for programs operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The amendment is intended to protect the funds and accounts that currently exist in Public Act 451 of 1994, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, from future diversions for purposes other than those intended. The language of the proposed amendment is nearly identical to current statute. The proposal would extend the length of the Michigan Constitution by 1,834 words, a full six percent. A lengthy and complex state Constitution limits the ability of lawmakers to exercise the judgment they were elected to provide.

CRC was able to identify only one diversion of resources from these funds and accounts in the recent past, a FY02 diversion of $7.8 million from the Waterways Fund to help balance the state's general fund budget. Some of the funds and accounts have seen their balances decline in recent years, but those declines can be traced to reduced participation in certain activities and a decline in support from the state general fund. The activities taxed for these funds and accounts are heavily dependent on the weather. There might be fewer hunters, fishermen, and snowmobilers when the weather does not cooperate, but expenditures are still made out of these funds, thus resulting in reduced balances. As the State's budget troubles have worsened, money these funds received from the general fund has decreased considerably, forcing the revenues from user fees to play a more substantial role in funding the programs.

State Ballot Issues on the November General Election Ballot Proposal 02-01: Straight-Ticket Voting; Proposal 02-02: Great Lakes Water Quality Bond Authorization Act,
CRC Memo 1065 ( September 2002 ) 8 pages

Proposal 02-01 is a statutory referendum on Public Act 269 of 2001, which would institute certain changes in voting procedures, including elimination of straight-party voting. Proposal 02-02 asks for voter approval of a $1 billion bond issue over 10 years to assist local communities in sewer construction and control of nonpoint source pollution.

Memo 1051, pdf File Statewide Ballot Issues, Analyzes the three proposals which are on the statewide ballot at the November 1998 general election. ( September 98 ) 8 pages

  • Proposal A: Constitutional Amendment to Replace the Term "Handicapped" with "Disabled"
  • Proposal B: Terminally Ill Patient's Right to End Unbearable Pain and Suffering Act (Physician Assisted Suicide);
  • Proposal C: Clean Michigan Initiative Bonds.

CC 1030, pdf File Statewide Ballot Proposals - I: Proposal P -- Natural Resources Trust Fund - State Parks Endowment Fund, Would amend the Michigan Constitution to eliminate the diversion of natural resources trust fund revenue to strategic fund; increase the limitation on the accumulated principal of trust fund; and establish state parks endowment fund and distribute trust fund revenue to it ( September 1994 ) 4 pages [15,023 bytes]

CC 977, pdf File State Ballot Proposals -- II: C - Environmental Bond Issue - Authorize the State to borrow $660 million for programs that would clean up site of toxic and other environmental contamination, contribute to a regional Great Lakes protection fund, address solid waste problems, treat sewage and other water quality problems, reuse industrial sites and preserve open space; D - Recreational Bond Issue - Authorize the State to borrow $140 million for state and local public recreation projects ( October 1988 ) 8 pages

CC 950, pdf File State Ballot Issues: Proposal A -- Legislative Review of Administrative Rules; Proposal B -- Natural Resources Trust Fund Analyzed the administrative rules and natural resources proposals which were on the statewide ballot at the November 1984 general election. ( October 84 ) 8 pages

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Last Updated September 28, 2012