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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  


State Constitutional Issues

State Constitutional Issues

A Summary of the November 2012 Statewide Ballot Issues
Memo 1122 ( October 2012 ) 4 pages

On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will vote on a referendum and decide whether to amend the Michigan Constitution with five proposed amendments.

This paper a summary of the six statewide ballot proposals to provide brief explanations of each question, identify the implications if each question passes or is rejected, and offer some major issues to consider. The content is based on the more in-depth analyses of each question.

Inserting Legal Code into the Michigan Constitution
Memo 1115 ( September 2012 ) 4 pages

Following the ruling of the Michigan Supreme Court this week, Michigan electors are in line to vote on five proposed constitutional amendments at the November 6, 2012, general election dealing with matters of renewable energy, unionization of home health care workers, collective bargaining, state tax limitation, and international crossings. A review of the proposed amendments reveals that several are quite lengthy, go into substantial technical detail, and deal with issues that would be found in statutory law, not in the constitutions, of most states.

This paper explores the seemingly increased trend of policy advocates targeting the constitution in their initiative efforts rather than attempting to initiate law.

Statewide Issues on the November General Election Ballot: Proposal 2010-01
Report 360-16 ( October 2010 ) 2 pages

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released the sixteenth paper in a series focusing on constitutional issues. CRC is examining the state's Constitution in anticipation of this November's vote on whether Michigan should convene a constitutional convention.

Over the past nine months, CRC has laid out the process that is established for a constitutional convention, looked at Michigan's constitutional history, and analyzed each article of the constitution. We have identified obsolete provisions in our current constitution and issues that are likely to be at the forefront of a constitutional convention. This final paper pulls all of the previous papers together for a quick and easy look at the ballot question before the voters.

"Our analysis of the 1963 Michigan Constitution did not identify anything that could be identified as a constitutional crisis," said Jeffrey P. Guilfoyle, CRC's President. "But there are many issues that could be addressed to improve the operations of state and local governments in our state."

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.

Article II - Elections
Report 360-05 ( April 2010 ) 9 pages

The fifth in the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's series of papers about state constitutional issues focuses on Elections -- Article II of the 1963 Michigan Constitution.

Article II deals with elections, and contains two original sections that are obsolete and one section added by initiative petition, the intent of which the United States Supreme Court has determined to be unconstitutional. Article II also contains sections pertaining to direct democracy: recall, initiative, and referendum. This article also establishes, but does not define the role of, the State Board of Canvassers, whose members have on several occasions challenged its traditional ministerial role.

The language of a state constitution should reflect the reality of the law and should be understandable to citizens. Michigan's constitutional provisions for voting age, residency requirements, property ownership, and term limits for the state's congressional delegation are inoperative because of conflicts with the U.S. Constitution.

Although the role of the State Board of Canvassers is currently defined statutorily, a constitutional convention may wish to clarify the extent of the board's authority, especially as it relates to the provisions for direct democracy.

Finally, a constitutional convention may wish to consider whether Michigan should continue to allow recalls, initiatives, and referenda. If their use is continued, a con-con could address the ease or difficulty of placing questions on the ballot.

Article I -- Declaration of Rights
Report 360-04 ( March 2010 ) 5 pages

The fourth in the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's series of papers about state constitutional issues focuses on the Declaration of Rights -- Article I of the 1963 Michigan Constitution. This paper is the first in CRC's efforts to look at each article of the Michigan Constitution. In doing so, CRC takes no position on the question of calling a constitutional convention. It is hoped that examination of the matters identified in this paper will promote discussion of vital constitutional issues and assist citizens in deliberations on the question of calling a constitutional convention.

The powers of a state government are plenary, except to the extent they are constitutionally limited. The purpose of a bill of rights is to enumerate those basic individual liberties which the people intend to be secure from impairment by the actions of their government. Both the Constitution of the United States and the Michigan Constitution contain such enumerations. This analysis examines the dual role which a state bill of rights fulfills: according concurrent protection to individual liberties which also are protected under the federal Constitution and serving as an independent source for individual liberties which are not accorded recognition at the federal level. It also examines recent trends in amending Article I of the 1963 Michigan Constitution.

Amending the Michigan Constitution: Trends and Issues
Report 360-03 ( March 2010 ) 11 pages

The third in the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's series of papers about state constitutional issues focuses on trends and issues with amending the 1963 Michigan Constitution. The 1963 Michigan Constitution has been amended 31 times since it went into effect in January 1964, nearly doubling its length and adding to its complexity. Much of the additional length has consisted of changes that could have been made statutorily or that simply elevated statutory provisions to constitutional status.

Amending the Michigan Constitution: Trends and Issues discusses the process for amending Michigan's Constitution, which includes the initiative, in which citizens may circulate petitions that force proposed constitutional amendments (or statutes) onto the ballot, and the referendum, in which legislatures place such issues before the voters. The paper also describes the various proposed and enacted amendments to the 1963 Constitution considered by Michigan voters since its enactment.

"Amendments to the 1963 Constitution can be broadly categorized into 3 periods," said former CRC President Earl Ryan. "Early amendments focused on the powers and structure of government. From the mid-1970s to the mid 1990s, amendments arose from the so-called 'Tax Revolt,' and more recently amendments have been related to social issues including same-sex marriage, affirmative action, and gaming."

A Brief Michigan Constitutional History
Report 360-02 ( February 2010 ) 4 pages

The second in the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's series of papers about state constitutional issues focuses on Michigan's constitutional history. The people of Michigan have adopted four constitutions (1835, 1850, 1908 and 1963), have rejected two (1867 and 1873) and failed to approve the calling of a convention on 11 occasions (most recently in 1994).

A Brief Michigan Constitutional History describes the successful and unsuccessful votes to convene constitutional conventions and approve revised constitutions. It also compares the issues that led to a successful convening and revision of the constitution in the early 1960s to the issues voters are likely to consider in deciding this year's question.

General Revision of the Michigan Constitution
Report 360-01 ( February 2010 ) 4 pages

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released the first of a series of papers analyzing issues that voters may use to decide their vote on Proposal 1 on the November 2, 2010 ballot. Proposal 1 will ask Michigan voters whether a constitutional convention should be convened for the purpose of a general revision of the state Constitution.

"Among the many issues a constitutional convention may choose to address," said CRC President Jeffrey Guilfoyle, "Are the roles of the executive and legislative branches in the budget process, the balanced budget requirements, and the operations of state government when appropriations are not enacted before the beginning of each fiscal year."

The 1963 Michigan Constitution provides in Article XII, Section 3, that in 1978 and every 16 years thereafter the question of a general revision of the constitution shall be submitted to the electors of the state.

CC 1034, pdf File Statewide Ballot Proposal - IV: Proposal A -- Question Of Calling A Constitutional Convention, Question appears on the statewide ballot automatically every 16 years. This paper summarizes some of the issues as laid out in Report 313 (10 part series) ( October 94 ) 4 pages [15,039 bytes]

Report 313-1, pdf File Michigan Constitutional Issues ... The Nature And Purpose Of A State Constitution, Examines the basic principles underlying American constitutional law, particularly as those principles concern the nature of state government ( June 94 ) 4 pages

Report 313-2, pdf File Michigan Constitutional Issues ... The November 1994 Ballot Question And A Brief Michigan Constitution History, History of Michigan Constitution and comparison with other states ( July 94 ) 6 pages [35,659 bytes]

CC 1023, pdf File Constitutional Amendments And The Rule Of Common Sense, Considered the necessity of expressing constitutional amendments in an understanding fashion. ( November 93 ) 1 page [6,737 bytes]

Report 256, Michigan Constitutional Issues -- 1978 ( July 78 ) 47 pages

CC 897, Question of Calling a State Constitutional Convention to be on November, 1978, Ballot ( March 78 ) 4 pages

A Digest of the Proposed Constitution
Report 213, ( November 62 ) 40 pages [907KB]

The purpose of this memorandum was to distill the essence of what the proposed constitution offers, in order to place in the ahnds of the voter a means for formulating his own appraisal and decision on this momentous public question.

Details and specifics of individual articles and sections give way here to a generalized view of the proposed document. The reader who wishes more detailed particulars is referred to the section-by-section comparison of existing and revised constitutional language issued earlier by the Research Council, The Proposed Constitution—A Comparison with the Present Constitution, Report No. 212 (Revised), August, 1962, or to the series of Council publications entitled Analysis of the Proposed Constitution. A third source of detail is available in the Preface and the Address to the People, each published separately by the Convention itself.

A Comparative Analysis of the Michigan Constitution (Vol. 1 & Vol. II)
Report 208 ( October 61 ) 666 pages [1436KB]

This two-volume analysis of the provisions of the Michigan constitution is the first of three major series of publications to be issued by the Citizens Research Council marking the occasion of the Michigan Constitutional Convention of 1961.

The publication at hand is designed to trace the history of the present state constitution and to compare its provisions with prior documents, with the constitutions of the other states, and with the Model State Constitution of the National Municipal League.

It is not the purpose of this publication to attempt to tell anyone how to change the present constitution. Rather, it is hoped that it will serve to indicate the evolution of the Michigan constitution, to delineate present meaning or interpretation of its provisions, and to draw attention to the significant alternative methods of handling particular subjects as included in constitutions of other states or as contemplated by recognized authorities in state constitutional law.

Forward, Table of Contents, and Introduction (10 pages) [28KB]
Volume 1 (372 pages) [1189KB]
    Chapter I, Boundaries and Seat of Government (5 pages) [64KB]
    Chapter II, Declaration of Rights (40 pages) [108KB]
    Chapter III, Elective Franchise (19 pages) [65KB]
    Chapter IV, Separation of Powers (3 pages) [63KB]
    Chapter V, Legislative Department (114 pages) [274KB]
    Chapter VI, Executive Department (84 pages) [240KB]
    Chapter VII, Judicial Department (43 pages) [129KB]
Volume 2 (336 pages) [885KB]
    Chapter VIII, Local Government (49 pages) [152KB]
    Chapter IX, Impeachments and Removals from Office (7 pages) [65KB]
    Chapter X, Finance and Taxation (77 pages) [221KB]
    Chapter XI, Education (50 pages) [186KB]
    Chapter XII, Corporations (19 pages) [87KB]
    Chapter XIII, Eminent Domain (7 pages) [66KB]
    Chapter XIV, Exemptions (5 pages) [59KB]
    Chapter XV, Militia (5 pages) [58KB]
    Chapter XVI, Miscellaneous Provisions (17 pages) [82KB]
    Chapter XVII, Amendment and Revision (28 pages) [104KB]
Index (34 pages) [90KB]

Report 201, pdf DocumentMichigan Constitutional Issues, Briefly discusses, without editorial comment, the questions that appeared to constitute the major points at issue in deciding whether it was necessary to call a constitutional convention. ( June 60 ) 42 pages [207 KB]

State Constitution Provisions

CC 1039, pdf File "Headlee Rollbacks" and the Constitutionality of Public Act 415 of 1994, Examined the interaction between assessed value, which is the basis of Headlee millage rollbacks, and the taxable value cap as implemented by the Legislature. ( January 96 ) 4 pages [24,950 bytes]

State Constitution Revision

Inserting Legal Code into the Michigan Constitution
Memo 1115 ( September 2012 ) 4 pages

Following the ruling of the Michigan Supreme Court this week, Michigan electors are in line to vote on five proposed constitutional amendments at the November 6, 2012, general election dealing with matters of renewable energy, unionization of home health care workers, collective bargaining, state tax limitation, and international crossings. A review of the proposed amendments reveals that several are quite lengthy, go into substantial technical detail, and deal with issues that would be found in statutory law, not in the constitutions, of most states.

This paper explores the seemingly increased trend of policy advocates targeting the constitution in their initiative efforts rather than attempting to initiate law.

Article XII - Amendment and Revision
Report 360-15 ( October 2010 ) 8 pages

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released the fifteenth paper in a series focusing on constitutional issues. CRC is examining the state's Constitution in anticipation of this November's vote on whether Michigan should convene a constitutional convention. This paper focuses on Article XII of the 1963 Constitution - Amendment and Revision.

Alteration of individual provisions or provisions related to each other is called amendment. More extensive change, altering several unrelated provisions, is called revision. Article XII of the 1963 Michigan Constitution sets forth the ways in which amendment and revision of the basic Michigan governing document may occur.

The basic question concerning the process of altering the Michigan Constitution is whether it is, by some standard, too easy to do so. The 1963 Constitution has been amended 31 times since its adoption and, while this frequency does not appear to be out of line with other states, it may be argued that the Michigan Constitution is nevertheless accumulating a disproportionate number of provisions that should have been left to statute if, in fact, they should have been adopted at all. In addition, the Michigan Constitution has become a target of national groups wishing to establish their favored policies in the constitutions of those states that have the initiative.

"The threshold issue in any discussion of whether to make the Michigan Constitution more difficult to amend is whether to retain the voter initiative," stated Jeffrey Guilfoyle, President of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. "If so, should obstacles be considered that would maintain the fundamental, enduring nature of a constitution but at the same time recognize the necessity of keeping it vital and relevant? Such obstacles might include higher signature requirements, signature distribution requirements, or extraordinary election requirements."

PDF File The State Constitution: Its Nature and Purpose,
Misc. ( September 2002 ) 3 pages

The length and complexity of constitutional amendments proposed in recent years has concerned some observers and in the interest of stimulating discussion of this issue, CRC is reissuing excerpts from a CRC publication produced in anticipation of the 1961-62 Constitutional Convention.

CC 1035, pdf File Unfinished Business: Revising The Michigan Constitution, Examines provisions of the state Constitution which should be deleted because they are inoperative. ( January 95 ) 4 pages [14,017 bytes]

CC 1023, pdf File Constitutional Amendments And The Rule Of Common Sense, Considered the necessity of expressing constitutional amendments in an understanding fashion. ( November 93 ) 1 page [6,737 bytes]

PDF File Constitutional Aspects of State-Local Relationships - I: Municipal and County Home Rule for Michigan,
Memo 203, ( October 61 ) 28 pages

(Arthur W. Bromage - Professor of Political Science, The University of Michigan) Considers the organization of Michigan local government using home rule provisions, problems that have arisen since adoption of the 1908 Constitution, comparisons with other states, and possible alternatives.

PDF File The State Constitution: Its Nature and Purpose,
Memo 202, ( October 61 ) 29 pages

Paul G. Kauper - Professor of Law, The University of Michigan) The aim of this paper was to give perspective to income convention delegates on the overall view as to the nature and purpose of a state constitution both in relation to the structure of our federal system and in relation to the internal purposes served by the state's constitution.

A Comparative Analysis of the Michigan Constitution (Vol. 1 & Vol. II)
Report 208 ( October 61 ) 666 pages [1436KB]

This two-volume analysis of the provisions of the Michigan constitution is the first of three major series of publications to be issued by the Citizens Research Council marking the occasion of the Michigan Constitutional Convention of 1961.

The publication at hand is designed to trace the history of the present state constitution and to compare its provisions with prior documents, with the constitutions of the other states, and with the Model State Constitution of the National Municipal League.

It is not the purpose of this publication to attempt to tell anyone how to change the present constitution. Rather, it is hoped that it will serve to indicate the evolution of the Michigan constitution, to delineate present meaning or interpretation of its provisions, and to draw attention to the significant alternative methods of handling particular subjects as included in constitutions of other states or as contemplated by recognized authorities in state constitutional law.

Forward, Table of Contents, and Introduction (10 pages)
Volume 1 (372 pages)
    Chapter I, Boundaries and Seat of Government (5 pages)
    Chapter II, Declaration of Rights (40 pages)
    Chapter III, Elective Franchise (19 pages)
    Chapter IV, Separation of Powers (3 pages)
    Chapter V, Legislative Department (114 pages)
    Chapter VI, Executive Department (84 pages)
    Chapter VII, Judicial Department (43 pages)
Volume 2 (336 pages)
    Chapter VIII, Local Government (49 pages)
    Chapter IX, Impeachments and Removals from Office (7 pages)
    Chapter X, Finance and Taxation (77 pages)
    Chapter XI, Education (50 pages)
    Chapter XII, Corporations (19 pages)
    Chapter XIII, Eminent Domain (7 pages)
    Chapter XIV, Exemptions (5 pages)
    Chapter XV, Militia (5 pages)
    Chapter XVI, Miscellaneous Provisions (17 pages)
    Chapter XVII, Amendment and Revision (28 pages)
Index (34 pages) [90KB]

Bill of Rights; Human Rights, etc.

Report 313-3, pdf File Michigan Constitutional Issues ... The Declaration Of Rights Of The Michigan Constitution, Examines provisions of Article and the dual role which a state bill of rights fulfills ( July 94 ) 4 pages [31,399 bytes]

PDF File State Ballot Issues:
CC 903, ( September 78 ) 4 pages

The November, 1978 ballot contained two proposals dealing with criminal justicel. Proposal B - Parole Limitation (amend PA 232 of 1953); Proposal K - Denial of Bail (Article I, Section 15)

 

 

 

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Last Updated October 5, 2012