The Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) has released an analysis of the two statewide questions appearing on the November ballot. This analysis continues a long history of CRC providing relevant, unbiased information about statewide ballot questions to help voters make informed decisions.
Two years ago, at the November 2012 general election, voters were asked to decide on six ballot proposals – five constitutional amendments and one referendum. The proposals dealt with six different topics, and each one was rejected by the voters. At the November 4, 2014, general election, voters will be asked to consider two ballot proposals dealing with the same subject — wolf hunting. While a yes vote on either or both Proposal 14-1 and Proposal 14-2 would permit a wolf hunt during the 2014 season, the Natural Resources Commission, which would gain the authority to establish such a hunt, has indicated that regardless of the statewide vote in November that it would not schedule a hunt this year.
Proposal 14-1 is a referendum on Public Act (PA) 520 of 2012. PA 520 names wolves as a game species and allows the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to establish annual wolf hunting seasons. This act led to the first wolf hunt in Michigan in 50 years in 2013, which resulted in 22 wolves killed.
Proposal 14-2 is a referendum on PA 21 of 2013. PA 21 was enacted in response to the referendum on PA 520; the referendum temporarily suspended wolf hunting in Michigan. PA 21 authorizes the NRC and the legislature to designate a species as game, allowing a wolf hunt to proceed.
Regardless of the vote outcomes on the two referenda, the NRC, which would gain authority to establish a wolf hunting season under each proposal if passed, has indicated that there will not be sufficient time following the November election to schedule a hunt this season. It has stated publicly that there will be no wolf hunt during the 2014 season. The NRC’s decision effectively renders moot, the two referenda votes as they pertain to wolf hunting this season.
These referenda will not affect wolf hunting beyond 2014 because a separate citizen-led initiative, the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (SFWCA) was enacted on August 27, 2014. The SFWCA, which takes effect 90 days after the adjournment of this legislative session, reaffirms the powers of the NRC listed above and clears the way for future wolf hunts starting with the 2015 season. The SFWCA contains an appropriation and therefore cannot be subject to a future referendum vote per a constitutional provision.
CRC’s full report describing the 2013 wolf hunt, the history behind the two ballot proposals, the citizen-led SFWCA, and the NRC’s recent actions to forego a 2014 wolf hunt is available at no cost here.