A Summary of the November 2012 Statewide Ballot Issues
Memorandum 1122, October 2012
This paper summarizes the six proposals that will appear on Michigan’s statewide ballot at the November 6, 2012 general election. An in depth analysis of each proposal and corresponding webinars are available at no cost on the Citizens Research Council’s website, crcmich.org. The CRC does not endorse candidates for office or take positions on ballot issues. In analyzing these ballot issues, CRC hopes to provide more information so that voters can make better informed decisions in formulating their vote.
Initial considerations: Several of the proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution contain enough detail to raise the question of whether the Constitution is the appropriate place for such detailed and often complex provisions, regardless of their public policy merits. 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. Voters should evaluate the public policy merits of each proposal as well as the appropriateness of each amendment in regards to its inclusion in the state’s Constitution. See CRC Memorandum 1115, Inserting Legal Code into the Michigan Constitution
Proposal 2012-01- A referendum on Public Act 4 of 2011- the emergency financial manager law
Public Act 4 of 2011 (PA 4) is the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. It is the third iteration of Michigan laws that allow the state to appoint an emergency manager who has authority over the financial decisions of a financially distressed local government or school district, and it extends the authority of the appointed emergency manager to the non-financial operations of the local government or school district. This act allows state appointed managers to assume the responsibility of locally elected officials, and grants those appointed managers more powers than locally elected officials have. Among the expanded powers granted to emergency managers under PA 4 are the authority to reject, modify, or terminate one or more of the terms of an existing contract and, under specified conditions, to reject, modify, or terminate one or more of the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement. Under PA 4, collective bargaining is suspended if an emergency manager is appointed.
Proposal 2012-02 – A Proposal to amend the State Constitution regarding collective bargaining
The Great Recession has greatly affected state and local government budgets, resulting in decreased public sector employment. At the same time, policymakers in Michigan and other states have enacted a number of laws that are perceived to adversely affect public sector unions. Among those is the move by Indiana to become the first Great Lakes state, and 23rd in the nation, to enact a right to work law.
Proposal 2012-03 – A Proposal to amend the State Constitution to establish a standard for renewable energy.
Michigan’s current renewable energy standard, created by Public Act 295 of 2008, calls for investor-owned utilities, alternative retail suppliers, electric cooperatives, and municipal electric utilities to generate 10 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2015.
Proposal 2012-04 – A Proposal to amend the State Constitution to establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council and provide collective bargaining for in-home care workers.
The Medicaid-funded Home Help Services Program provides in-home support to people who need assistance with personal care and household chores. The eligible individuals hire and fire home care aides who are paid by the state, with state and federal funds. The purpose of the program is to allow disabled and elderly people to stay in their own homes and out of nursing homes, which is often preferred by participants while saving money for the state.
Proposal 2012-05 – A Proposal to amend the state constitution to limit the enactment of new taxes by state government.
In general, nearly all legislative actions require a simple majority vote (affirmative vote of more than one-half of the members elected to a legislative body). However, the Michigan Constitution currently imposes a supermajority requirement (either three-fourths or two-thirds of the members serving in the Senate and in the House of Representatives) in certain instances, such as to raise school operating ad valorem property tax rates or give a law immediate effect.
Proposal 2012-06 – A Proposal to amend the State Constitution regarding construction of international bridges and tunnels.
Canadian trade is very important to Michigan’s economic health, contributing directly and indirectly to Michigan jobs and income. For more than a decade, representatives from Michigan, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, and Ontario Ministry of Transportation have been pursuing construction of an additional international crossing of the Detroit River.