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Update on Ballot Referendum/Initiative

Controversy Continues on the Bargaining Rights Ballot Referendum
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 last week that the emergency manager ballot referendum’s type meets the required 14 point font size and thus the issue will be placed on this November’s ballot.  Justice Mary Beth Kelly, who was nominated by the Republican Party, joined the three Justices nominated by the Democratic Party in ordering the Board of Canvassers to certify the petitions to place the referendum on the ballot.  The ruling also clarified the current law that called for substantial compliance standards changing it to require ballot issues meet the actual requirements of the law.   The State Board of Canvassers met Wednesday and voted 4-0 to certify the referendum for this year’s ballot.  Now that the referendum has been certified, PA 4 of 2011 is suspended until the November election.

Following the suspension of the current emergency manager law, Attorney General Bill Schuette wrote in a formal opinion that PA 72 of 1990, which was repealed by PA 4, will go back into effect.  This means that all but the city of Flint will remain under their current emergency managers.  Flint’s emergency manager is a former mayor of the city and PA 72 bars former city employees from serving as emergency managers.  Governor Snyder will appoint a new emergency manager to Flint.  While PA 72 provides for emergency managers, their powers are far less than those under PA 4.  Opponents of the emergency manager law are looking into the legality of returning to PA 72 and another court challenge is a possibility as they do not agree with the Snyder administration. 

Another twist came when Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan and state Treasurer Andy Dillon announced that Governor Snyder will urge the legislature to adopt a new emergency manager law to replace the suspended PA 4.  There is a vehicle bill pending in the House that feasibly could be substituted, passed and concurred in during the August 15 session day.  However, neither the House nor Senate Republicans have stated whether they will pass new legislation.


Casino Ballot Initiative Faces Lawsuit

This past Monday, the Michigan Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the ballot initiative to increase the number of casinos in Michigan.  Protect MI Vote, the group arguing against the ballot, states the ballot initiative would both amend the constitution and rewrite existing statute.  The question at hand is if a proposed constitutional amendment can override a vote-initiated law.

Protect MI Vote is asking the court to order the Secretary of State to reject the ballot petitions and to not allow the initiative on this November’s ballot.  They are at odds with the Secretary’s office who does believe that she has the legal authority to keep the petition off the ballot on the basis of unconstitutionality.

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