I'm Going to Change Michigan's Constitution

Submitted by Bill Lucas on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 19:20

[02/14/2018 Editor's Note:  The web site for this campaign has been taken down due to lack of funds available to pay for another year of hosting.  The facebook page "Voters fo Fair Use of Ballot Referendum - Michigan" is still up.]

[03/23/2013 Editor's Note:  Keep reading if you like, but the "official" web site for the project is now here:  www.votersfubr.org.]

I hope to place on the ballot in 2014 a proposal to amend Michigan's constitution.  It will be a proposal to expand the power of referendum.

If you remember from Government class, referendum is where a new law is allowed to go before the voters for their approval before it becomes effective.

In Michigan, the power of referendum is reserved only for laws which do not contain appropriations (spending).  The specific passage in the state constitution says:

"The power of referendum does not extend to acts making appropriations for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds and must be invoked in the manner prescribed by law within 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted."

My proposal will be to remove all the words from "... does not extend ..." to "... state funds and ...", leaving in that sentence just the text that states how soon it must be invoked.

The final proposal could consist of just that change.  However, in my research of other states' referendum rights, I was impressed by a provision in Oklahoma's constitution concerning what in a law might be challenged.  They allow parts of a law to be challenged, leaving the rest of the law to become effective as scheduled.  Therefore, another option is (in addition to removing the text mentioned above) adding this type of statement:

"The power of referendum may be invoked by the people against one or more parts or sections of any law in the same manner in which such power may be invoked against a whole law."

Not wanting to cause the people of the state to become victims of the law of unintended consequences, I was thinking about what damage might be caused to state finances if a minority of citizens petitioned for referendum against law which contained the state budget.  Without the immunity from referendum enjoyed by laws with appropriations, only eight percent of voters could freeze spending.  This is not unfathomable in an environment where deficit hawks have no qualms about shutting down government to make their case.  Accordingly, a third option for the proposal is to include language which protects and authorizes appropriations even if the law containing them is challenged.  This leads to the third option (to be added to the others above):

"If a law as to which the power of referendum has been invoked contains appropriations for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds, such appropriations shall become become usable as specified in the law and without regard to the referendum."

To facilitate my campaign I've registered a ballot question committee ("Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum"), reserved a domain name, created a committee bank account, and engaged the state Bureau of Elections on ballot petition language.  Yet to come are a web site (which I'll develop), a P.O. Box, approval of petition forms by the state Board of Canvassers, and printing enough forms to collect the required 323,000 valid signatures to place it on the ballot.

I hope to receive your support on this effort over the next few months.  The web site, P.O. Box, and forms are going to cost about $600-700 combined.  You can help by donating to the campaign through Paypal.  You can use the button below to get directly to my committee "storefront" on Paypal:
[Editor's note:  button stopped working]

Thank you for taking the time to read about this effort.