Michigan Group Launches Pro-Initiative Initiative

Fri, Feb 7 2014 by Neal Hobson

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved circulation of an initiative constitutional amendment to ease rules for petitioning in Michigan. The sponsors of the proposal, a group called Put the Citizens in Charge, have until July 7 to collect 322,000 valid signatures in order for the measure to appear on the ballot this November.

Reducing costs is at the heart of the issue.

“One of the biggest complaints people have about the initiative process is you have to have a lot of money involved,” Scott Tillman of Put the Citizens in Charge told Gongwer News Service.

The proposal also would allow the signatures of more voters to count on petitions, signatures that otherwise might be eliminated due to trivial errors.

“[Michigan is] the only state I’ve come across, if you accidentally sign twice, they throw both out,” Tillman said of current laws in the Wolverine State.

The proposed initiative amendment would remove the current requirement that only Michigan residents can gather petition signatures.  If it passes, supporters of petitions could recruit out-of-state volunteers to circulate petitions, easing the process and reducing costs.

The initiative would also allow voters to petition any statute, even one containing an appropriation, to a voter referendum and to repeal all of the law except for the appropriation. When the Michigan Legislature passed a right-to-work law in late 2012, a very small appropriation was included in the statute, thus blocking labor groups from petitioning the issue to the ballot.

Citizens in Charge has endorsed this new initiative and is working with the state group.