Bill Lucas, of Ferndale, Michigan, is set to lead an initiative effort to amend the Wolverine State’s constitution to guarantee citizens full use of their referendum power in repealing any state law, including those that include appropriations.

Currently under the Michigan constitution, laws that include an appropriation are exempt from referendum. Last December, state lawmakers  attached an appropriation to passage of Right-to-Work legislation, thus denying union opponents the ability to take the legislation to a statewide vote of the people.

A Ferndale man says he will lead an effort to amend the state’s constitution to strengthen the ability of citizens to use the ballot to repeal objectionable laws.

Bill Lucas, founder of Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum, said his proposed change would allow Michigan voters to use a referendum to repeal any state law, even one with an appropriation attached.

The Board of State Canvassers is to consider the group’s proposed ballot petition at a meeting in Lansing Friday.

Read more at the: Detroit Free Press

Michigan’s Legislature enacted “Right-to-Work” legislation this week, sparking renewed debate about public policy regarding unions. Here’s a quick review of recent ballot measures having to do with organized labor.


Ohio “State Senate Bill 5” Veto Referendum, Issue 2 (2011)

The controversial Right-to-Work bills that today passed the Michigan Legislature cannot be put to a voter referendum or “people’s veto,” because legislators added a $1 million appropriation to the bills. Under Michigan law, appropriation bills are not subject to the citizens’ referendum powers. The appropriation goes to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for implementing the legislation and dissemination of information regarding the bills.

Last week, a Michigan House panel passed a package of five bills to restrict future recalls of elected officials by citizens. One bill would allow recalls only in either May or November (HB 6061) and another (HB 6063) prevents recalls from being initiated in the six months after the beginning of or prior to the end of an elected official's term. That latter bill “makes it nearly impossible to recall for a two-year term,” observed Rep. Barb Byrum.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled this morning that a judge ruled incorrectly when he upheld the Detroit Election Commission’s decision to block a 2010 ballot measure.
The ballot measure would have allowed voters to decide on reducing penalties for people 21 or older who possessed less than an ounce of marijuana on private property in Detroit.

Read more at Michigan Radio.

This November Michigan voters may get a chance to put Michigan among the forefront of states in renewable energy usage, pending a petition that would put the initiative on the 2012 ballot. The proposed ballot initiative would require that 25% of Michigan’s energy utilities come from renewable energy sources by 2025, a significant increase from the 4% that currently comes from renewable energy. By putting the initiative directly on the November ballot, the Michigan Jobs & Energy Coalition (which filed the proposed language change) would supersede the Michigan Legislature and put the power directly in the hands of voters.

Yesterday’s Common Sense article from Paul Jacob touches on the Michigan recall controversy:

The state constitution of Michigan grants citizens the right to recall their elected officials, but that right may face a challenge from the state legislature:

SagatuckA a letter from the Michigan ACLU reminded officials in Sagatuck this week that public streets are a public forum where restrictions on free speech are prohibited. The letter comes after two people collecting signatures to recall Gov. Rick Snyder were allegedly told they could not approach or speak to pedestrians on a public sidewalk:

To tell petitioners that they may not speak to pedestrians in Saugatuck is not only incorrect and unconstitutional, it sends a confusing message to residents about their rights.

The powers that be at the Genesee County Parks Department don’t seem to be familiar with the freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. Fortunately for Michiganders, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is.

As with everyone, politicians and government officials like to get their way, and most of them don’t appreciate it when citizens take charge with popular initiative, referendum and recall petition campaigns. Michigan’s constitution recognizes the right of the people to exercise these forms of direct democracy, but that doesn’t prevent elected and appointed officials here from trying to restrict this right.

Read the story from the Mackinac Center

A group of Emmet County organizations and community leaders are gaining support for a public initiative to put the creation of an Emmet County public transit system on the ballot for 2011. Friends Enhancing Emmet Transit, an offshoot of Emmet 20/20 and the Charlevoix Emmet Human Services coordinating body transportation work group, submitted a petition with 1,290 signatures Tuesday afternoon to the Emmet County Board of Commissioners calling for the county to allow voters to decide whether they would financially support a bus system. Of the signatures, 1,152 signatures were from Emmet County residents.

Read the story from Petosky News

Last week Citizens in Charge Foundation - a partner organization to Citizens in Charge - sent a letter to Secretaries of State and Attorneys General in 12 states asking them to stop enforcing unconstitutional restrictions on ballot initiative rights. In light of recent legal action in which Kansas officials agreed with petition advocates that the state’s law against petition circulators from other states was unconstitutional, Foundation President Paul Jacob asked officials to “do the right thing” and stop enforcing similar

A Marijuana initiative will likely be on Kalamazoo’s Ballot in November. It wouldn’t be the legalization of Marijuana, but a group has submitted petitions to ask voters to change the city Charter to make investigations of the use or possession of less than an ounce of marijuana the Public Safety Department’s “Lowest Priority”. It would still be a crime to drive under the influence, or smoke dope in public, or to deal or possess in larger amounts.