Voters face six ballot measures

Everybody has seen them. Election Day comes around, and yard after yard springs political signs like dandelions.

Plenty of voters know about the big candidates. President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney’s ongoing race for the White House is a fine example.

When it comes to ballot proposals, however, many feel left in the dark.

The Citizen’s Research Center of Michigan, a privately funded, non-profit organization, has made available explanations for each issue.

In Michigan, there are six ballot proposals for the 2012 voting cycle.

Proposal 1
Passing this referendum for the emergency manager law authorizes the state to evaluate the finances of local governments.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder would, upon designation of a financial emergency, be permitted to appoint an emergency manager to act in place of elected officials.

Emergency managers would have authority, both financially and non-financially, over elected officials.

Those in favor believe letting the governor appoint emergency managers is an easy way to balance budgets.

Because Governor Snyder in particular was a businessman before being elected to gubernatorial office, some argue his appointments would provide a viable bridge toward fiscal stability throughout Michigan.

Some opponents of the proposal view it as an undermining of democracy, where Michigan’s governor
could arbitrarily replace elected officials with whomever he chooses.

Proposal 2
A successful Yes on 2 would amend the State constitution, giving both public and private employees the right to collective bargaining.

Passing this proposal would override laws throughout Michigan which limit the ability to unionize, although laws could still be enacted to keep public employees from the picket line.

Those in favor of Proposal 2 see it as a step toward better pay and benefits for employees, such as safer working conditions and the ability to earn vacation time.

The right to collective bargaining, they believe, would encourage bottom-up economics and help Michigan’s middle class thrive.

Opponents say passing such an amendment would isolate Michigan as the only state with collective bargaining rights mandated in its constitution.

Additionally, they may reject the measure for lack of belief in unionization. To them, collective bargaining is a negative because it can be disabling to job creators.

Proposal 3
Under this constitutional amendment, electric utilities would have to generate at least one quarter of their energy using renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2025.

The same companies would only be allowed to increase the rates they charge to customers by 1 percent or less per year.

Michigan legislature would hold the power to pass laws encouraging Michigan-made equipment and labor.

This measure appeals to those in favor of the move to renewable energies.

In addition to participating in the green initiative, the proposal could add as many as 94,000 jobs to the Michigan economy. 

Michigan is already supposed to have 10 percent of its energy coming from clean sources by 2015 as a result of the Clean Act in 2008.

This reason drives opponents to see Proposal 3 as the wrong path toward cleaner energy. For them, the mandate would be a superfluous addition to what’s already in the works, and could force energy companies to charge more on consumers’ energy bills.

Proposal 4
Like Proposals 2 and 3, Proposal 4 involved an amendment to the State constitution.

If passed, in-home care workers could use collective bargaining with a newly established Michigan Quality Home Care Council.

The MQHCC would be required to provide training, implement background checks and a registry, as well as provide financial services to patients to manage costs of the care. It would also be authorized to set standards for wages and working conditions.

Patients’ rights to hire in-home care workers not from the new registry would be preserved.

Those in favor of the amendment cite the preservation of patient rights while including the capacity to improve working conditions.

Voices against the amendment say they don’t trust the language.

Home-based care workers would be forced to join a government-based union, some argue, leaving them locked in to pay union dues without voters also locking in any new services or cost savings.

Proposal 5
Proposal 5 involves taxes.

If passed, it would require one of two conditions to be met before taxes can be raised.

Either a two-thirds majority of both State legislatures or a statewide vote by the people would be required for the state to impose new taxes, increase taxes, or expand the tax base.

Opponents, including Gov. Snyder, say that changing Michigan’s constitution with this so-called twothirds amendment would allow as few as 13 senators to block tax legislation.

Proposal 5 supporters argue that it forces leaders to achieve true bipartisan consensus before raising taxes.

Proposal 6
Proposal 6 would require a majority of local voters to give the go-ahead before the State of Michigan moves to spend money or resources on new international bridges or tunnels.

The proposal is backed by the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, currently the only bridge to Canada from Detroit. He financed the effort to put the proposal on the ballot, and is spending millions of his own dollars to publicize the proposal. Opponents of Proposal 6 want a new Detroit- Windsor bridge constructed, to help relieve traffic and improve trade with Canada.

Earlier this year, Gov. Snyder made a deal with Canada to finance a new bridge, with Canada paying for the project and being repaid over 20 years from tolls.

If Proposal 6 passes, it could stop or at least delay the new bridge for several years as the issue is fought in the courts.

Supporters of the proposal have spent millions on ads claiming that the bridge will eventually cost Michigan taxpayers. The Michigan Truth Squad, an independent fact-checking group, has called the ads flagrantly false.

Voters looking for further information from the Citizen’s Research Center of Michigan can find it at election.crcmich.org.