State ballot proposals

A couple of readers have asked if we are going to write about the State Proposals that are on the general election ballot. My first response was that information is available from other sources, and we should stick to local news, but as I thought more, it really isn’t available.

So, thanks to State Rep. Joel Johnson, I’m providing a description and analysis of the six ballot proposals that you will be able to vote on in early November.

Proposal 1- A referendum on Public Act 4 of 2011- The Emergency Manager Law

Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

• Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.

• Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial

emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.

• Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination

of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of

assets until the emergency is resolved.

• Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved

consent decree.

 

My analysis- This act provides broad powers for the Governor to remove local officials from office and replace them with an Emergency Financial Manager, in an effort to stave off bankruptcy. Emergency Financial Managers have been appointed in Detroit, Flint and some other communities. One of those communities is Hamtramck, where I have had a great deal of experience. In that City the Financial Manager was effective in bringing expenses back in line. A “yes” vote upholds Act 4. A “no” vote would repeal the Act.

 

Proposal 2- A proposal to amend the state constitution regarding collective bargaining

 

This proposal would:

• Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively

through labor unions.

• Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively,

and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support

of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.

• Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws

conflict with collective bargaining agreements.

• Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one or more employees.

 

My analysis- I’m not opposed to unions, but this law would arm them with many new powers, and place them within the constitutional framework, therefore, making it impossible for the legislature or governor to have any control over collective bargaining. I think this is a bad idea and would recommend a “no” vote.

 

Proposal 3- A proposal to amend the state constitution to establish a standard for renewable energy

 

This proposal would:

• Require electric utilities to provide at least 25% of their annual retail sales of electricity from

renewable energy sources, which are wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower, by 2025.

• Limit to not more than 1% per year electric utility rate increases charged to consumers only to

achieve compliance with the renewable energy standard.

• Allow annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25% standard in order to prevent rate increases

over the 1% limit.

• Require the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan made equipment

and employment of Michigan residents.

 

My analysis- In my mind, this is all about energy rates. Some say in the long run the conversion to renewable energy sources will lower our rates. Other say that is poppycock and look out in the short run. The cost of the new investments that will be made, will be passed along to consumers. The counterpoint is the proposal limits increases to 1% per year.

 

Proposal 4- A proposal to amend the state constitution to establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council and provide collective bargaining for in-home care workers

 

This proposal would:

• Allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council

(MQHCC). Continue the current exclusive representative of in-home care workers until modified in

accordance with labor laws.

• Require MQHCC to provide training for in-home care workers, create a registry of workers who pass

background checks, and provide financial services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care.

• Preserve patients’ rights to hire in-home care workers who are not referred from the MQHCC registry

who are bargaining unit members.

• Authorize the MQHCC to set minimum compensation standards and terms and conditions of

employment.

 

My analysis- Another layer of bureaucracy- no way. And to lock it in to the Constitution- double no way. Many of these proposals are asking us to change the Constitution. I just don’t think that is a wise idea. If enacted, this proposal will make home health care even more expensive than it is today.

 

Proposal 5- A proposal to amend the state constitution to limit the enactment of new taxes by state government

 

This proposal would:

• Require a 2/3 majority vote of the State House and the State Senate, or a statewide vote

of the people at a November election, in order for the State of Michigan to impose new or

additional taxes on taxpayers or expand the base of taxation or increasing the rate of taxation.

• This section shall in no way be construed to limit or modify tax limitations otherwise created

in this Constitution.

 

My analysis- On the service, this proposal sounds great. I’m all for the 2/3 majority. We all pay far too much to the state and federal government for taxes. I’m in favor of limiting their ability to increase those taxes. Opponents point out that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and legislators will simply add or expand fees, or find loopholes to get their tax increase.

 

Proposal 6- A proposal to amend the state constitution regarding construction of international bridges and tunnels

 

This proposal would:

• Require the approval of a majority of voters at a statewide election and in each municipality where

“new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located before the State of

Michigan may expend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for,

constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.

• Create a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” that means, “any

bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”

 

My analysis- This proposal was created and for the benefit of one man- Manny Maroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge and several properties around it. Maroun is concerned because a new bridge will impact his bridge financially. The proposed bridge will not utilize any tax money from Michigan. Canada has provided to pay for all construction costs in exchange for getting all toll monies for several years.

 

There you have it. Six proposals (the casino proposal was nixed because supporters failed to get enough good signatures) are requesting your vote. Take my advice, or don’t, but please take the time to study the proposals, and vote yay or nay on November 6.