Michigan Legislature Can’t Win, Changes Rules

MichiganLegislature

If you’re hoping to vote on marijuana legalization or a ban on fracking, the Michigan Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder don’t trust your judgement.

That’s right.

I normally don’t cite The Detroit News editorial staff on this blog, but they seem to be on the right page regarding the Legislature’s latest despicable act:

The Michigan House and the Senate recently rammed through legislation to immediately upend a 30-year-old understanding of Michigan’s ballot petition process, despite the fact that signatures are already being collected on a number of petitions.

The move deliberately threw a wrench into two citizen-led initiatives currently gaining traction for this November’s ballot: One to ban hydraulic fracturing (known as fracking) for oil and gas, and another to legalize recreational marijuana.

Neither issue is one the Republican-controlled Legislature, generally speaking, would like to see prevail. But instead of debating the issues on their merits or allowing the people of Michigan to decide, lawmakers are rewriting the rules to frustrate the citizen initiative process and render both issues dead on arrival.

How are the Republicans trying to kill these particular (and future) citizen-driven ballot initiatives? By tossing-out “a practice in place since 1986 that allows signatures older than 180 days to be considered valid if shown by a local clerk that they are from registered voters.”

Opponents of the voter ballot drives hope that a strict 180 day signature drive will not only make the process harder, but will dissuade future drives from ever getting off the ground!

And the legislation will affect the current anti-fracking and pro-marijuana legalization initiatives! Older signatures outside the 180 day sign-up period will be deemed null-and-void.

The Detroit News has more:

Obviously Michigan’s energy industry saw an opportunity to block a potential fracking ban. And it isn’t wrong on the policy of fracking. Most evidence finds fracking has been done safely in Michigan for decades. It makes natural gas more affordable for Michigan residents, and is critical for a state so reliant on manufacturing jobs.

But that is a fight on the substance, and this is a change made by pulling strings.

The oil and gas industry has significant clout with this legislature, and if that means the state loses-out on a possible $130 million windfall from future taxes on marijuana, so be it. The energy sector has…ahem!…persuaded lawmakers to see the world their way. The average citizen needs better lobbyists in order to have their voice heard.

It’s not the first time the Legislature has used government to compromise the power given to citizens. If you recall, the legislature and Governor Snyder voted to end straight-party ticket voting. Doing whatever it takes to slow voting lines is freedom, apparently.

I suppose we shouldn’t be in complete disbelief. Recall, Michigan has been declared the worst state in terms of transparency.

When just over 40% of eligible voters participate in state elections, we deserve the government we get.

pat@wsgw.com

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