I’ve allowed a friend of mine to sound off on the upcoming 6 ballot proposals, as his vote is equal to mine, and the proposals are a big reason why we all need to vote on Tuesday. Mr. Chris Motz, a loyal advocate of the State of Michigan, provides his look at the six proposals, and I believe it represents a clearer picture than advertisements you are pummeled with daily.
He drew upon the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a smart crew of intriguing individuals, and was a far better a source of information than the ads that mislead on both sides of the issue.
Motz: ”Prop 1 is a voter referendum regarding the controversial Public Act 4, aka the Emergency Financial Manager law. Hated by unions, deemed as necessary by others, this one isn’t as easy as you’d think. Some municipalities in dire financial straits may need the powers afforded to them by an EFM, however the rights granted to that EFM are fairly extreme for someone who is not elected by the people. My overall judgment says “No,” but read up on this one before deciding. It’s a tricky question.”
Wise and cautious words to start off. One, we need EFMs when a city fails to uphold its own responsibility. Two, the voting rights of a distressed city are in question, no matter the politics. There are outside forces like national/global recessions that can force a city into financial hardship, which means we should not simply remove collective bargaining rights of workers. But each CBA also has to include a clause that kicks in pay cuts or job cuts when a financial emergency is declared.
Of course, we should all remember that PA 72 of 1990 will be reinstated. So the question really becomes a question of whether or not PA 72 of 1990 was effective (or necessary). I prefer an EFM over a bankruptcy, just like homeowners prefer a short sale over foreclosures. I say vote YES.
Motz: ”Prop 2 is the proposal which will enshrine collective bargaining rights, for both public and private employees, into our state constitution. Collective bargaining is a very big part of our state, and a very important part of why some of our families are where they are today. I view collective bargaining as an important part of our rights as workers, as many times it is the only way that a group of workers can stand up and say something to those in charge.
“Prop 2 will not instantly overturn 170 laws, like stated in several commercials. Rather, unions would have to challenge the laws and the courts would decide whether they remain constitutional under the new terms. There is plenty of info out there, but my overall opinion: Vote Yes!”
I disagree here. It’s not a topic about unions or lack of unions, but the establishment of a legal challenge in every labor contract from here to eternity. Rather than establish guidelines for contracts (which is the reason I do support CBAs), it establishes the rights of workers to limit negotiation powers of a public employer. The use of vague legislation then introduces courts into the system that already provides for arbitration and agreements.
My view is that while I would like some form of contract guarantee in legislation, an amendment is not the way to do it. If you vote Yes on Proposal 1, you might consider voting No on Proposal 2, in order to balance the field. I say vote NO.
Motz: ”Prop 3 states that Michigan energy companies will have to produce at least 25% of their energy from renewable resources (wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric) by 2025. It also states that the electric utilities cannot raise rates more than 1% per year in response to compliance and requires the legislature to enact laws encouraging the use of Michigan equipment and residents for the compliance.
“This makes sense, seeing as Michigan is not an energy-resource rich state and we import a significant amount of our resources from out of state, whether it be coal, natural gas or oil. Reducing our dependence on non-local resources while shifting our energy production to renewable resources should be a no brainer.
“The only question is whether this should be an amendment to our constitution, or should our legislature attempt to do something about it (HINT: They won’t.) Overall opinion: Vote Yes!”
This is an interesting one in terms of politics and the belief in energy manufacturing. The State of Michigan produces a variety of power, but not anywhere in the range to produce more manufacturing without a new resource to use. Cost-wise, we’ll be putting direct pressure upon energy companies to produce a renewable infrastructure, but there is a big caveat. In the current wording, there is no real definition of the word “produce.” We could just buy it somewhere else.
And without a mandate of the Legislature to force Michigan utilities to produce that energy at home, we’ll just create a power market and some intra-state quibbles, since our Energy Regulatory Commission grids are regional. Power companies also retrieve power from other states in times of peak use; this would limit the flexibility of power companies to handle outages and related repair. I say Vote NO.
Motz: ”Prop 4 is regarding in-home care workers’ ability to organize and bargain collectively. It also puts into place a new council (Michigan Quality Home Care Council) that would be in charge of many of the functions that are divided up into a bunch of other places at the moment. More info in my Citizens Research Council of Michigan link. The issue is more complicated than it looks on the surface, but the benefits for those using home health care aides are pretty large. My overall opinion: Vote Yes!”
For me, I don’t like the use or definition of a private workforce unionized without consent of the actual participants, or the application of a single union as the primary bargaining entity. I think home care workers provide amazing care, and we should deliver better options for their efforts. But in terms of Medicare-funded work, the last thing we need is more pressure on costs to deliver services, or the inclusion of a union into federal monies.
Also read closer the changes this amendment will make to other unrelated offices, including establishing a council by forcing a legal declaration of political affiliation. And since we’re dealing with an amendment, I would vote a big “NO” just on that invasive demand.
Motz: ”Prop 5 states that any time that the state wishes to “impose new or additional taxes on taxpayers or expand the base of taxation or increase the rate of taxation,” there must be either a 2/3 majority vote of the State House and Senate, or a statewide vote during the next November election. This piece of legislature has popped up in multiple states across the U.S. in the past decade or two, and it’s never worked well.
“Tying the hands of state government when it comes to being able to change tax rates in response to budget woes never works out well. A good example to look at would be California, where they can’t get any tax increases passed and the state isn’t doing so hot budget wise. Plus, when was the last time 2/3 of a few hundred people, let alone 9.8 million people, were able to agree on ANYTHING? Yeah, never. Overall opinion: Vote NO!”
I agree we should vote against this proposal. But I have a couple of different reasons. The first is that we would require only a majority of voters to pass this amendment without an established quorum, but then demand 2/3 for actual action once it is passed? It’s akin to the use of a Senate majority vote to remove the filibuster power from the U.S. Senate. And when 13 people out of 38 decide to block any tax increase, it’s not always a good thing. Sure, you might buy the mantra of no taxes ever, but this amendment says 13 state senators can run the purse-strings of the state, and it establishes a default veto of any tax increase. That’s not freedom, it’s knee-capping government with an iron bar.
If the Legislature wants to vote for a tax increase, we elect them to do it (or not). Placing a permanent 13-member block on all tax increases sounds great at first, but it sets a precedent to justify another amendment like this for something you don’t like, and can’t get rid of, because of the notion of a 2/3 majority. This is a slippery slope. I say vote NO.
Motz: ”Prop 6 states that we need to vote any time the state wants to build a new international crossing. Or anytime we need to build a bridge. Or crossing. We’re not 100% sure, since the wording on the intitiative is kind of terrible. You’ve heard me yap about this one non-stop. This is basically Matty Moroun trying to continue his monopoly on the busiest North American international border crossing. One that his trucking empire directly benefits from.
“This entire proposal stinks of corporate money forcing whatever politics it wants down our throats. Matty and the DIBC have spent more money trying to get this passed than anyone has ever spent on any other proposal ever (see: here). I have at least a dozen more links of Matty Moroun/DIBC hijinks that involve them lying or just being shady to retain control of the border crossing. Overall opinion: VOTE NO IF IT IS THE ONLY THING YOU DO.”
In short, Motz isn’t a fan of Matty. And there’s no doubt that voters should have a choice in determining expenditures, and costs to the state taxpayer will occur. And while there will be expected operational costs, the revenue from traffic will end up balancing the expenditures. What the proponents of this plan suggest in ads is that the cost will be monstrous, and it may well be monstrous … for Canadians. After all, the Canadians are the ones who don’t want the Ambassador Bridge dropping trucks on their neighborhoods in Windsor, and instead want to pay on their side for a better access line off an expressway.
The biggest issue for lots of good tea party folk is that that the new bridge is redistributing traffic from one bridge to another. That is a valid concern, as Matty still owns the bridge, and that’s a core component of the American dream. But it’s also a question of eminent domain, as the amendment requires a municipality to approve its own demolition, which will technically never happen in real life.
For example, Delray is a former incorporated municipality with a population of 2,738. There’s no legal argument under the terms of the amendment for Delray residents, because there is no town. Delray is not a municipality, it’s a tract of hardy residents left over from the irony of this entire debate. And folks who support Delray and its history should realize the real reason for the decline of the southeast riverbank was through industrial expansion from trade.
Delray was ghosted because the Ambassador Bridge was successful, and the incoming industry and demand for manufacturing and trade destroyed the community. I say vote YES, because we need a big debate on expenditures. I would say the same for Proposal 5, but in my view, taxes aren’t the problem, and we can find better ways of addressing tax legislation.
So here are the six proposals to think about when you go vote on Tuesday. Big thanks to Chris Motz for putting his voice on the record, and reflecting issues that I think many voters are still wrestling with.