List of Ballot Initiatives Longest Since '78
Published March 3, 2006. By Chris
Andrews. Lansing State Journal.
These issues already are slated to be on the ballot:
· A constitutional amendment
to create the Conservation and Recreation Legacy Fund, the Game
and Fish Protection Trust Fund and the Nongame Fish and Wildlife
Possible ballot issues
Here are proposals that could make it on the ballot:
· A group supporting guaranteed
state funding for public schools and universities has turned
in its petitions.
Source: LSJ research
List of ballot initiatives could be longest since '78
Abortion. Dove hunts. Minimum wage. Voters may face plenty of decisions
Michigan voters will have plenty to chew on when they go to the polls in November.
Groups have gathered or are gathering signatures pointing toward the longest list of ballot initiatives since 1978, when voters weighed in on a record 11 proposals.
At stake are:
The lives of mourning doves.
The wages of workers.
The taxes of businesses.
The futures of students applying for college.
The rights of women to have abortions. And fetuses to be born.
And on and on.
"Voters are going to have to do a lot more homework," veteran political analyst Craig Ruff said Thursday. "They're going to need an awful lot of tutoring to make their way through what will be a bedsheet ballot."
The length of the bedsheet won't become clear until sometime this summer when groups have turned in signatures and elections officials have scrutinized them. Four measures are on the ballot already, with several others in various stages of the process.
And some will be affected by actions in the Legislature.
Minimum wage issue
On Thursday, Carrie Guzman stood outside at the Logan Square shopping center gathering signatures for a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.85 next January, with inflationary increases after that.
Seventy to 80 percent of the people she asks are willing to sign, said Guzman, an organizer for the community group Michigan ACORN. Susie Love of Lansing was among them, leaning on her grocery cart to offer her signature. "It's really hard to raise your family on minimum wage if you have children," said Love, 52.
As Guzman collected signatures, the GOP-controlled state Senate voted in a surprise move to raise the minimum wage to $6.95 an hour next October and to $7.40 by July 2008.
The move is widely viewed as an effort to head off the petition initiative, which carves the inflationary adjustments into constitutional stone.
Meanwhile, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson was at the Capitol on Thursday urging lawmakers to eliminate the Single Business Tax and eliminate the need for the petition drive he is leading. Patterson said he will forgo his effort if lawmakers pass the measure and Gov. Jennifer Granholm signs it. But Granholm spokesman Liz Boyd said Granholm won't do that unless there is replacement revenue. That's not part of Patterson's plan.
A definite factor
Ballot initiatives often affect voter turnout, and as such can affect the outcome of other races, including Granholm's bid for re-election.
"Some people don't believe their vote counts when they vote for candidates," said Dane Waters, chairman of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. "If you have people who are adamantly for an issue or adamantly against an issue, they will come out and vote."
Lansing pollster Ed Sarpolus said Democratic turnout will get a boost from the minimum wage proposal and from minority voters opposing the proposed ban on affirmative action at public institutions.
But Waters said the affirmative action measure, similar to one passed in California, could boost turnout among conservatives as well. <>He also said a longer ballot can make it harder for specific proposals to pass. "The bottom line is, the voters will focus on those issues that they care the most about," Waters said. "Those issues that they have not educated themselves on will typically fail because voters take the cautious route and vote no." <>
Ruff, who has been analyzing Michigan politics since the 1970s, said he's not surprised that interest groups are increasingly taking to the streets to advance agendas through ballot initiatives. "The interests find they can lock into the Constitution things that they want. It's like having a constitutional convention every two years, but with only the interests' desires at heart," he said.
- Songbird Protection Coalition