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A crowded ballot for Michigan voters

February 4, 2008 - Steve Murch
The Associated Press is reporting that six groups submitted forms of their petitions to the Board of State Canvassers to get their proposals on the ballot. Those groups are, according to the AP: • People’s Choice Tax Repeal Committee, which wants to give voters more say in tax issues. • The Stem Cell Research Ballot Question Committee, which wants to loosen current restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan, which now outlaws research on embryos from any source. • The Michigan Fair Tax proposal Committee, which wants to amend the state constitution to eliminate the state income tax and Michigan Business Tax and replace them with a sales tax. • The Committee to Turn Michigan Around, which wants to amend the state constitution to allow only a part-time Legislature, rather than the full-time one the state has now. • The Proportional Senate Committee, which wants to increase the number of state senators from 38 to 50 and have them be elected off candidates lists at large in a statewide election rather than by district. • The Personal Education Account Committee, which wants to require lawmakers to provide every Michigan child aged 4 to 18 with ‘‘funding to support education on a per pupil basis which shall be controlled by the parents or legal guardians of each child respectively.’’

These six join three others that already are in some stage of trying to get their proposal on the ballot and have been approved by the Board of State Canvassers. Those that have done so are: • Health Care for Michigan, which supports a ballot proposal that would require the state Legislature to pass laws to ensure that every Michigan citizen has affordable and comprehensive health care coverage. • Part-Time Legislature Committee, which wants to cut legislators’ salaries in half to $40,000, deduct $400 for each day of work missed and require the Legislature to start working in March and finish by July 1. • Coalition for Compassionate Care, already has submitted an estimated 496,000 signatures to state elections officials to put a proposal on the ballot allowing Michigan to follow the lead of a dozen other states and legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

If all of these issues wind up on the ballot, it looks like Michigan could have nine proposals to decide on. two look to be similar and may wind up trying to combine their efforts. It’s unlikely all nine would wind up on the ballot, but it could make an already interesting election become one that finally draws voters out in droves. With the possibility of a candidate for president being either black, female or Mormon, we are looking at a historic election that should draw voters. Add as many as nine ballot issues and we could be looking at voter turnout that hasn’t been seen in years, if not decades.

If you look at the issues, there are two that want to cut the state legislature and one that wants to add legislators. Three are focusing on health care (that’s what the marijuana folks are claiming, anyway), one that is focusing on education, and two trying to change the taxes climate.

It could make for an interesting 10 months.


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