Ballot proposal results could alter Michigan Constitution

Collective-bargaining rights tops list

LANSING, Mich. — Michiganders on Tuesday will decide the fate of six ballot proposals, five of which could alter the state’s constitution.

The measure that has gotten the most exposure, including plenty of national attention from labor groups, is Proposal 2, a measure that would enshrine collective bargaining rights into state law and ban the state from enacting right-to-work laws.

The proposal has prompted not only Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, to speak out, but also has angered business people, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Association of Michigan. They argue it will stymie any economic progress that the state has made including lowering unemployment to the lowest rate in four years. It is supported by union proponents whose benefits and wage agreements have been under fire amid economic woes felt in many municipalities.

“This is probably the worst of the bunch in terms of real impact on our state,” said Rob Fowler, CEO and president of the SBA at a speech Friday before the Midland Chamber of Commerce, urging voters to vote no on Proposal 2.

Environmental supporters have lobbied hard in support of Proposal 3, which would require electric utilities, by 2025, to generate at least 25 percent of retails sales of electricity from renewable sources — solar, wind, biomass and hydropower. While opponents have argued that it will drive up utility bills, the ballot would limit rate increases to no more than 1 percent a year.

The fight for Proposal 3 has been led by the group Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs. “Using more wind and solar energy will reduce pollution and give Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water, protect the Great Lakes, reduce asthma and lung disease, and ultimately, save lives,” the group claims in a statement. Opponents of the measure say it will burden state consumers and “is a dishonest attempt by investors to cash in on the energy market through our constitution.”

The most expensive ballot initiative is Proposal 6, amending the Michigan Constitution to require voter approval for any new international bridges or tunnels for motorists. It largely has been supported by Detroit-area billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun, owner of the Detroit-Canada Ambassador Bridge, who is angered by the state’s efforts to build its own public span along with the Canadian government, which is assisting with funding. Mr. Moroun has spent a record $31 million to force the bridge referendum, including an onslaught of television ads running all over the state.

Proposal 6 is opposed not only by the governor, but also Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who told the website Mlive, com: “The proposal is really nothing more than a delay tactic and effort by one special interest to abuse our constitution to provide protection for his monopoly.”

Other Michigan ballot issues include:

Proposal 1, a measure protecting the state’s emergency financial manager law, which allows the state to step in and appoint a manager for failing municipalities as well as school districts that cannot manage their fiscal interests. Appointed emergency managers may void existing contracts and remove elected leaders in an effort to make financial progress.

Proposal 4, a measure allowing collection of union dues from about 42,000 home health workers.

Proposal 5, a measure requiring a two-thirds vote of the state legislature or a statewide vote of Michiganders to raise any new taxes.

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