- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Legislature agreed Thursday to schedule the state’s 2016 presidential primary for March 8, an earlier-than-expected date that would require Republicans to divvy up convention delegates proportionately rather than winner-take-all.

Although the state had appeared set to hold the primary on March 15, the Senate agreed Thursday to a House change that would move it up a week. March 15 is also when residents appeal their property tax assessments, so some township officials expressed concerns logistical problems might arise if the primary were held then, House Elections Committee Chairwoman Lisa Posthumus Lyons said.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to quickly sign the plan into law.

March 15 is the first date under Republican National Committee rules that a winner-take-all primary can be held. A candidate could only receive all of the state’s delegates if they received more than 50 percent of the vote, under rules approved by the state Republican Party.

In a March 8 primary, three delegates would be awarded to the Republican winner of each of 14 congressional districts. The remaining delegates would be split proportionally to match the statewide vote, though a candidate without at least 15 percent of the vote would be given no at-large delegates.

Democrats have not decided whether to participate in a primary or hold caucuses.

The two bills establishing the primary date had already made their way through the Senate and House processes before being changed Wednesday at the last step toward approval.

Senate Elections Committee Chairman David Robertson, the sponsor of the legislation, expressed frustration with the late change caused by some townships’ concerns.

“I would strongly encourage them in their future activity before my committee to come forward before the bill comes out of committee and make their position known then. That is not good form on their part,” the Grand Blanc Republican said.

Robertson preferred the March 15 date that had been endorsed by the state GOP. He said he reluctantly agreed to back the new date after talking with members in the House who convinced him the change was “necessary in order to secure passage.”

He added he felt it was important to “get this matter taken care of as promptly as possible.”

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