Michigan’s Ballot Proposals: An Irreverent Progressive Weighs In


I watch TV at the gym sometimes, when I’m gasping for air and dizzy from trying to read Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL while on the treadmill.  TV at the gym has no sound and rarely has closed-captions, so I have to guess at what’s going on.

Based on a couple commercials I caught in which CONCERNED MIDDLE-AGED WHITE COUPLES sat together at a kitchen table and discussed CONCERNING THINGS (sometimes involving ballots), I’m guessing it’s time I looked at Michigan’s ballot proposals.  If you’re not hot for Michigan politics, best just to skip it.

(Note: analysis of ballot proposals may not be impartial, educational, or researched.  No promise of entertainment value is expressed or implied.  Contents may have settled during shipping.  Consult your physician.)

Proposal 12-1: The Emergency Financial Manager Law

Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

  • Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
  • Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
  • Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
  • Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.

Should this law be approved?

As you may or may not recall, one of Gov. Snyder’s first projects was to stick Michigan with his ever-unpopular “Emergency Financial Manager” law, which was meant to bail out some of Michigan’s most bankruptcy-ish communities but which also deprived a whole lot of people of their Constitutional right to a basically (little-r) republican form of government when it granted the state the power to kick out elected local officials and appoint their own people (or corporations! which are people!) to run the joint instead.

Proposal 12-1 is a referendum on that law.  It’s a big fat NO for me, because I think there should be democracy allll up in my Michigan.  Your preferred basic form of government may vary.

Proposal 12-2: Collective Bargaining

This proposal would:

  • Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.
  • Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.
  • Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
  • Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one or more employees.

Should this proposal be approved?


The CONCERNED MIDDLE-AGED WHITE HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE AT THE DINING TABLE that caught my eye in the silent gym-TV ad the other day were DEEPLY CONCERNED about this particular proposal.  Ballotpedia notes that Governor Snyder, among others, is against it; pretty much every union in the state is, unsurprisingly, for it.

Ballotpedia also notes that this amendment would basically prevent Michigan from becoming a “right to work” state, which is very tempting!  Because “right to work” is the most insidious law-name every insidizied!  (That’s a word, right?)

On the other hand, my husband is all “we really need to stop amending our state constitution for every little damn thing,” and as the other half of a CONCERNED NOT-QUITE-MIDDLE-AGED WHITE HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE WHOSE DINING TABLE IS IN STORAGE (the lady half), I should probably be listening to him!

But I think the right to unionize is one of those things that actually should be in the state Constitution.  So I’ll probably be voting YES on this one.

Proposal 12-3: Where Do You Get YOUR Electricity?

This proposal would:

  • Require electric utilities to provide at least 25% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources, which are wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower, by 2025.
  • Limit to not more than 1% per year electric utility rate increases charged to consumers only to achieve compliance with the renewable energy standard.
  • Allow annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25% standard in order to prevent rate increases over the 1% limit.
  • Require the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan made equipment and employment of Michigan residents.

Should this proposal be approved?

I have a proposal: NO MORE MATH IN PROPOSALS.

“Verily, I say to thee, thy one heart pluseth my one heart doth equal…OH REALLY, STEVE, I TOLD YOU I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE.”

Instead of explaining how I’m probably voting on this proposal (because I really have no idea), here’s why I think it’s going to fail:

  1. Math.
  2. Bad storytelling.

Human beings like stories with clearly identified good guys and bad guys, along with clear-cut endings in which the good guys win and the bad guys lose.  Global warming is the antithesis of that story.  We don’t know what a “win” is, and while we’re pretty sure the good guy is us, we’re also pretty sure the bad guy…is also us.

Result: a whole lot of “no” votes, as in “no, I don’t want to admit the bad guy is probably us.”

Proposal 12-4: Proposal 12-2, Basically, But for Home Health Care Workers

This proposal would:

  • Allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council (MQHCC). Continue the current exclusive representative of in-home care workers until modified in accordance with labor laws.
  • Require MQHCC to provide training for in-home care workers, create a registry of workers who pass background checks, and provide financial services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care.
  • Preserve patients’ rights to hire in-home care workers who are not referred from the MQHCC registry who are bargaining unit members.
  • Authorize the MQHCC to set minimum compensation standards and terms and conditions of employment.

Should this proposal be approved?

There are probably some home-health-care-worker specific politics and points that make this amendment a fascinating debate.  I don’t know what they are.  I’m just generally for (a) unions and (b) things that treat home health care workers (as but one example of a vast range of domestic workers) like human beings.  So this is probably a YES for me, unless some CONCERNED DINING ROOM TABLE can give me a good reason otherwise.

Proposal 12-5: No Taxation Without 2/3 Representation (Or Yet Another Trip to the Ballot Box)

This proposal would: Require a 2/3 majority vote of the State House and the State Senate, or a statewide vote of the people at a November election, in order for the State of Michigan to impose new or additional taxes on taxpayers or expand the base of taxation or increasing the rate of taxation.
This section shall in no way be construed to limit or modify tax limitations otherwise created in this Constitution.

Should this proposal be approved?

I feel like we’ve seen this proposal before.  Seriously.  I’m pretty sure I remember my parents voting “no” on it, on the grounds that deciding how to raise taxes and what to do with them once they’re raised is kind of why we have a legislature in the first place.

That said, this proposal is backed by the Michigan Alliance for Prosperity, which is either the BEST NAME EVER or the name of a group of teenage fluffbunnies selling green knitted keychains on eBay.  (“Now with 20% more prosperity incense!”)


This proposal would:

  • Require the approval of a majority of voters at a statewide election and in each municipality where “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located before the State of Michigan may expend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.
  • Create a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” that means, “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”

Should this proposal be approved?

Bridge concern trolls would like you to know this is the ONLY bridge they want to live under, thank you VERY much.

No, it’s not the Mackinac Bridge. (Insert all the “the Upper Peninsula is a foreign country, eh?” jokes here.)

As charmingly neutral as the ballot proposal language is, this fight is all about one bridge: the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario and which carries a metric Canuckton (that’s a standard measure) of imports and exports between the U.S. and its BFF Trading Partner, Canada.

The current bridge is owned and operated by the Detroit International Bridge Co., which is (a) opposed to a new bridge cutting in on their sweet, sweet bridge traffic monopoly deal and (b) pretty much the only driving force behind this proposed constitutional amendment.  The VERY CONCERNED radio ad I got to enjoy today was produced by Concerned Citizens With Bridge-Related Bridging Concerns, whose real name is The People Should Decide.  Which cracks me up, because what if The People Should Decide to pass this amendment, and then vote in favor of a second bridge?  Whooooops your wasted $4,588,552.97!

I’m not waiting around for that, though.  Take your personal sweet-bridge-traffic-monopoly problems and get out of my state constitution, please.


About Verity Reynolds

Verity Reynolds is the author of NANTAIS, an autistic space opera that never uses the word "autism." Buy her a coffee: ko-fi.com/verityreynolds
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One Response to Michigan’s Ballot Proposals: An Irreverent Progressive Weighs In

  1. Recently repatriated back to Michigan after 36 yrs.in California. Gloriously encouraged to discover that like-minded individuals still exist in an otherwise politically depressing state. Committed to acquainting myself with your writings.

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