Reporting Charlie Langton
DETROIT (CBS Detroit/AP) After a Ping-Pong match worthy of the Olympics, the Michigan Supreme Court issued orders to place three constitutional amendments on the November ballot, including the protection of collective bargaining, a two-thirds vote of the legislature for tax increases and a second Canadian bridge crossing.
The vote will come November 6.
WWJ legal analyst and Talk Radio 1270 host Charlie Langton explained the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying justices believed people who signed the petitions in support of the three issues knew what they were doing when they called for the vote.
“When enough petition signatures are gathered, that issue should go on the ballot, it’s only in those rare circumstances where what was circulated was inaccurate, where the voters shouldn’t decide,” Langton said. “Here, what the Supreme Court decided was that the people who signed the petition knew what they were signing.”
But the fourth question — whether the state should add up to eight new Michigan casinos — will not go before voters, Langton said.
“The court believed the people didn’t understand the full extent of what they were signing,” Langton said. “And (they believed) that too many laws would have been affected by that petition and all those things weren’t told to the people who signed the petition.
“The bottom line is the people who signed the petition on the casino didn’t know what it really meant, the court ruled, and the people who signed the other petitions did – bottom line, you’ve gotta be accurate when you ask people to sign a petition.”
The proposed constitutional amendments ended up as an appeal at the state Supreme Court, after they first appeared to be paving the way for it and then Republicans on the Board of State Canvassers managed to block them.
- Get more information on the court’s opinion in this document (.pdf format) prepared by the Reporter of Decisions -
Owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who say they would suffer a competitive disadvantage if the new bridge were built, have sponsored a statewide television ad blitz against it.
Mickey Blashfield, spokesman for a group called The People Should Decide that sponsored the initiative, said the court’s decision was “a victory for the more than 600,000 voters who signed our petition and for all Michiganders who want a say in how public money is spent on international crossings.”
A group called Protect Our Jobs has championed the measure that would guarantee collective bargaining rights.
“Corporate special interests have spent millions and will spend millions more to mislead voters and silence our voice to negotiate for fair wages, benefits and working conditions that benefit us all,” Cheryl Weston, a nurse at McLaren Lapeer Region Medical Center, said in a statement issued by the group.
Snyder and state Attorney General Bill Schuette fought the measure, joining a pro-business coalition called Hands Off Our Constitution in contending its wording was too broad.
“Michigan’s citizens have a clear choice this November between protecting our state’s constitution and economic future or returning to the failed policies of the past by handing control of the state and perhaps billions of state and local tax dollars to a handful of union bosses,” said Stu Sandler, a spokesman for the group.
The initiatives approved Wednesday will join several other proposals on the packed general election ballot. They would order utilities to generate 25 percent of Michigan’s electric power from renewable sources by 2025; repeal a law allowing appointment of emergency managers in financially struggling cities; and create a regulatory structure for home health care workers.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder weighed in on the casinos issue after the state Board of Canvassers rejected the proposal.
“It’s unfortunate, all this litigation and arguing over these ballot proposals,” Snyder added. “I hope our citizens really look at these proposals carefully. Changing the constitution is a major issue and most of these proposals I believe are not appropriate to be changes to the constitution.”
The state Board of Canvassers meets Friday to finalize the ballot, but Langton said the decision is locked up by the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I believe this is the final say, I do,” Langton said. “This is it, it’s gotta be done.”
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