By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING (AP) – Foes of a plan to allow wolf hunting in Michigan have raised the most among groups backing four statewide ballot drives.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a ballot committee, reported by Thursday’s deadline that it had taken in nearly $568,000 in 2013, much of it from national animal rights organizations.
The wolf group is by far the best-funded of four groups with ballot drives. It already has collected enough signatures for a November 2014 referendum on a law designating the wolf as a game species and authorizing hunts.
Activists are preparing to gather signatures for a second wolf-related ballot initiative after lawmakers moved to make the referendum’s outcome meaningless by passing another law. Top donors included the Doris Day Animal League, which has given $200,000, along with the Humane Society of the United States – which kicked in $155,000 and an additional $180,000 worth of in-kind help with consultants, staff salaries and other aid.
A group trying to ban health plans from covering abortions without a supplemental policy raised $24,000 through Saturday. No Taxes for Insurance Coverage won’t need much money, though, because organizer Right to Life of Michigan typically doesn’t have to pay for signature-gathering thanks to a base of volunteers and supporters in churches.
The ballot group also reported roughly $46,000 in in-kind contributions from Right to Life.
If 258,000 valid signatures are collected, the Republican-controlled Legislature will have 40 days to pass or reject the abortion legislation. It’s a way to bypass Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican who vetoed a similar bill last year because of concerns it intruded into the private market and included no exceptions for rape and incest.
The abortion measure would go to voters in 2014 if lawmakers don’t act.
Activists behind two other ballot initiatives haven’t raised much money, either.
The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, which is targeting a technique used by the energy industry to extract oil and gas, raised nearly $17,000 in the most recent reporting period.
Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum didn’t file a report Thursday but had raised less than $1,000 through mid-April. The proposal would let Michigan voters repeal laws made referendum-proof with appropriations.
Michigan currently doesn’t permit referendum drives if a law includes an appropriation, or spending measure. Lawmakers have added appropriations to controversial legislation, such as the right-to-work and revised emergency manager laws approved in December.
Nearly 323,000 valid signatures are needed to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot.