Emergency Manager Law — April 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

BREAKING: Sufficient signatures validated to put Michigan Emergency Manager law on ballot – and on HOLD! — UPDATED



I’m going to let the Stand Up for Democracy press release speak for itself:

Citizens in the Stand Up for Democracy Coalition are announcing they have received notice from the Secretary of the Board of State Canvassers reporting the group has collected 203,238 valid voter signatures needed to place the repeal of Public Act 4 (aka the Emergency Manager Law) on the November 2012 general election ballot. According to the report, the group exceeded the 161,305 valid signatures needed by more than 40,000.

“This is an important step in the effort to stand up for democracy in Michigan,” said Herb Sanders, director of the coalition. “This report clearly shows that people across the state want the opportunity to vote to repeal the emergency manager dictator law. Now it is up to the State Board of Canvassers to honor the democratic process and let the people vote.”

On Thursday, April 26, 2012 the members of the State Board of Canvassers will meet in Lansing to decide if the petition will be placed on the November general election ballot. They will also have the opportunity to review a memo from the Secretary of the Board of State Canvassers that dismisses the challenges of a republican group seeking to prevent voters from deciding the fate of PA 4.

The report says, “The Board’s authority and duties with regard to proposed constitutional amendments are limited to determining whether the form of the petition substantially complies with the statutory requirements and whether there are sufficient signatures to warrant certification of the proposal.” One challenge to the font size of the heading in the petition is strong evidence of substantial compliance. And the signatures have been validated. The repeal question should move forward.

“We urge the Board of Canvassers to do the right thing and vote for certification of the 200,000 plus signatures,” says Brandon Jessup, Chairman of Michigan Forward and Stand Up for Democracy coalition member. “The truth is in the petitions. We can’t let bogus, partisan attacks usurp the will of the people. We are simply asking them to follow the law.”

Another coalition partner agrees, “People from every county in the state have volunteered their time and talent to collect these signatures,” said Al Garrett, President of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, one of the partners in the coalition. “We hope the board of canvassers will honor their sacrifice, follow the law as reported by their staff and allow the petition to be placed on the ballot.”

For more information go to www.standup4democracy.com or call 1-866-306-5168 to volunteer.

A hearty and heartfelt congratulations to Michigan Forward, the Stand Up for Democracy coalition and to all of the hard-working volunteers who made this happen. This is an incredible victory.

UPDATE: You can look at the Board of State Canvassers final staff review HERE (pdf).

There’s some new information in there. It appears that the challenge to the petitions by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility actually challenged the petitions on four additional points beyond just the font size:

  1. The type size of the petition heading, REFERENDUM OF LEGISLATION PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION purportedly does not comply with the requirement of MCL 168.482(1) that it be “printed in capital letters in 14-point boldfaced type [.]”
  2. The summary that appears on the signature side of the petition form is, in their view, “incomplete and misleading.”
  3. The petition omits the prior law, 1990 PA 72, which will be revived if 2011 PA 4 is suspended.
  4. The petition omits the effective date of 2011 PA 4.
  5. The petition omits 2011 PA 9, which was tie-barred to 2011 PA4.

The report says that it’s appropriate for the Board to look at the font issue because it’s part of the technical requirements of the petitions. However, they are being advised NOT to review the other four:

Challenges to summary and omission of prior law, effective date, and tie-barred legislation. However, CFR’s other challenges to the petition form (Items 2 – 5 above) appear to relate to the substance of the proposal’s summary, the substance of the proposal itself, and the manner in which the language is affixed to the petition. When approving a petition as to form, the Board explicitly states that its approval does not extend to any of these subjects. In addition, and in contrast to the type size requirement of MCL 168.482(1), there is no statute that governs the content of the summary, nor is there a statutory duty imposed on the petition sponsors to include a reference to the prior law, actual effective date, or tie-barred legislation. Accordingly, it is not clear that the Board possesses the authority to consider whether the summary is adequate or whether the omission of the prior law, effective date, and tie-barred legislation constitute fatal defects to the form of this petition.

Recommendation. The Board may entertain a challenge to the type size of the petition heading, but should reject the remaining challenges as exceeding the scope of its authority.

They’ll have to take them to court on those, it would appear. I predict they will. I suspect they have enough money backing them and have a keen desire to make the supporters of the repeal effort spend as much money as possible defending their petitions so that they don’t have it available to advocate for it.

The question then becomes (a) will some group like Sugar Law Center or others defend them pro bono and/or (b) will a benefactor come forward to help pay for their defense and also for the campaign ahead.

This story is not over by a long shot and I feel certain there will be lawsuits forthcoming.

Stay tuned.

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  • Guest

    Great news!  Although I live in Northern California, I’ve been trying to follow and understand what’s happening by reading your blog (which has been great).  Now that this will be put on the ballot and is on hold, what happens in the places where an Emergency Manager is already in place?

    •  Well, I would assume they’d be taken out and the elected officials put back into position, but I’m not absolutely sure.

    • Well, that’s an unanswered question. If you ask the folks from Stand Up for Democracy, they’ll tell you that, since PA 4 rescinded PA 72 and PA 4 is no longer in effect, there IS no Emergency Manager law. That would mean all the EMs would be without a job.

      However, our state Attorney General, a hard-right, tea party Republican, says that PA 72 goes back into effect. This would have effect of keeping the EMs in place but with the more limited powers they had on PA 72.

      Short take: this will go to court and it will be long and drug out. I’ll have plenty to write about over the next seven months on this topic to be sure. Good fodder for the book I’m writing, I’m afraid.

      • CB_Demented

         Your AG is probably right, regardless of his politics. Usually if a law is put in place as an update to an older law, and the new law is struck down, unless the court specifically strikes down the whole thing, you revert back to the prior law.

        I would assume that would be the case in a situation like this as well. In this case, at least from the wording, it looks like they’re just putting a pause on the revision, so you’ll have to wait until you get a proper court ruling to find out for sure.

    • saynotohate

      Local residents and their elected officials will go back to solving local problems on a local level. Who do you trust more to understand your issues, work with you to find solutions and care about the long term prosperity of your community? The guy who lives and works there too, or the guy who has no ties to or experience in your city? I will take my friends or neighbors over the control freaks in Lansing any day of the week thanks. America’s government is one which is meant to be of the people, for the people and by the people, I believe strongly that if the people of this state could work together to take on EM and win, they have all of the intelligence and capability they need to work together to find good solutions to the financial problems they are facing.

  • This is such great news!

  • saynotohate

    This is the best news we can get today, for all of Michigan and all of America. As a Michigan resident I want to say thank you to everyone who gave their time and energy to make this happen. This law is totally wrong and it needs to go.

  • rikyrah

    thank you keeping us informed.

  •  Republicans are wolves in wolves clothing, they dont even try to pretend their honest!

  • jvaljon1

    I remember the days when “Duh Commies” were America’s enemy.  I see what has happened under Reagan and W, and I’m here to tell you that Duh Commies never EVER did America the sort of harm that the Rethuglicans have done.  “Duh Republicans” should be everyone’s watchword–not only for who NOT to vote for EVER–but to teach our grandchildren that if they like their jobs, their homes, and the money in their pockets–in short a happy life–GO VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION–(not just the ones that will “fix” the harm that was done by you not voting the last time–) AND DO NOT EVER EVER VOTE REPUBLICAN.