Emergency Manager Law, Public Act 4 — July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm

What if killing off ALL of Michigan’s ballot initiatives is exactly what those in power want? (UPDATED)


I didn’t see that one coming at all

This wrote about Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s brief to the Michigan Supreme Court in which she says that if the petitions to repeal Public Act 4 are insufficient to meet the rules set out in our state constitution, the so are ALL of the other ballot initiative’s petitions. My comment in that post was that it “gives me hope” and I suggested that this was an unintended and undesirable side effect of this court challenge.

I’m having second thoughts on that.

Dana Houle sent me this tweet:

Then, a bit later, David Holtz, former Executive Director of Progress Michigan left this comment on the Eclectablog Facebook page:

If I were inclined toward cynical conspiracy theory on this I might think that since the MI and DTW Chambers of Commerce-Big Business–is mounting a vote no campaign on all ballot measures this would give the GOP Supreme Court majority a nice way of delivering to their patrons. One ruling=mission accomplished. Taking it a step further, that’s a whole lot of chamber political money freed up to help the Republicans keep their Supreme Court majority this year. Of course this isn’t the case and the Secretary of State didn’t really hand over an excuse to gut the ballot. That’s too cynical for even me to believe. Right?

I did some checking. They’re right. A coalition of business “leaders” has formed to encourage everyone to “just vote no” on every ballot initative.

From Rick Pluta at Michigan Radio:

A coalition of business groups will urge voters to say “no” to every question that appears on the November ballot.

Rich Studley is with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a coalition leader. He said the ballot questions are constitutional amendments that deal with labor issues, energy policy, casinos, a Detroit border crossing, and taxation. There is also a proposed challenge to the state’s emergency manager law. He said these are policy questions that should be dealt with by the Legislature, and tweaked by lawmakers when it becomes it becomes necessary. He said putting them into the state constitution would mean it would take another amendment, and another ballot campaign, to make changes.

Tim Skubick has more:

The Just-Vote-No on every ballot proposal is the ultimate in trying to manipulate a very malleable electorate. Instead of wasting hours studying each plan and assessing the pros and cons, this says chuck that stuff and take the easy way out.

Rich Studley, president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, says the coalition is considering this recommendation because it’s a neat way to keep all of these issues from cluttering the state constitution.

The more I think about it, the more this seems like just one more part in a very well-executed plan, led by the Chamber of Commerce, to ensure that nothing happens that rocks the boat or changes the status quo for the business community. They like all of the privatization that’s happening. They like most of the various ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments are trying to change.

Most of all, they like the fact that they have a very right-leaning, pro-Big Business supreme court to make this historic decision.

And it will be historic if they uphold the challenge to the PA 4 petitions. From here on out, precedent and stare decisis will no longer govern how the Supreme Court rules. And decades of decisions are suddenly wide open for reinterpretation.

Think about that for a minute.

UPDATE: By the way, I’m not the only one who whiffed on this. David Eggert at MLive suggests that Ruth Johnson is going against the Big Business grain:

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, and the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers – which deadlocked 2-2 on certifying the citizen-initiated repeal for the November election – filed a brief more in line with supporters of the proposed referendum than critics.

That puts them at odds with GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette and a business-affiliated group that want to keep the measure off the ballot.

I think he’s wrong about that, just like I was.