First it was citizens overturning the majority vote of Michigan citizens to overturn our state’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager law. Then it was rape insurance. Then it was a drive to ban wolf hunting. Then it was the effort to raise Michigan’s minimum wage. In each instance, Republicans in the Michigan legislature decided that it wasn’t appropriate for us to be able to vote on these important issues or, if we have voted, that our vote was irrelevant.
Now comes the latest move to quash the democracy. Thanks to a vote of the legislature, led primarily by Republicans, a ballot initiative on the November ballot will be essentially moot and the democratic process where we decide an important issue at the ballot box has been thwarted.
Yesterday, for a second time during their only day in session in August, legislators passed a law, begun by a citizen initiated referendum, that makes a vote on a wolf hunting ban irrelevant. They have perverted our system so flagrantly that there will be TWO referendums on your ballot to ban the hunt and neither one will have any impact unless the courts step in to intervene.
Wolf hunting can continue in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — provided the Natural Resource Commission approves a second season.
The Republican-led state House on Wednesday approved and enacted a citizen-initiated law that will effectively undermine two anti-wolf hunt proposals set to appear on the November ballot.
The new law, sent to the Legislature via a statewide petition drive and approved by the Senate two weeks ago, reaffirms the ability of the NRC to name game species and establish hunting seasons. It does not require the governor’s signature.
(For details on the indirect initiated state statute process used by the pro-hunt group Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, click HERE.)
To add insult to injury, as they have in previous actions, Republicans added an appropriation to the bill which makes it referendum-proof. In other words, not only do you not get to voice your opinion on the matter, you never will be able to in the future, at least not by putting the issue on the ballot as a referendum. The appropriation in the law passed yesterday to fight invasive species is completely unrelated to the wolf hunt.
State Rep. Brandon Dillon put it best when he said, “The actions on this bill, frankly, are not out of a first-rate democracy, they’re one of a banana republic.”
Proponents of hunting the 636 wolves — down from 673 in 2012 — in Michigan claim it’s to cull the herd to prevent livestock and pets from being killed by wolves. Five hunting dogs and a cow have been killed by wolves this year. What they don’t tell you is that it’s already completely legal to kill nuisance wolves who are a threat.
The fact is that wolves aren’t hunted to eat. They are hunted to be stuffed and put in people’s homes as trophies. Wolves have only recently been delisted as an endangered species but the trophy hunters couldn’t wait to start killing them again.
[T]wo anti-wolf hunt proposals have already been approved for the November ballot following statewide petition drives, which means that existing laws will remain suspended until at least November. If voters overturn those laws, there won’t be another on the books until next year.
“Those referendums are going to be on the ballot no matter what,” Fritz said. “So we still urge citizens to go to the polls in November and vote ‘no’ on both proposals to return wolves to non-game status while we continue to fight whatever effects come about from the initiative vote.”
Scott Eldridge, a Miller Canfield attorney representing the wolf protection group, said the they will “digest” Wednesday’s vote before determining how to proceed. He cited Article 4, Section 24 of the Michigan Constitution — which is designed to limit the scope of a law — as potential grounds for challenge.
There’s also a constitutional question over whether citizen-initiated laws can be subject to a referendum if they contain an appropriation, which the new measure does. The Michigan Supreme Court, in a 2001 ruling, said those laws cannot be challenged at the ballot box.
Please note the bolded section. It’s still very important to vote for the two referendums banning the wolf hunt so that those fighting to protect wolves can show that they have a high level of support.
If you’d like to help Keep Wolves Protected fight this anti-democratic move, please consider making a donation HERE.
Michigan citizens have weighed in on this issue multiple times by signing petitions to both support and ban the wolf hunt. Michigan Republicans, instead of allowing a fair vote of all Michiganders in the general election, have decided in favor of only one of those groups and they have done it in a way that ensures that the voice of many Michigan voters is silenced.
We are in the final 79 days of the campaign season and you need to get active. Perhaps it’s a candidate that gets you out to knock doors and make calls. Perhaps it’s a particular issue like marriage equality, the environment, or education. For every single one of us the perversion of democracy in our state by right wing conservatives should be a hugely motivating factor to get out the vote for Democrats. They are the only defense we have against the anti-democratic overreach of Republicans.
Don’t just be a keyboard activist. Get involved, make some calls, knock some doors, volunteer for a campaign in some way or another. Do it as if democracy in Michigan is a stake.
Because it’s not hyperbole to say that it absolutely is.
[CC wolf photo by ElfenLied333 | DeviantArt]