Canvassers Reject Collective Bargaining Proposal, Issue Headed To Court
The State Board of Canvassers (SBOC) split 2-2 last week on whether to approve the collective bargaining ballot proposal being championed by the group Protect Our Jobs. Because a majority is needed to put a proposal on the ballot, the split decision effectively bars the proposal from going before voters unless that decision is overturned by the courts.
The judicial challenge to the decision has already been filed with the Court of Appeals. This is no surprise and, regardless of how the canvassers would have ruled on the proposal, it was sure to go to the courts for a final ruling.
The SBOC’s decision hinged on a debate as to whether the proposal meets the requirement that ballot questions have to be able to be summarized in 100 words or fewer. A memo from Attorney General Bill Scheutte indicates that the initiative could repeal 18 constitutional provisions, impact 13 statutes, and repeal some 170 Michigan laws. Citizen’s Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, the main group opposing the ballot initiative, argued that the far-reaching potential impacts of the ballot proposal make it equivalent to a general revision of the Constitution, which is prohibited, and further said that there was no way that all of the implications of the proposal could be summarized in the allotted 100 word limit.
Supporters of the proposal argued that there is no possible way to know in advance all of the implications of such a proposal. They pointed to previous ballot initiatives such as such as the Proposal A school finance reforms and the proposal to reject same-sex marriage, which have had other effects than what might have originally been expected.
There was no question whether the proposal had sufficient signatures for the ballot. Organizers submitted more than twice the number needed and even after the signatures were reviewed by Bureau of Elections officials and duplicate or invalid signatures were thrown out, the group had more than 200,000 additional signatures than needed.
Supporters for the proposal have filed an action with the Supreme Court, asking to bypass the Court of Appeals for a ruling on whether the proposal could go on the ballot. As of the writing of this article, the Supreme Court had not yet decided on that action.