Rep. Anthony wants to close a loophole in ballot proposal law

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Lansing’s own state representative wants to protect ballot initiatives from interference from lawmakers.

On Wednesday, Democratic State Rep. Sarah Anthony introduced House Joint Resolution F, which proposes an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would take away the ability of Michigan lawmakers to pass ballot initiatives on their own.

Right now, citizens can collect signatures to get a proposal on the ballot, which gives voters a chance to decide whether they are approved.

However, the legislature can intervene in that process. Once the signatures are collected, but before the election, lawmakers have 40 days to pass the proposal on their own. If they do, the proposal will not appear on the ballot. This makes it easier for lawmakers to change the proposal at a later date since anything approved by voters would require a three-fourths vote in the legislature to amend.

The group One Fair Wage says this is what happened in 2018 when they backed a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022. The legislature approved the proposal on its own, keeping it off the ballot, but later changed the provisions so the minimum wage would rise more slowly, hitting $12.05 by 2030. The state’s current minimum wage is $9.65. One Fair Wage announced on Wednesday that is suing the state over the changes, which it calls unconstitutional.

Additionally, when lawmakers pass ballot initiatives, the governor’s signature is not required. That’s why state Republican leaders suggested a ballot initiative to pass GOP election law proposals that are unlikely to get approval from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. If enough signatures are gathered, the legislature could enact those changes without worrying about the governor’s veto.

If Rep. Anthony’s resolution passes the legislature and is approved by voters, the legislature would no longer get to intervene in the ballot initiative process. Lawmakers would also be banned from amending voter-passed initiatives until the next odd-numbered year after they are approved.

Click here to read House Joint Resolution F. It has been referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

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