Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Michigan Constitution Under Attack

I have written in the past about the danger a constitutional convention poses to the US Constitution.

Now it appears that the same danger exists in Michigan as well. A group is plotting to hold a constitutional convention in Michigan to impose a number of terrible changes to our state's highest document.

Apparently, since the Michigan constitutional convention in 1963, voters must be asked whether they want a new constitutional convention every 16 years. Voters wisely said no in 1978 and 1994. We will be asked again in 2010.

The group that wants a constitutional convention calls itself "Citizens for Michigan." Any group that has a syrupy name like that is probably up to something. Some recent examples include "One United Michigan," which turned out to be "The 42% of Michigan that Supports Racial Discrimination" and "Citizens for Kids" (gag!) , which was really "A Giant Teachers Union for Taking Your Money." It turns out "Citizens for Michigan" should really be called "Washed-up Liberal Politicians Against Michigan."

Here's a list of some of the "citizens" behind this group:

Citizens for Michigan, headed by former bond attorney John AXE, former Attorney General Frank KELLEY, longtime Macomb County Commission Chair John HERTEL and Oakland County Executive Brooks PATTERSON are scheduled to roll out 63 recommended changes to the state's 43-year-old Constitution. (snip)

Some notable group members include U.S. Rep. Joe SCHWARZ (R-Battle Creek), former Sen. Harry GAST, Debbie DINGELL, former Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGROW and former House Speaker Paul HILLEGONDS. The group received legal input from around 25 experts in their field, include Lucille TAYLOR, Mike HODGE, Doug DRAKE and Bob LaBRANT, among others.
Kelley and Dingell are liberal Democrats. Longtime readers know that I have no love for Joe Schwarz. Harry Gast was a longtime liberal State Senator. Dan DeGrow was too moderate for Dick Posthumus to support for Attorney General in 2002. Paul Hillegonds was the spokesman for "The 42% of Michigan that Supports Racial Discrimination" aka "One United Michigan." Schwarz and Gast both voted against concealed carry, and Schwarz, Gast, and DeGrow were all "victims" of term limits.

So what does this group want? Their list of demands sounds like a parody of what the most corrupt politicians would want. They want to:

Eliminate all ballot initiatives.

-Expand term limits to 12 years for executive officeholders and 12 years each for the state House and Senate. Now, all are limited to eight years, except in the House, where the limit is six years.

-Allow governors to appoint Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals members for a single 10-year term with a partisan balance on the court, rather than having justices elected to eight-year terms.

-Allow governors to appoint members of the State Board of Education and the governing boards for the state's three top-tier universities, subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate, rather than having them elected.

-Allow the collection of a mill statewide to go into a central fund to pay for school district building programs. The tax would collect $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value in residential, commercial or industrial property.

-Allow local politicians to be recalled only for nonpolitical reasons, such as malfeasance in office.

-Lower to a majority rather than a supermajority the percentage of votes needed in the state House and Senate to raise taxes.

-Require lawmakers' salaries to go up without a vote by lawmakers unless the State Officers Compensation Committee recommends a raise that exceeds inflation.

-Give the governor the right to a "pocket veto," which would kill any bills not signed by the governor within a certain number of days if the Legislature had adjourned.
So basically, the group wants to raise taxes, make it easier to raise taxes, eliminate ballot initiatives, eliminate election of Supreme Court Justices, eliminate election of education boards, lengthen term limits, increase politicians salaries automatically, and make it harder to recall politicians.

Who do these clowns think they are? I'm surprised they have the guts to show their faces in public. Apparently the group has a total of 63 recommendations. I recommend that you leave a comment on their website: Republican Michigander has more information on the group's proposals.

This needs to be stopped, and quickly.


A.J. said...

Wow. This is absurd. You forgot to talk about how much power all these changes will give the governor. The last thing I want is one person making all my decisions for me. Not only that, but the simple majority rule for raising taxes is the most frightening, I think. I wonder: would a simple majority rule apply to lowering taxes as well?

Anonymous said...

Eliminating ballot initiatives is a terribly regressive idea. Don’t they know the history of how state ballot initatives led to Congress passing women’s suffrage, direct election of Senators, campaign finance reforms, etc.? How about other good things Congress hasn’t followed yet like clean elections or medical marijuana?

Here in Colorado we’re looking at IMPROVING the ballot initiative process, adding deliberative measures like hearings, reports and amendments before citizens vote. CU Law School is sponsoring a conference on initiatives on Jan 26.

Please see for more information

“The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions
of government.” –George Washington