2012 Ballot Proposal Overview
Proposal 1: Emergency Manager Law Referendum
A referendum to repeal Public Act 4 of 2011, known as the Emergency Manager law. The 2011 law gave emergency managers greater powers to dissolve contracts and suspend elected officials’ power when handling a financial emergency in a public school district or a unit of local government. Emergency managers have already been appointed in the following cities: Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, and Pontiac as well as the Detroit, Highland Park, and the Muskegon Heights school districts. The City of Allen Park is undergoing a financial review.
Unions, Democratic lawmakers consider P.A. 4 an undemocratic infringement on people’s right to have autonomous local elected officials.
With the referendum on the November ballot, the law is suspended and the emergency managers acting in seven cities and school districts have limited ability to perform their duties. A repeal of the law would halt all last resort activity to save cities and schools from bankruptcy.
MRA Recommendation: VOTE YES. This would not directly affect retailers but may affect the quality of resources available and the value of the overall community if the state cannot help prevent local governments from going through bankruptcy.
Proposal 2: Right to Collective Bargaining
This would create a guarantee of collective bargaining rights for both public and private employees in the Michigan Constitution. The amendment would also ban the Michigan Legislature from making Michigan a right-to-work state.
Supporters say this would prohibit state and local governments from interfering with collective bargaining rights, and protect current laws establishing minimum wages, hours, and working conditions.
If the amendment is approved, it could invalidate as many as 80–170 laws that were passed during the 2011-2012 legislative term. Many of the laws that may be invalidated were designed to help control skyrocketing costs and liabilities for local governments and schools. If cost controlling measures are removed, taxes may be increased on residents, property, and businesses.
MRA Recommendation: VOTE NO. MRA believes that employers should be able to continue making decisions about collective bargaining with employees and not have rights constitutionally guaranteed. Unions have been attempting to organize different sectors and may expand to retail employees if this passes. Retailers should also be concerned over the impact of overturning these laws – many of which were designed to help control skyrocketing costs and liabilities for local governments and schools. If cost controlling measures are removed, taxes may be increased on residents, property, and businesses.
Proposal 3: "25 by 25"
This proposal would require utility companies to obtain at least 25 percent of their electricity from clean renewable energy sources by 2025. A 2008 law required that at least 10 percent of Michigan’s energy sold be produced from renewable sources by 2015. This proposal would raise that requirement an additional 15 percent over 10 years.
Only 3.6 percent of the energy used in Michigan is currently from renewable sources. Supporters claim that the 25% by 2025 requirement would bring $10 billion of investment to Michigan and create jobs for Michigan workers in the clean energy sector. Using more wind and solar energy will reduce pollution and give Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water, and protect the Great Lakes.
Utility companies have indicated that they do not believe the resources exist to meet the 25% by 2025 standard. Renewable energy is significantly more expensive, and recent estimates put the cost starting at $10 billion, depending on which renewable sources are used.
MRA Recommendation: VOTE NO. With the higher energy costs falling to retailers, MRA recommends opposing this proposal. Retailers should expect higher energy bills in the future if this amendment is adopted in November. Additionally, MRA supports electric-deregulation legislation, which would increase consumer choice and decrease electricity costs for retailers.
Proposal 4: Michigan Quality Home Care Council
This would establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council, which would create a registry of workers from which consumers could choose their care provider, require training of home care providers, and provide limited collective bargaining rights to home help care workers. The state currently has about 50,000 Medicaid recipients receiving assistance support through the home help program.
The registry of home health workers may help Medicaid recipients find health professionals that meet their needs.
Opponents of the proposal consider this an attempt to force unionization of private caregivers and to siphon off money from the state.
MRA Recommendation: VOTE NO. This proposal would not likely affect the retail community. However, it sets an alarming precedent in potentially organizing large groups of private individuals into a union organization.
Proposal 5: Two-Thirds Supermajority Vote for Tax Increases
This would prohibit the imposition of new or additional taxes or expansion of the base of taxation by the State of Michigan unless approved by a 2/3 majority of members in each chamber of the legislature or by a statewide vote of the people.
A two-thirds supermajority before raising taxes would prevent jobs that are lost to neighboring states with lower taxes, like Indiana. Michigan requires a three-fourths supermajority to raise the state educational property tax, which supporters claim has saved Michigan taxpayers billions of dollars in property taxes since 1994.
This could create minority rule in the Michigan Legislature, letting a handful of politicians stop the majority when it comes to tax issues. Without the flexibility to increase or expand the tax base residents could see their quality of life deteriorate.
MRA Recommendation: VOTE NO. The bipartisan opposition to this proposal reflects MRA’s position that while retailers do not believe raising taxes should be taken lightly, this would significantly limit the legislature’s ability to control funding and balance the state budget.
Proposal 6: Public Vote on a New International Crossing
This would require a vote of the people before the State of Michigan could construct or finance new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles. This is a response to the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) by the Ambassador Bridge Company, the owners of the existing private Detroit-Windsor span.
The proposal would give Michigan taxpayers a direct voice on how or if their tax dollars should be spent on international transportation projects.
There is some question what affect this would have on the current NITC project supported by Governor Snyder. The Administration does not believe it would impact the project since no public funds will be used and therefore it is not needed. If it did impact the NITC, that could hurt commerce by blocking the new bridge that is designed to reduce traffic and make U.S. – Canada commerce more efficient.
MRA Recommendation: VOTE NO. MRA feels that the NITC will benefit retailers by reducing the time and current travel restraints between the U. S. and Canada. We recommend opposing this proposal and allowing the governor and legislature through representative government to do their job to improve infrastructure without requiring a vote of the people.