Feb 10, 2008

Recall efforts continue to take twists and turns

The old saying that “you need a scorecard to know the players” can apply to the recall efforts against primarily Democratic lawmakers.

Developments occur almost daily over the attempt to recall lawmakers who voted for the increase of the income tax and the sales tax on some services – since repealed - that avoided a government shutdown and helped balanced the state budget on Oct. 1., and all of it is going on as the clock ticks toward the November General Election when all recall efforts – at least for state Representative – will become moot.

The Michigan Recalls Organization, another recall effort headed by Republican Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet, helped file new recall petitions against Rep. Mike Simpson, D-Liberty Township, after the Jackson County Elections Commission rejected six previous petitions for not having clear language.

However, the Jackson County commission did approve recall language against Rep. Marty Griffin, D-Jackson, last week.

The Oakland County Election Commission was also busy last week. Just the day after an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge ruled that the recall petition language against Rep. Marie Donigan, D-Royal Oak, was unclear, the commission, led by clerk and former Republican state Representative Ruth Johnson, filed an appeal of that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The same Commission rejected the petition language for House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi. The recall cites his vote against repealing the state's pharmaceutical company immunity law that allows consumers to sue drug companies who cause death and injury through negligence. Additionally, another Oakland County lawmaker, Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi, D-Farmington Hills, is appealing his approved language to circuit court.

According to Michigan election law, the petition circulator must collect only those signatures of voters registered in the House District of the lawmaker being recalled, and the person collecting the signatures must also be a registered voter in that district. The petitions must contain the signatures equal to at least 25 percent for all the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in the district of the lawmaker being recalled. That comes out to 7,627 signatures to force a recall vote for Griffin and 8,700 signatures for Simpson.

The clock may even be a bigger factor in the recall effort. Michigan Election Law says that a recall petition cannot be filed against an elected official during the last six months of the officer's term of office, and that puts the drop-dead date in May for the November ballot Additionally, the language is good for 180 days, but the actual petition drive for signatures must be within 90 days. In other words, there must be 90 days between the first and last signature.

Recall language has already been approved in the recalls against Griffin; House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township; Rep. Marc Corriveau, D-Northville; Rep. Ed Gaffney, R-Grosse Pointe Farms; Rep. Steve Bieda, D-Warren; Rep. Robert Dean, D-Grand Rapids; and Vagnozzi. Recalls pending against lawmakers who had recall language rejected include Simpson, Donigan, DeRoche, Sen. Jerry Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores; Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch; and Rep. Mary Valentine, D-Muskegon.

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