Jul 8, 2008

Just say no to complex ballot issue

Reform Michigan Government Now turned in almost 500,000 signatures to the Secretary of State on Monday to place the ballot proposal on the November ballot that will make a number of changes to the structure of state government.

Right-wingers have come out against this petition drive, and even though some of their reasons for opposing it borders on the hysterical and ridiculous, I agree with some of the reasons for opposition, and if it makes it on the ballot I will vote against it. According to the group's new web site, the proposal will “Reduce the salaries of executive branch, end free lifetime health care for lawmakers and bring their retirement benefits in line with other state workers and increase transparency by requiring elected officials to disclose their income and assets every year. I agree that those things need to be looked at, but it does much, much more than that.

It would also cut the Supreme Court Justices to five members, from seven, reduces the Court of Appeals by seven members and adds 10 circuit court judges. There is no doubt the Supreme Court is firmly in the pocket of insurance companies and big corporations, but what needs to change is how Justices are selected.

The House would be cut to 82 members from the current 110 and the Senate to 28 from 38 and half of the Senate seats would be decided at each election.

New reapportionment requirements would be established, including the creation of at least four Senate and nine House swing districts in an attempt to produce more competitive elections; districts would be drawn by a nine-member commission, with six votes required to approve any plan; it would not be subject to change or repeal by voters, the legislative or executive branches and judicial review would be limited.

Elections would be overseen by an autonomous nonpartisan agency.

The number of allowed departments would be cut to 18, from 20, and no more than 200 boards and commissions would be permitted.

Many of these proposals I agree with, some I don’t and some I simply do not have enough information on to make a decision. Neither will voters. These complex proposals, at the least, should be taken one at a time. Frankly, I am not a fan of legislating by petition. We elect people to represent us in our representative democracy, and they make laws after plenty of debate, analysis by nonpartisan agencies, committee hearings and debate on the respective House or Senate floors. To me, that’s the best way to make laws and policy.

I’m also not crazy about the petition drive itself. I do not believe the baseless charges of fraud make by the Republicans, but the fact is there was not a lot of publicity, openness and visibility of the drive. I’m pretty politically active, and I never saw a petition.

I urge people to vote no if this makes it on the ballot, and instead to call for a state Constitutional Convention to address some of the important issues brought out in the petition.


a concerned liberal said...

CG, in an earlier post you asked for a source. Here it is:

Congressional Performance
Congressional Approval Falls to Single Digits for First Time Ever

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

Last month, 11% of voters gave the legislature good or excellent ratings. Congress has not received higher than a 15% approval rating since the beginning of 2008.

The percentage of Democrats who give Congress positive ratings fell from 17% last month to 13% this month. The number of Democrats who give Congress a poor rating remained unchanged. Among Republicans, 8% give Congress good or excellent ratings, up just a point from last month. Sixty-five percent (65%) of GOP voters say Congress is doing a poor job, down a single point from last month.

Voters not affiliated with either party are the most critical of Congressional performance. Just 3% of those voters give Congress positive ratings, down from 6% last month. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe Congress is doing a poor job, up from 57% last month.

Just 12% of voters think Congress has passed any legislation to improve life in this country over the past six months. That number has ranged from 11% to 13% throughout 2008. The majority of voters (62%) say Congress has not passed any legislation to improve life in America.


Anonymous said...

I agree. The fact several prominent Democratic lawmakers have expressed public opposition and many more have done so privately says this was not a very good move.

And if you live in a district likely to lose representation, as is parts of Detroit, I doubt you'll be very happy, regardless if you like your current lawmaker.

It's debatable it will even get on the ballot, but if it does, I hope voters see past the "punishments" of cutting lawmakers pay and benefits and turn it down.