It’s that time again!!

Oh goody! Another highly charged election!

We are overwhelmed by everything we’ve had to learn, and have yet to learn, before Tuesday.  It’s bad enough that everyone is stressed about the presidential and senatorial elections, and that we need to learn about our new state’s officials.  The ballot here is HUGE.  I was going to post it here, but it is a 5 page pdf and I’ll spare you all.  We vote for a state board of education, trustees for UM, MSU, Wayne State, and the community college, local judges, state judges, the list goes on.  We also have six ballot initiatives, five of which are proposed state constitutional amendments.  Officials are worried that these alone are going to clog voting lines because we all have to go in booths and read the darn things.

——–Friendly Ballot Guide——–

President:  We have the usual suspects and three others on the ballot here (Goode, Stein, and Anderson).
As of today, Princeton and 538 are calling MI for Obama.  (538 is calling WI a tossup!)

US Senate:  Pete Hoekstra (R) is challenging our incumbent senator Debbie Stabenow (D).  I’ll just say that I saw exactly one attack ad on TV, and I decided to vote for the attackee.
538 is saying Stabenow will most likely win, but Tammy v. Tommy in WI is too close to call.

MI 8th Congressional District:  Lance Enderle (D) is challenging incumbent Mike Rogers (R).    Also on the ballot:  Daniel Goebel (L), and Preston Brooks (I), a retired Naval officer who is for universal healthcare, universal education including vocational training and increasing government funding for R&D.
538 has Rogers winning in MI and Marc Pocan winning WI 2nd.

State Legislature:  Susan McGillicuddy, a republican who  is running on a pro-environment platform, is challenging Sam Singh (D).  (However, the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action have endorsed Singh.)  In my few months in Michigan, this seems to be an issue that both parties can agree on more than I would have guessed.  Everyone seems very dedicated to protecting the beauty up north (where their cabins are) and understands that we, with the longest freshwater shoreline in the world, have a huge commitment to the great lakes.

State Board of Education, UofM Regents, MSU Regents, Wayne State University Governor:  These races have candidates from the D, R, L, G and “U.S. Taxpayer” parties.  Never heard of that last one?  Brace yourself:  their platform includes the following:

The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.[…]
This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.[…]

All teaching is related to basic assumptions about God and man. Education as a whole, therefore, cannot be separated from religious faith. The law of our Creator assigns the authority and responsibility of educating children to their parents. […]
So that parents need not defy the law by refusing to send their children to schools of which they disapprove, compulsory attendance laws should be repealed.[…]

We reject, however, the argument of the perceived threat of man-made global warming which has been refuted by a large number of scientists. The globalists [??!]are using the global warming threat to gain more control via worldwide sustainable development.

Whew…fun stuff.

–musical interlude–

County officials, seven races.

Township officials, five races, including:
“Park Commissioner, vote for not more than Five.”  One R running, and 5 Ds. Ha!

Then:
Nonpartisan section.  Judicial
Seven seats up for vote. As is probably the case in most states with elected judges, this is not nonpartisan. There is even an ad running for the re-election of three judges. I don’t care what party they are; the thought of three judges who act as a block is terrifying in itself.

Dave is a fan of Utah’s system, wherein judges are appointed and then the public has the option to vote them out at certain intervals; they are almost never ousted (though in a more politically colorful state that might be different). Also several candidates themselves oppose the current voting system and would go to an appointment system.

Local School Board.

Community College Board of Trustees.

–musical interlude–

Ballot Initiatives

PROPOSAL 12-1
A REFERENDUM ON PUBLIC ACT 4 OF 2011 -THE EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW
Public Act 4 of 2011 would:
·Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
·Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
·Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
·Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.

This was very controversial last year.  I found this info page put out by the state which says that “Some are spreading misinformation about the legislation and trying to use this issue to provoke the kind of fighting seen in Wisconsin.”  Yeah, guys, quit acting like Wisconsin!
Even if the new version is not accepted as law, there is an older, milder version which would still be on the books.  So far I’ve heard that a couple towns and one school board have been affected by this law. 

PROPOSAL 12-2
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION REGARDING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
This proposal would:
· Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.
· Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.
· Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
·Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one or more employees.

This has wide support, and I’m not surprised.  While Wisconsin has a strong history of unionized labor and both states have a higher than average number of unionized workers, Michigan has a higher unionized rate 

PROPOSAL 12-3
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH A STANDARD FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY
This proposal would:
· Require electric utilities to provide at least 25% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources, which are wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower, by 2025.
· Limit to not more than 1% per year electric utility rate increases charged to consumers only to achieve compliance with the renewable energy standard.
· Allow annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25% standard in order to prevent rate increases over the 1% limit.
· Require the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan made equipment and employment of Michigan residents.

A bit of history: in 2008 MI passed a law stipulating that by 2015 10% of our energy come from renewable sources.  We are on track to meet that.  Arguements for this proposal include the assertion that our energy costs have gone down since that law was passed; arguments against it include (1) we’ll be giving all our money to rich Californians [??] and (2) this will look silly in our constitution in 100 years.

PROPOSAL 12-4
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION
TO ESTABLISH THE MICHIGAN QUALITY HOME CARE COUNCIL AND PROVIDE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING FOR IN-HOME CARE WORKERS
This proposal would:
·Allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council (MQHCC). Continue the current exclusive representative of in-home care workers until modified in accordance with labor laws.
·Require MQHCC to provide training for in-home care workers, create a registry of workers who pass background checks, and provide financial services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care.
·Preserve patients’ rights to hire in-home care workers who are not referred from the MQHCC registry who are bargaining unit members.
·Authorize the MQHCC to set minimum compensation standards and terms and conditions of employment.

This seems to me to be pretty redundant if #2 passes.

PROPOSAL 12-5
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION
TO LIMIT THE ENACTMENT OF NEW TAXES BY STATE GOVERNMENT
This proposal would:
Require a 2/3 majority vote of the State House and the State Senate, or a statewide vote of the people at a November election, in order for the State of Michigan to impose new or additional taxes on taxpayers or expand the base of taxation or increasing the rate of taxation.
This section shall in no way be construed to limit or modify tax limitations otherwise created in
this Constitution.

So basically, do you ever want the state to ever again be able to raise taxes at all?

PROPOSAL 12-6
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION
REGARDING CONSTRUCTION OF INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES AND TUNNELS
This proposal would:
· Require the approval of a majority of voters at a statewide election and in each municipality where “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located before the State of Michigan may expend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.
· Create a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” that means, “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”

This last one is the biggest joke of all.  I don’t know anyone who wants this to pass, with the exception of the neighborhood that may be affected by a potential new bridge and the Moroun family.  (It’s pronounced “maroon,” guys….not “moron.”)

Quick summary:  The only border crossing between Detroit and Canada is owned by a rich guy.  He charges tolls to cross, and it carries a very large amount of the total US-Canadian trade.  The bridge is in disrepair, and it does not connect directly to Canada’s interstate system.

There are many ads for this proposal, and we have seen none against it.  Mr. Moroun spent another $5M just last week, and he is on track to spend more than, and some say twice as much as, was spent by both parties in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

This measure is unrealistic because it requires voter approval before a new bridge can even be planned.  How then would voters be able to make an informed decision?

Our favorite ad so far depicts “regular citizens” — you know, guy in diner, guy on motorcycle, mom — upset because the state has plans to build a bridge “with foreign workers and foreign steel.”  Sure, this would be totally terrible for the state of Michigan….if you think that Canada giving us a free bridge that they make with their own steel is bad for the state of Michigan.  All future bridges aside, this is a no-brainer!

–musical interlude–

Ingham County Health Services Millage:  should we raise property taxes to provide very basic health care to those who are poor and not otherwise insured?  An owner of a $100,000 home would pay another $52 per year.

Township Central Fire Station Millage:  should we raise property taxes to build a new fire station?  An owner of a $100,000 home would pay another $20 per year.

—————————————————-

Go home.

Pass out.

Self-medicate as needed and remain glued to a glowing screen until the numbers are in.

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