On a day set to see a slew of petition initiatives filed to change Michigan laws, only one campaign — an effort to cap payday loan interest rates — filed signed petition forms before the date. deposit deadline Wednesday to clinch a spot on the November ballot.
Meanwhile, two high-profile Republican-backed initiative petitions have vowed to continue collecting signatures and filing their petition forms in the coming weeks in hopes that state election officials will quickly review them. despite missing the deadline.
Organizers of the Secure MI Vote to enact tough voter ID laws and the Let MI Kids Learn petition initiatives do not intend to put their initiatives on the ballot and instead hope lawmakers will adopt their proposals later this year.
Republican lawmakers have already passed bills reflecting these proposals, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed the legislation. The initiative petition process, however, allows lawmakers to pass the same proposals without the support of the governor.
Jamie Roe, a spokesperson for the Secure MI Vote initiative, called Wednesday’s filing date “a kind of artificial deadline” and said state election officials could review signatures the group plans to submit. table so that the GOP-led Legislature can take up the proposal. rapidly.
Steve Liedel, an attorney who previously served as legal counsel to Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, said organizers of initiatives that missed the filing deadline face a steep hill to climb if they want lawmakers to pass their proposals before the end of the year.
“Anything submitted after that date is a proposal that could ultimately be put to voters in the 2024 ballot,” he said. “And while the process is for the Legislative Assembly to vote on them, the whole process is structured around the election they’re going to face.”
The office is preparing to administer two statewide elections and has an obligation to review petition initiatives that were submitted by Wednesday’s filing deadline ahead of the 2022 election, Liedel said.
“Nothing compels the board, given all it has to do in a very busy election year…to take care of anything for the 2024 election. The 2022 election d ‘on board.”
Organizers of other initiatives have already begun to consider the next election, including a campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage and another to add Michigan to a coalition of states aiming to decide presidential elections by popular vote instead. of the Electoral College.
These campaigns have announced that they will try to run in the 2024 ballot instead of submitting their proposals to voters at midterm.
Other initiative petitions have missed the deadline to submit signatures, including those seeking to limit the authority of local public health officials, establish a new credit system to reduce prison sentences, conduct a another audit of the 2020 presidential election, to legalize psychedelic mushrooms and to decertify the 2020 presidential election.
Payday Loan Initiative Files Signatures
The Michiganders for Fair Lending proposal would cap interest rates on payday loans at an annual percentage rate of 36%. It would void transactions above that rate, require a warning to consumers specifying the maximum rate allowed, and empower the attorney general’s office to prosecute those who charge above it.
Campaign organizers showed up with stacks of boxes containing petition forms outside the office of the State Board of Elections.
Dallas Lenear, the group’s treasurer, said that in most Michigan counties there are more payday loan stores than McDonald’s, and they’re disproportionately located in rural and low-income communities where residents are struggling to pay the high interest rates currently being charged.
The group has submitted more than 400,000 signatures, Lenear said.
In order to get proposed legislation before lawmakers or on the ballot, the sponsors of these petition initiatives had to collect at least 340,047 signatures from voters.
Under Michigan election law, the Board of State Solicitors must determine whether the initiative has obtained enough valid signatures. The next board meeting is scheduled for June 23.
Let MI Kids Learn and Secure MI Vote miss the deadline, vow to submit signatures soon
The Let MI Kids Learn proposal to create a tax credit to fund scholarships to cover educational expenses such as private school tuition said in a statement it would continue to collect signatures for a few weeks.
“We are going to be patient in achieving our goals because the stakes for our children are so high,” said Let MI Kids Learn spokesperson Fred Wszolek.
The Secure MI Vote initiative which proposes new voter identification requirements, election financing restrictions and a ban on unsolicited mailings of mail-in ballot requests announced a similar plan.
Roe told a press conference that he believed the campaign had collected enough valid signatures, but had identified around 20,000 fraudulent signatures when reviewing petition forms, raising concerns and the need to further examination.
The group plans to turn over the signatures to law enforcement and believes some of the signatures were collected by the same traffic state election officials found guilty of forgery on nomination petitions filed by gubernatorial candidates. of the GOP, Roe said.
Raising wages looks to 2024
Raise the Wage, an effort to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 by 2027, expressed similar concerns over the recent discovery of the alleged signature fraud scheme.
The group said in a statement it had collected significantly more than the required 340,047 signatures, but said it would wait to collect more signatures and submit them to state election officials in June to qualify. for the 2024 election.
But One Fair Wage President Saru Jayaraman said in a statement that Michigan’s campaign to raise the minimum wage decided to delay its own signings “out of an abundance of caution.”
“The most important thing for us is that a million workers in Michigan get paid $15 an hour, and that’s the path that gives us that victory,” Jayaraman said.
The Yes on Popular initiative to decide presidential elections by popular vote rather than the Electoral College had previously announced last December that it also aimed to submit its proposal to voters in 2024.
Fully Unlock the Michigan Ditch Initiative II Effort
Last year, the Republican-controlled state Senate and House passed the Unlock Michigan Initiative’s petition to repeal the Emergency Powers Act that Whitmer used at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 to issue health and safety restrictions. Organizers of this initiative also aimed to change the state’s public health code through the initiative’s petition process to limit emergency orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health workers to 28 days, unless approved by the Legislative Assembly or local governing bodies.
But the initiative’s organizers announced on Tuesday that they would not continue with the initiative petition process and would instead focus on pressuring lawmakers to enact legislation next year.
While Republican lawmakers in the GOP-controlled legislature have expressed support for the so-called Unlock Michigan II proposal, they may lose their majority in the upcoming November election.
The Michigan Initiative Petition, Explained
Legislators can choose whether or not to put initiative petition proposals on the ballot. If they don’t pass the initiative, it goes to a statewide vote. Legislators can also choose to enact proposed changes themselves.
If lawmakers don’t act within 40 session days, the bill will go on the ballot. The proposals could also appear on the ballot if the legislature proposes a different measure on the same subject, placing both proposals on the ballot for voters to approve.
But unlike the normal process lawmakers follow to change state laws, Michigan’s initiative petition process allows lawmakers to override the governor’s veto and enact initiatives on their own. Not only can lawmakers enact voter-initiated legislation without the support of the governor, they can do so without the support of a majority of voters in a statewide election.
Michigan stands out nationally by allowing lawmakers to approve legislation not subject to veto or gubernatorial approval in a statewide election.
Clara Hendrickson audits Michigan issues and politics as a body member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support his work at bit.ly/freepRFA. Contact her at [email protected] or 313-296-5743. Follow her on Twitter @clarajanehen.