Michigan’s 6 ballot proposals and how I intend to vote

    Other than trying my best to convince folks to vote for Syed Taj and Barack Obama, and against the likes of “mentally unbalanced” Tea Party-favorite Kerry Bentivolio, the race-baiting Pete Hoekstra, and the climate change denying serial liar Mitt Romney, I haven’t really said much about the upcoming election. To be honest, I didn’t think that I had much to add when it came to ballot initiatives and the like. But, as several of you have written in to ask how I was planning to vote on the various proposals, I thought that, at the very least, I should post something so that people would have a place to discuss the relative merits of each proposal, and ask one another questions. So, with that said, here are my abbreviated thoughts on the proposals which all of us in Michigan will be asked to vote on come Tuesday.

    PROPOSAL 12-1: A REFERENDUM ON PUBLIC ACT 4 OF 2011 – THE EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW… “NO”

    This proposal, as I understand it, would give our Governor the authority to continue dismissing the democratically elected officials of economically distressed communities under the auspices of Public Act 4 (the Emergency Manager Act), replacing them with political appointees empowered to break contracts, dissolve public employee unions, and sell public assets without consideration as to how doing so might negatively impact the long term viability of a community. While I’ll concede that there are serious issues with a number of Michigan’s aging cities, many of which are terribly mismanaged, I refuse to accept that the solution is to strip citizens of their right to self-governance. As we’ve discussed before, according to a February 2012 report by the House Judiciary Committee, if Detroit and Inkster are subject to Emergency Managers, as they surely will be if this proposal is allowed to pass, “that would mean the percentage of African Americans without representative local government under the EM law will be 50.7% of the African American residents of the state, according to census data.” And, that, it would seem to me, is not only unconscionable, but a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act… Here, with a little more background, is something that I wrote earlier this year about these urban Rust Belt morticians we call Emergency Managers.

    …(H)ere, in Michigan, it’s painfully obvious to all but the most delusional among us. As business taxes are being eliminated, and corporate taxes on capital assets are being phased out, the burden of maintaining public services is falling disproportionately on the shoulders of the non-wealthy, and we’re all feeling the increased financial pressure.

    In Michigan, income taxes on the poor and middle class are rising, the pensions of our retirees are being taxed, tax credits for the working poor, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), are being slashed, and, with state assistance for higher education drying up, families are going into unprecedented debt in the hopes of securing stable futures for their children. The Republicans may not see all of these as tax increases, but they are. The increased insurance payments that many of us are forced to pay, because our local fire departments are being downsized, is essentially a tax. The same goes for the private school tuition that several of us are paying, rather than suffer through the constrictions of a public school system which is being systematically dismantled. And these few examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for regular working people in Michigan to merely sustain life. Fortunately for those in power, houses aren’t selling. If they were, I suspect that most of us would be gone.

    And, as those of us in Ypsilanti can attest, it’s the folks who are living in Michigan’s aging cities that are feeling the brunt of this radical redistribution of wealth. With state revenue sharing for cities dropping precipitously, one-by-one communities are being asked to make the choice — either institute a personal income tax, and pay for our own city services, or submit to the rule of an unelected Emergency Financial Manager, who will be empowered to sell off our community assets at fire sale prices, dismiss our democratically elected officials, privatize city services, and break contracts with city employee unions, essentially stripping our carcass of what little meat there is left, and sealing our fate. As long as we don’t ask the wealthy in Michigan’s upscale gated communities to contribute toward the greater good, it’s all the same to the folks in Lansing. They’re allowing us to make the choice…

    So, I will be voting NO on Tuesday.

    If we want to find sustainable, fair solutions to these problems that face us, let’s start by looking at the Headlee Amendment and Proposal A, which restrict property tax increases on existing development, thereby making it impossible for municipalities to recoup the enormous losses in property tax revenues that they’ve experienced in recent years. And, while we’re at it, let’s reconsider other policies that put our aging cities at a competitive disadvantage with our ever-sprawling charter townships. I have no problem with holding ineffective elected officials accountable, but I think that we need to acknowledge the existence of underlying issues which, to a large extent, make their failure inevitable. And, whatever we do going forward, let’s not keep putting unaccountable political appointees in positions where they can, for instance, demand that all public schools be closed in favor of for-profit charter schools (as has happened in Muskegon Heights), or sell valued public land to corporations for pennies on the dollar so that they can build private golf courses (as has happened in Benton Harbor). We need to stop this cancer before it goes any farther, and we need to force our elected officials to find real, sustainable solutions to these problems, which don’t involve destroying unions, privatizing schools, and selling off our public libraries. Contrary to what they’d have us believe, other solutions do exist, and voting against this ballot initiative should bring them to the surface.

    PROPOSAL 12-2: A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION REGARDING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING… “YES”

    A “yes” vote on this proposal would grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions. I know some folks are reluctant to change the State constitution, but this seems to me like a case where it’s clearly called for. My friend Murph, I think, summed it up pretty well when he said, in a recent email to friends, “This is the best possible example of a constitutional amendment, establishing a fundamental right – collective bargaining – in the relationship between government and people.” Ohio and Wisconsin, under attack by anti-labor crusaders like the Koch brothers, have had their bloody fights, and now it’s apparently our turn to beat back the advancing corporate army. I will be voting YES, and I’d encourage you to do the same… And, in case I wasn’t persuasive enough, here’s something from our friend Chris at Eclectablog.

    …The fact is Proposal 2 should not be necessary. It was only when the 2010 Republican tsunami rolled through our state, bringing with it a large number of anti-union extremists hell-bent on crushing our unions, especially public employee unions, that the need for constitutional protections of collective bargaining rights became paramount. From the day they took office, these Republicans have been on a march to make Michigan a so-called “Right to Work” (i.e., “Right to Work for Less”) state that benefits corporate interests at the expense of the middle class. They have passed extreme law after extreme law to slowly but very surely diminish the position of unionized employees with the not-so-subtle side benefit of reducing their support of Democrats in our state.

    When you look at the opponents of Prop 2, it becomes very clear who is funding the opposition. The Koch brothers-supported Mackinac Center. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Business Leaders for Michigan. All pro-Big Business, anti-union interests. Today we learn that the anti-teacher group Students First is contributing a half million dollars to defeat Prop 2.

    It’s a classic “follow the money” moment in our state.

    Governor Rick Snyder is traveling the state, telling anyone who will listen to vote against Prop 2. It’s overreach, he says. It creates division, he says. We don’t need it, he says, while urging Republicans not to push for Right to Work. If Governor Snyder would go on the record saying he would veto Right to Work legislation, we might have something to talk about. But, the fact is, after repeatedly being asked about it, he refuses to say he would veto any such bills that came to his desk. If he were sincere about his desire to avoid this fight, he has had ample opportunity to do so but, so far, has refused.

    This is why Proposal 2 is so necessary. Without it, as long as Republicans are in power, they will continue their incessant efforts to crush unions and union support in Michigan. It’s only by protecting collective bargaining in our constitution that we can stop them…

    Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, the moneyed interests opposing this proposal are suggesting that your “yes” vote will unleash an army of pedophile teachers on our children. If for no other reason than that, I think we need to vote “yes” on this, and demonstrate to these people that the voters of Michigan are smarter than they give them credit for, and find such pathetic and disgusting tactics to be completely unacceptable… Here’s the video.

    PROPOSAL 12-3: A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH A STANDARD FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY… “YES”

    This proposal, if passed, would do four things. First, it would require electric utilities to provide at least 25% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower) by 2025. Second, it would limit rate increases charged by electric utilities to 1%, or less, per year on items tied to the implementation of this legislation. (The cost of energy will surely keep rising, but it won’t, in other words, be because of this legislation.) Third, it would allow annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25% standard in order to prevent rate increases over the 1% limit. And, fourth, it would require the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan made equipment and employment of Michigan residents.

    The following comes from Susan P. Smith, the President of the Lansing Area League of Women Voters.

    …From a study by Michigan State University economists, we estimate that Proposal 3 will create 94,000 Michigan jobs and generate $10.3 billion in new investments.

    President Bill Clinton also urges a yes vote and said: “Proposal 3 invests in Michigan’s future so that it won’t get left behind by the 30 other states that are already creating new clean energy jobs and lowering consumers’ electricity costs.” The Illinois Power Agency has reported its 25 by 2025 renewable energy standard reduced electricity prices by $176 million.

    Compare that with the status quo in Michigan, where the two largest utilities Consumers Energy and DTE Energy have already increased rates by double digits this year alone. Passing Proposal 3 is the best way to protect ratepayers and businesses from such outrageous price hikes. To protect consumers, Proposal 3 explicitly says utilities can’t raise rates by any more than 1 percent in any given year to implement 25 by 25.

    More than 30 other states have measures similar to Proposal 3, including our Midwest neighbors Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, who are creating new energy manufacturing jobs.

    These states are leading the way in clean energy. If they can do it, so can Michigan, and unless we pass Proposal 3 on Nov. 6, Michigan will get left behind in the clean energy race.

    Burning coal and oil endangers our Great Lakes, rivers and air, and the health of our families. Moving to more clean, renewable energy reduces pollution, that’s why the Michigan Nurses Association has called Proposal 3 “the most important public health initiative in decades”…

    Unfortunately, the Michigan Democratic Party didn’t get behind this one, as they’re apparently too beholden to the likes of DTE and Consumers Energy, but this is good legislation that both protects the people of Michigan from price gouging, and points a direction forward that emphasizes clean, renewable energy over fracking and imported coal. And, at the same time, it helps push our state toward energy independence. (Presently we spend over more than $1.7 billion a year importing coal from other states to burn in our power plants.)

    For more information on this proposal, and how it will help jumpstart a vital, new energy industry in Michigan, click here.

    And, lastly, here’s an ad that you might find of persuasive (even though it doesn’t suggest that pedophiles will attack our children if we don’t vote to support the proposal).

    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… “YES”

    This is one of those proposals that I feel as though I should delve into more deeply. On the surface, when I first looked into it, I thought that it was merely a narrower version of Proposal 2, which would guarantee collective bargaining rights for employees in one specific sector of our economy. That appears, however, not to be the full story. The following background comes by way of the Detroit Free Press.

    …(Among other things, this legislation would) codify in the state constitution workers’ right to retain their status (since 2006) as public employee members of SEIU Healthcare Michigan.

    That last arrangement, though only a small portion of the amendment’s language and entirely unmentioned in the pro-Proposal 4 ad campaign, accounts for 100% of the controversy surrounding it.

    In fact, Proposal 4 could best be described as a final showdown in a battle that has raged at the state Capitol over the home care union issue for nearly a decade. It began in 2004, when the administration of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm authorized the creation of a quality home care council at the SEIU’s urging. The SEIU was making the same push with Democratic governors in several other states, as well.

    The Michigan home care council designated home health care workers caring for patients receiving Medicare or Medicaid as public employees and recognized SEIU as their bargaining unit.

    SEIU, after an election in which fewer than 1 in 5 home care workers participated, was certified as the bargaining agent for all of about 43,000 workers, many of whom are caring for family members.

    SEIU and the quality care council signed a contract in 2006, and the state began to deduct 2.75% in union dues from aid payments.

    Opponents — led by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank — have argued from the beginning that the whole thing is a scam. Home health care workers aren’t public employees, they said; they work for their patients…

    I imagine there are some exceptions, but, for the most part, I find that when the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is on one side of a debate, everyone I respect is lined up on the opposite side. I suspect this is one of those cases, and I’ll be voting accordingly.

    PROPOSAL 12-5: A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO LIMIT THE ENACTMENT OF NEW TAXES BY STATE GOVERNMENT… “NO”

    This proposal, if approved, would require a 2/3 majority vote of the State House and the State Senate, or a statewide vote by the citizens of Michigan 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. According to my friend Murph, even the anti-tax Republicans in the state legislature are against this one, so that should tell you something. “Setting a standard of 2/3 vote in each house to change state tax rates while our roads, city services, and schools are falling apart is a state-crippling idea,” says Murph. And, from what I’ve found online, I agree. This, it appears to me, is just one more example of Republican anti-tax extremists trying to impose legislative roadblocks which would make it more difficult for municipalities to conduct their business.

    PROPOSAL 12-6: A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION REGARDING CONSTRUCTION OF INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES AND TUNNELS… “NO”

    This is an easy one for me, as I intensely dislike the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, and its evil, Mr. Potter-like owner, the billionaire slumlord Matty Moroun. Call me a Socialist, but I never understood how the main artery through which people and goods travel between Detroit and Canada, could be in private hands. That seems, to me, to be extremely problematic. And, given that, I was happy to hear that Governor Snyder had made the decision to go up against Moroun, and fight for the construction of a new, publicly-owned bridge connecting our two countries. Moroun, as one would expect, has been fighting tooth and nail to end this project, and keep his cash cow alive. According to estimates that I’ve read, he’s invested approximated $30 million of his own money in the campaign, which he’s tried to position as a widespread grassroots movement against government waste. Ignoring the fact that the construction of the bridge is to be funded in full by the Canadian government, Moroun has inundated the Michigan airwaves with ads suggesting not only that the bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers a fortune, but that the money we’re spending on it could otherwise be used to put additional teachers in our classrooms and cops on our streets, making Detroit safer. As much as I like the idea that the Canadians would, if not for this bridge project, be funding American police forces, I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that this is a lie, and that this whole ballot initiative is nothing more than a disingenuous back door attempt to delay the construction of a bridge that would threaten Moroun’s present monopoly. The fact that he’s willing to do irreparable harm to our State’s constitution in order to extend his monopoly, I think, speaks volumes as to the man’s character, and I look forward to showing him how much I detest him with my vote.

    [note: If you're looking for additional information on any of these, I'd suggest either the Citizens Research Council of Michigan or the League of Women Voters. Both have done an admirable job of outlining the issues.]

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      47 Comments

      1. Glen S.
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:29 am | Permalink

        I agree with your positions on these issues. Let’s hope most Michigan voters agree.

        Closer to home, I hope Ypsilanti voters will take the time to vote “No” on the flawed City Charter update proposal, as well.

      2. Edward
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

        One wonders how much good could have been accomplished with the tens of millions of dollars that Matty Moroun, the Koch Brothers, and their ilk pumped into these various campaigns in an attempt to obfuscate the truth and trick Michigan voters into voting against their interests.

      3. Robert
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        Mark, are you doing live election eve coverage this year?

      4. anonymous
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        I had somehow totally missed the fact that Proposal 12-4 wasn’t just about protecting the right of in-home health care workers to organize, but to organize under Service Employees International Union as public employees.

      5. anonymous
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        From the SEIU Healthcare Michigan site:

        Proposal 4 establishes the Michigan Quality Home Care Council, which would Vote oversee a registry that links home care recipients with pre-screened home care providers in their area. They would require home care providers on the registry to undergo criminal background checks to ensure safety for our loved ones. Home care providers would be given access to critical job training, so they can better care for seniors and people with disabilities. Overall, taxpayer dollars would be saved in avoided nursing home costs, since home care is much less expensive to taxpayers than nursing homes, according to the AARP and the Anderson Economic Group.

        http://www.seiuhealthcaremi.org/

      6. Mr. X
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

        As we discuss this election, let’s not forget that Governor Snyder did stand up the radical right wing of his party and veto their attempts to institute a comprehensive voter suppression strategy. As much as we may dislike other things that he’s done, I think that warrants acknowledgement.

        Thanks, Rick.

        http://www.politicususa.com/michigans-gov-snyder-voter-suppression-strategy-repugnant.html

      7. Tommy
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the detail on Prop 3. The clarification of the extensions to the targets and the caps on rates is helpful.

        I was leaning toward no but now am in the yes camp. You did my homework for me.

      8. Meta
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        All you need to know about Prop 3, in my opinion, is that DTE and Consumers are investing tens of millions in stopping it. The following is from an August report by Mlive.

        Consumers Energy and DTE Energy contributed most of the money. Each gave more than $2.9 million, either directly or through a parent company or subsidiary. DTE also made nearly $200,000 in in-kind contributions and Consumers gave $81,000 in in-kind contributions.

        DTE and Consumers both used shareholder dollars to fund the campaign.

        “We expect the other side is going to mount a multimillion-dollar campaign and we joined the CARE coalition because we’re confident that the voters of Michigan will reject adding this expensive mandate to the constitution after they’ve got all the facts,” said Jeff Holyfield, spokesman for Consumers Energy.

        The utilities want to wait until after 2015, when a mandate of 10 percent renewable energy must be reached, said DTE spokesman John Austerberry.

        Read more:
        http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/07/consumers_energy_dte_energy_ea.html

      9. maryd
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        agreed

      10. Meta
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Also:


        GET REAL.

        Since when did Big Oil and Big Utility Companies care about something other than their massive profits?

        The answer is NEVER.

        This election cycle, Big Oil and Energy Companies say they want to protect Michigan’s Constitution, but it’s just a ploy to confuse voters into maintaining the status quo. These are the same folks who keep hiking up our rates by double digits and gouging us at the gas pump.

        In Michigan we get nearly 60 percent of our electricity from coal, all of which is imported from other states. It’s a cash cow for corporate special interests, but it costs Michigan families $1.7 billion each year.

        Big Oil and Energy Companies want to keep us addicted to imported coal and foreign oil.

        We can stand up to them by Voting Yes on Proposal 3.

        Supporting Proposal 3 will increase Michigan’s use of clean, renewable energy, like wind and solar.

        A study by Michigan State University concluded Proposal 3 will create 94,000 Michigan jobs that can’t be outsourced and spark $10.3 billion in new investment for our state.

        Don’t let Big Oil and Energy Companies get away with their lies about Michigan’s Constitution.

        The Legislature won’t act because they have sold out to the big oil and energy companies, DTE and Consumers Energy.
        When the Legislature has failed before, the people of Michigan have changed the constitution to do things like cap property taxes for homeowners.
        In all, Michigan voters have amended the Constitution 32 times since 1963
        Please VOTE YES on Proposal 3 on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

        Sincerely,

        Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs

        Paid for with regulated funds by Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs, PO Box 873, East Lansing, MI 48826

      11. Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        I’m with you on 1, 2, 5, and 6, but I’m on the fence on 3 and 4. What’s your rebuttal to those who argue that those might be good laws but don’t belong in the state constitution?

      12. Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        I don’t think that 3 will pass, but if it gets a significant amount of support it sends a message. I’ll be voting yes under the assumption that it will fail.

        That’s meaningful in itself.

      13. Eel
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        One of my favorite factoids from the Prop 3 campaign.

        Renewable energy currently accounts for just 3.6 percent of the energy used in Michigan. As a comparison, Iowa already gets 23 percent of its electricity from renewables. (Source: Energy Information Administration)

        http://mienergymijobs.com/GettheFacts/Facts

      14. Murf
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        And let’s not forget the other big local issue that will be on the ballot – the merging (or not) of Ypsilanti Public Schools with Willow Run.

      15. DA
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        While it’s true that 30 other states have alternative energy mandates, like the one outlined in Prop 3, it’s my understanding that Michigan’s would be the fist written into the state’s constitution. While I agree with the mandate, and like the points that have been outlined, I’m curious as to why this needs to be written into our constitution. Could someone please explain?

      16. Mr. Y
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        I can’t speak to why it was decided that a constitutional amendment was necessary for the 25% by 2025 mandate, but, having recently read over the state constitution, I can tell you that it’s far from being a pristine document. When Republicans argue that it needs to be protected, and that amendments are unnecessary, I find it completely disingenuous. It’s already 60 pages long, and contains about dozens and dozens of amendments.

        http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28ibjh4zns4gclliuj243sfr55%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=publications

      17. Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        Well, they would argue that that is precisely the reason that more amendments are unnecessary.

      18. Meta
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Here, according to the individuals behind Proposition 3, is why they aren’t going the legislative route, but advocating for an amendment instead.

        Utility companies are deeply entrenched with members of both political parties, which means the legislative route is not an option.

        Putting 25 by 2025 in the Michigan Constitution means powerful utilities cannot use their political influence to sway the Legislature and bypass consumer protection measures, such as the measure explicitly stating utilities cannot raise electricity prices related to the cost of generating renewable energy by any more than 1 percent on any given year.

        The Michigan Constitution has been amended more than 30 times since the last constitutional convention in the 1960s, for everything from setting tax rates and the minimum drinking age to stem cell research.

        Michigan voters always have the final say.

        Read more:
        http://mienergymijobs.com/GettheFacts/FAQs

      19. Meta
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Polling seems to indicate that Proposal 1 will fail.

        From the Free Press.

        Michigan’s controversial emergency manager law appears to be in trouble with 43% of Michigan voters ready to scrap it in a referendum on Tuesday’s ballot and just 35% wanting to keep it, a Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) poll shows.

        Another 18% remain undecided on the measure, which has been used to install state managers in the Detroit Public School system as well as Pontiac, Allen Park and other financially struggling communities. The law also allowed state intervention to help the city of Detroit to manage its finances.

        Read more:
        http://www.freep.com/article/20121101/NEWS15/121101058/michigan-emergency-manager-law-poll?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

      20. Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        This is inaccurate:

        “Another 18% remain undecided on the measure, which has been used to install state managers in the Detroit Public School system as well as Pontiac, Allen Park and other financially struggling communities.”

        The EM of the DPS was appointed under Granholm using the 1990 law, not the expanded version that we’re voting on. Correct me if I’m wrong and if there is some nuance that I’m missing here.

      21. Jim
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        Thanks for your recommendations, Mark–I agree with you on all 6.

        The full text of all six measures–and not just the ballot summaries–can be found here:
        http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1633_41221—,00.html

      22. Alice Krum
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        According to Business Week, Matty M make over $156,000 a day from the bridge.

        “The Ambassador Bridge was built in 1929 by a New York financier and bought for $30 million by Moroun in 1979. Painted a striking blue, the four-lane, 7,490-foot-long steel span is suspended 152 feet above the Detroit River and connects the city to Windsor in Ontario, Canada. It’s the busiest commercial crossing in North America. Twenty-five percent of U.S.-Canada truck freight moves across the bridge, some $82 billion worth of goods every year. That’s more than the U.S. exports to Germany or Japan.

        All of that stuff is loaded onto the 7,100 trucks that travel the Ambassador Bridge each day. The average toll for the trucks is $15 and cars pay $4, giving Moroun’s family business, the Detroit International Bridge Co., a rough daily take of $156,000.”

        http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-03/matty-moroun-detroits-border-baron

      23. Anne
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        As a local consulting company that does biz development work for clean tech companies I would love to see Proposal 3 pass so that we could re-focus our office’s work on establishing companies in Michigan instead of pushing them to commercialize in Ohio. Our office has a long history of economic development work with cities in SE Michigan and has tried to work closely with these cities to help establish these businesses in Michigan. While we get a lot of support at the local level, there isn’t much assistance at the State level so we keep finding ourselves encouraging these businesses to set up in Ohio, which thanks to their energy initiatives, is much more receptive and supportive of these types of projects.

        A couple of other notes about 3 – Our State energy providers are in the position of having to retire many of the outdated energy plants and will need to spend capital on new energy projects regardless of 3 passing or not. The investment needed for “clean” coal (whatever that is) and problem-riddled nuclear will actually be much more expensive than renewables. So Prop 3 wont be forcing them into unplanned capital expenditures, but is instead telling them where to spend the capital that was already earmarked for future energy projects.

        Also, wanted to clarify that the 1% cap on energy bill increases applies only to the aspects of implementing 25X25. Regardless of whether or not 3 passes you should expect your energy bill to go up by more than 1% each year – energy is going to continue to get more expensive.

      24. Posted November 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        I’m uncomfortable with 4 — not because I disagree with its goals, but because it would add or remove about 3 pages worth of text to the constitution. That many words offers a lot of chances to get things wrong. (A la the bridge amendment’s poor wording that would cause it to cover every bridge in the state — we wouldn’t be able to rebuild Cross Street or Mich Ave bridges without a statewide referendum.)

        I like 3 and I’m fine with it being a “constitution grade” issue. I think renewable, clean energy produced in the state is a good, self-reliant value, and the proposal offers enough pressure valves to prevent harm in the case of unforseen circumstances.

      25. josh
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        If you vote yes on 6 you are either a fucking moron or a fucking Moroun.

      26. site admin
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the clarification on Prop 3, Anne. The post has been modified to reflect that the 1% annual limit rate increases only pertains to items directly attributable to the 25×25 legislation.

      27. Mr. Y
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        I’m still pissed that the Michigan Democratic Party didn’t endorse Proposal 3. I was already pissed at the state party, but that pushed me over the line.

        Lots of good Dems support the legislation, though, including Bill Clinton, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and the following.

        United Auto Workers (UAW)
        International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE)
        Service Employees International Union Michigan State Council (SEIU)
        Former U.S. Rep. David Bonior
        The Michigan Nurses Association
        Michigan Education Association (MEA)
        Michigan AFSCME Council 25
        American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
        Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)
        Communications Workers of America District 4 (CWA)
        Sheet Metal Workers International Association Locals 292 and 80 (SMWIA)
        United Steelworkers District 2 (USW)
        United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 876 and 951 (UFCW)
        Sierra Club
        Clean Water Action
        Michigan League of Conservation Voters
        National Wildlife Federation
        Macomb County Democratic Committee
        Oakland County Democratic Party
        Washtenaw County Democratic Party
        Ingham County Democratic Party
        Kalamazoo County Democratic Party
        Muskegon County Democratic Party
        Oceana County Democratic Party
        Cheboygan County Democratic Party
        Ottawa County Democratic Party
        Ann Arbor Democratic Party
        Troy Democratic Club
        Northville Democratic Club
        Plymouth Democratic Club
        North Oakland Democratic Club
        Royal Oak Democratic Club
        Michigan State University College Democrats

      28. Susan Cybulski
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Did you see this Huffington Post article about Proposal 3? Maybe 25×25 is not such a good idea after all…

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-gibbs/post_4087_b_2073600.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=3670212,b=facebook

        “In Michigan right now ballot Proposal 3 known as “25 x 25″ would require our state to get 25% of its electricity from “renewable” sources by the year 2025. “25 x 25″ is being sold as all about solar panels and wind mills. It’s not. Far more than anyone suspects, it’s going to ramp up the dirtiest form of energy of all: biomass burning. Incinerating trees in the name of “green energy.” And it must be stopped if we care about climate change, clean air and thriving forests.”

      29. Stewart
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        I’m with Governor Synder.
        Prop 1 Yes
        Prop 2 No
        Prop 3 No
        Prop 4 No
        Prop 5 No
        Prop 6 No
        Hands of our constitution !!!

      30. Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        So, Stewart, is it just “liberal” amendments that you’re against, or do you want to roll back conservative amendments as well, like the Headlee Amendment? How far do you want to take this “hands off our constitution” stand of yours?

      31. Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Susan. I admittedly don’t know much about biomass. I have to imagine it would be cleaner than the coal that we’re burning now, but it definitely warrants more research. I’ll try to look into it tonight.

      32. Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        And, Robert, I’m not sure yet if I’m going to live-blog the election. I may travel out to Novi to attend what I hope will be Syed Taj’s victory party. I haven’t made up my mind yet. If you want to send me updates, though, as in previous years, I’ll try to post them. I always enjoy your election analysis.

      33. Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        “Hands of our constitution !!!”

        I didn’t realize the Constitution had hands.

      34. SparkleMotion
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        After careful consideration I have decided to vote No on 3. The thing that bugs me, that I can’t get over, is that it allows the use of biomass. Assuming that energy companies are bastards, I fear they will leverage this into using wood burning and municipal solid waste as the majority of their 25%, undermining any perceived environmental benefit that is the intent of this proposal. In effect, I fear that I would be voting to allow an incinerator to be built in my neighborhood. If you disagree, that’s ok – make sure two of you go out and vote. I think that we can all agree that with the gravity of this year’s presidential election and local proposals, it’s best if we can get the maximum amount of voices involved regardless of affiliation.

      35. Anne
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        There is indeed some controversy about biomass because there is a whole slew of technologies that fit within this category. Some are these are great technologies while others are just a “green washing” of incineration techniques that emit their own harmful pollutants including green house gases. This was definitely one of the more controversial parts of the proposal for clean energy folks. However, the article that Susan linked to is pretty misleading and incorrect on a lot of points.
        Biomass is usually define

      36. Anne
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        ergh..hit enter too soon.

        Biomass is usually defined as waste product being converted into energy. Woody scraps are just one possible fuel stock for biomass plants and not necessarily one of the more common ones. These plants usually use wood chip waste from mills (if you’ve ever been to a mill you will see that there is a lot of wood waste that has very little value) or possibly your old Christmas tree. Other biomass projects include landfill methane or methane from animal waste. Methane is much cleaner than coal. Other projects include converting hydrocarbon based waste into synthetic gas, oil, and other usable bi-products. These projects can take items such as tires, plastics, shingles, and auto fluff (many of which are currently land-filled) out of the waste stream and turn them into energy. Once again some of these techniques of doing so are better than others. Some release their own levels of toxins that if not properly scrubbed, have their own potential to damage the environment and human health. So perhaps there is the potential for some bad projects to slip into there under the cover of “biomass”, but on the whole the energy production created through 25 X 25 will be cleaner than that under the status quo.

        And I also have to say that these are not some big Ag. folks that drove this proposal. It was a former mayor of East Lansing, folks that were Energy Advisers under Granholm, State Rep. Barb Byrum, and a lot of folks involved in energy work around the state.

      37. Sparklemotion
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for articulating why i will be voting no. The proposal as I am aware doesn’t provide funding for “projects”. What it does allow is burning biomass.

      38. Andrew Jason Clock
        Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        No last minute words on the charter or the Lowest Enforcement Priority for Marijuana measure in Ypsi?

      39. The Real Real McCoy
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

        Couldn’t agree more Jason…where is the marijuana measure discussion?

      40. Meta
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        The Union of Concerned Scientists has weighed in on Prop 3.

        On Tuesday, November 6, exercise the power granted to you by Michigan’s Constitution to choose a clean energy future for your state:

        Vote “Yes” on Proposal 3.

        Proposal 3 will require that 25 percent of Michigan’s electricity comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and biomass, by 2025.

        Big utilities have teamed up with coal and oil industry opponents of clean energy to dump more than $24 million into a last ditch effort to derail Proposal 3, but we have the power of the people on our side:

        Voter supported: More than half a million people signed petitions to put clean energy on the ballot in Michigan, making Prop 3 a truly voter powered initiative.

        The experts agree: More than 200 Michigan scientists, engineers, economists, and technical and health professionals agree that achieving the goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 is good for Michigan’s economy, environment, and health.

        Energizing the business community: Prop 3 is endorsed by more than 250 businesses in Michigan who support using more clean energy to create jobs, control long-term electric rates, and spark new investment in the state’s economy.

        A matter of faith: Religious leaders across the state support Prop 3 as a commitment to caring for those suffering from the ill health effects of living downwind from outdated and polluting coal fired power plants, and to the health and welfare of future generations.
        “All political power is inherent in the people.”—Article 1, Section 1 of the Michigan Constitution

        Michigan’s 1963 Constitution grants voters the power to use the ballot to enact any law the state legislature can enact, a fact affirmed by a recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling, including energy policy and laws that, like Prop 3, protect public health and natural resources from pollution.

        The big utilities and oil and coal companies who oppose Prop 3 may have their own plan for Michigan’s energy future, but they are not sharing it with voters—and that is truly scary.

        Get out and vote on Election Day and choose your own energy future, just as the framers of Michigan’s Constitution trusted you to do. Vote “Yes” on Prop 3!

      41. Anne
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        It’s unlikely that the majority or even a large percentage of projects resulting from 3 will be be biomass because biomass projects do not generally produce the amount of energy required to meet these needs in a cost effective manner. The biggest bang for the buck is wind which is likely where a lot of utilities would put their investment. Proposal 3 will result in funding for these clean tech projects because of a shift in investment by utilities as well as tax incentives for projects to meet these goals. This would be similar to all the investment going on currently in Ohio. As I mentioned, there are with a doubt some bad biomass projects out there, but there are some really great ones too. I’m currently working with a client with a technology that microwaves tires and down the line, other hydrocarbon based waste, in synthetic oil and gas which is later turned into electricity. It does so with out releasing toxins. Currently, tires are burned along with coal by utilities in our State. Definitely not a clean way to re-use tires.
        My company has been working to establish this company and a plant here in Michigan. However, since most biomass projects don’t qualify for Renewable Energy Credits (RECS) in our State, and our REC market is nonexistent anyway since we don’t have enough of a demand for renewable energy. These RECs are really important for the uptick in renewable energy in the North-East, California, Ohio, etc… because they operate as important incentives and create a market force for renewable energy. So this is one of the companies that we are instead advising to establishing in Ohio where they can take advantage of these market forces. If 25×25 passes today than that story changes dramatically. We will once again have a market for renewables in this state. I work with a lot of folks in the renewable energy sector and many of them have been considering leaving Michigan because of a lack of a REC program here.

      42. You need to see this
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Matty Moroum may have billions, but we have spray paint.

        http://i.imgur.com/r2PYd.jpg

      43. kjc
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        CounterPunch on Michigan’s Proposal 3:

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/06/the-truth-behind-michigans-proposal-3/

      44. anonymous
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        kjc, it turns out this is misguided propaganda.

      45. kjc
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        anon: well some might say that about everything on Counterpunch…haha. i’m not one. but send me more info. i’m just reading a bunch of stuff on the issue.

      46. anonymous
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        no, counterpunch is like the bible (better, actually). but that stuff appeared at HuffPo as well, and it turns out that if 3 passes, it’s possible only a very small percentage of the renewal energy would come from biomass, and biomass isn’t just clearcut forests.

      47. KKT
        Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        I have a petition for you all to sign.

        Here are the details.

        On November 6, Michiganders in 77 of our 83 counties voted to repeal the Emergency Manager Law, an anti-democratic measure that gave unelected bureaucrats dictatorial powers over our school districts.

        Not one month later, Governor Rick Snyder and the extremist-controlled Michigan Legislature are attempting to circumvent the will of the people by passing new legislation that is every bit as unconstitutional and vile as the law the people just rejected. The proposed bill, HB 6004 “Education Achievement Authority,” violates our state constitution and will again substitute bureaucrats for local, duly elected representatives of the people.

        We need to tell Governor Snyder and the Michigan Legislature to vote NO on any legislation that attempts to circumvent the will of citizens who voted to repeal PA 4, the Emergency Manager Law.

        Here’s what the petition says:

        “Do not continue to promote the passage of HB 6004 or any other legislation that replaces locally-elected representatives of the people with unelected state-appointed bureaucrats. We do not want the education of our children privatized and our tax dollars and local school buildings turned over to for-profit corporations.”

        Sign it:

        http://signon.org/sign/stop-the-takeover-of-1

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