(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan with the October 2011 John Lilburne Award for filing a lawsuit andcoming to the defense of Michigan citizens whose First Amendment petition rights were infringed upon by state and local government.
The tiny Kent county village of Sand Lake may vote itself out of existence Aug. 3. The reason? Some residents say they pay too much in taxes. The Grand Rapids Press reports on the situation, calling it a “civil war” and noting that the battle has been brewing for months. Residents submitted 56 signatures for disincorporation in December. Of those, 53 were certified by Nelson Township Clerk Laura Hoffman.
Facing declining property tax revenues, the city of Mt. Clemens — located in Macomb County — is expected to approve a ballot measure Monday night to increase property taxes, the Macomb Daily reports. The city, like most in the state, has been socked hard by a stagnant economy, record high unemployment and crashing property values. As a result, Mt. Clemens is facing nearly $1 million in deficits this budget year. Adding to the financial crisis is a 24 percent increase in employee health care costs — $800,000 for current employees and $1.4 million for retirees.
In what may be an indication of the limited reach and political muscle of the nascent anti-government, anti-tax Tea Party movement, voters in three municipalities and at least two school districts in west Michigan approved various tax increase initiatives. The Grand Rapids Press reports that residents in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming all voted to approve tax increases on themselves to support fire and police services. While voters in Holland’s school district and in the Kenowa Hills district approved millages to fund building and various expansions in those districts.
This week, a coalition made up of law enforcement, state lawmakers, and various anti-gambling groups launched a campaign to oppose a ballot initiative that would allow the creation of several new casinos in Michigan — including one in Benton Harbor. A group called Michigan Is Yours is behind the plan to open seven new casinos, and needs about 386-thousand signatures on its petitions to get the matter before voters in November. Benton Harbor Mayor Wilce Cooke is a supporter of the idea, and has said that the possibility of opening a casino locally would be at least worth studying.
The Saginaw News has a piece in which Saginaw Valley State University political science professor Robert W. Lane and several Saginaw-area officials claim Michiganders’ ability to recall elected officials is too powerful and should be weakened.
Roughly 200 people filled the Howell High School Freshman Campus cafeteria Monday to learn how to circulate petitions for a state constitutional amendment to opt out of the new federal health-care law. The meeting was hosted by the 912 Liberty Tea Party of Western Livingston County, and launched the petition drive by the Michigan Citizens for Healthcare Freedom. Michigan Citizens for Healthcare Freedom was spearheaded by Marion Township resident Wendy Day, also a Howell Public Schools Board of Education member and head of Common Sense in Government.
A group of activists, legislators and community leaders is launching a petition drive to put a measure on the ballot asking voters whether they want to exempt the state from the federal health care overhaul. State Rep. Tom McMillin was to be joined by Tea Party groups and others this afternoon at a kick-off in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak. Organizers have modeled a proposed amendment to the Michigan constitution on one that will be on Arizona’s ballot later this year.
Reform school spending first, then ask voters this summer to pay more for public education, if necessary, a leading House Democrat proposed Wednesday. House Education Committee Chairman Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, said at an education town hall meeting that plans are in the works to tie spending reforms in areas such as school employee retirement and health care to a ballot initiative in the August primary for a sales tax on services, a reduction in business tax breaks or other revenue measures.