The November 6, 2012, election will be one of the most extensive in Michigan history, particularly in Detroit. Not only will Detroit voters be choosing representative officials, they'll also be asked to decide on 18 ballot proposals. The two-page ballot contains six state proposals, five county issues, five city proposals, and two affecting education in public schools and at Wayne Community College. Here's a voter guide to understanding those proposals.
Michigan State Proposals
Proposal 12-1is a referendum on Michigan's Public Act 4 of 2011, the emergency manager law. Under PA 4, the state of Michigan may place paid managers in financially struggling cities. These managers have complete control over cities. A "no" vote on 12-1 would overturn PA 4; voting "yes" keeps PA 4 intact.
Proposal 12-2 gives employees in public and private workplaces the right to organize unions and bargain collectively. If passed, this law would override any local prohibitions or regulations on union participation.
Proposal 12-3 would make Michigan energy retailers provide 25 percent of their supply from renewable resources and cap rate increases at 1 percent. Proposal 3 would push energy providers to seek Michigan-made equipment and favor state residents in hiring.
Proposal 12-4 requires more training for in-home health care workers and enables them to bargain collectively as a group.
Proposal 12-5 amends Michigan's constitution so that state houses of Congress may not impose new taxes or raise current taxes without a two-thirds majority vote in both houses and a statewide popular vote.
Proposal 12-6 says that the State of Michigan must have voter approval before entering into any construction of a "new international bridge."
Wayne County Proposals -- Each Would Involve County Charter Amendments
The Budget and Appropriation Ordinance would place the Wayne County Commission, rather than the Wayne County executive, in charge of the form of budget and appropriations. It adds that any changes must be adopted 10 months prior to the new fiscal year.
The independent external auditor question asks whether the eight-year limitation on the independent external auditor should be lifted and if independent external auditors should be chosen by a competitive bidding process.
A yes on the Wayne County Retirement Commission question would extended the commission from eight to nine members. The Wayne County Airport Authority would be included on the commission.
The Wayne County executive would be subject to the same removal procedures as other county officials such as clerk, treasurer, and sheriff if the Removal of the Wayne County Executive From Office by the Governor question passes.
If the Power to Approve Compensation question passes, the Wayne County Commission's powers would be extended so as to approve compensation for each public employment position in the country (unless already covered by federal or state law).
City of Detroit Proposals
Proposals C, E, G, and P would amend the city's charter. Proposal C redefines how the corporation counsel would operate, allowing him to pursue judicial action on his own initiative. Proposal E establishes set minimum and maximum numbers on signatures needed for city elected officials. Proposal G would lift the ban on public officials accepting gifts and honorariums in the course of their work. Proposal P would overturn a ban disallowing former city officials and employees from lobbying the council or receiving compensation for services relating to their city employment.
Proposal M would amend the city code with an ordinance to legalize the possession and use of marijuana (1 ounce or less) on private property for persons over 21.
Proposal S would restore permission to Detroit schools to levy 18 mills on taxable non-homestead property. Owner-occupied homes are currently exempt. This would generate nearly $81 million for school use.
Voters will decide on a 1-mill increase for Wayne County Community College operating costs under the Wayne County Community College District Millage Proposal.
An educator, political activist, and lifelong Michigan native, Marilisa Sachteleben writes about issues in her state, particularly in its most pivotal city of Detroit.