August 5, 2014 ballot measure elections

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August 5, 2014

By Ryan Byrne & Margaret Koenig

Voters will have before them statewide ballot questions in Michigan and Missouri and local marijuana decriminalization measures in two Michigan cities on August 5, 2014.

Statewide measures



“What do you do when a ballot question requires a week’s worth of study and analysis to understand[?],” asked Laura Berman of The Detroit News in reference to Michigan Proposal 1. Kelly Rossman-McKinney, spokesperson for the campaign organization supporting the proposal, offered an answer, "If you’re confused, you should probably not weigh in on that issue."[1] Nonetheless, Rossman-McKinney's Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities is attempting to clarify the issue for voters through a well-funded campaign. Backed by the Michigan Manufacturers Association, Ford, General Motors and Dow Chemical, Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities has raised $8,498,328 in contributions, despite having no organized opposition.[2]

The measure, while complicated, can be summarized as (1) phasing out the personal property tax (PPT) on industrial and commercial personal property, (2) reallocating some state use tax revenue to local governments who lose money without the PPT, (3) establishing an authority to administer and allocate the use tax revenue to local governments and (4) levying an essential services assessment (ESA) on industrial property to replace some of the revenue the state government would lose from giving use tax revenue to local governments.[3][4]

Proposal 1's ballot language, however, says nothing about the PPT or the ESA. This is because the proposal is technically Public Act 80 of 2014, but it also activates 10 other statutes. If defeated, Proposal 1 will not take effect, and all related legislation will be repealed.[4]



Missouri's five measures address a wide range of topics, including agriculture, firearms, taxes, the lottery and civil rights. The most contentious measure is Amendment 1, also known as the "Right-to-Farm" amendment. If approved by voters, the measure would explicitly guarantee farmers and ranchers the right to engage in their livelihoods and produce food for others. What exactly that means, however, has been a point of debate in the Missouri agricultural community.[5][6]

Supporters argue that all farmers and ranchers need protections due to out-of-state interests in restricting certain practices. Opponents have countered that the amendment will actually provide protections to large corporate and multinational agribusiness, and it will, in fact, make it harder for family farmers and ranchers to protect themselves from business interests. Amendment 1's broadly written language makes postulating possible outcomes difficult. If passed, it is likely that what the "right-to-farm" means in Missouri will be decided in the courts.[7] The right-to-farm is currently protected from nuisance suits by Section 537.295 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. The other statewide measures up for a vote include:

Governor Jay Nixon (D), who has explicitly expressed his opposition toward at least two of the five amendments - Amendments 1 and 7 - placed the five legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the August 5 primary ballot, leaving three others to be decided in November.[8][9][10] Media endorsements have largely opposed Amendments 1, 5 and 8, while the remaining two measures have received mixed responses.

Local measures

Stay tuned to Ballotpedia throughout the night for election results, as they become available.

The first two of 18 local measures in Michigan to decriminalize marijuana will be decided on August 5, 2014. The attempts are being organized by the Safer Michigan Coalition, which has succeeded in passing 14 local marijuana measures since 2004. One is on the ballot in Hazel Park and the other in Oak Park.

Tim Beck, co-founder of the Safer Michigan Coalition, said, “Our goal is to create confusion and chaos between state and local laws so our legislators in Lansing with step up to the plate [sic] and do the will of the people. Ultimately there needs to be marijuana legalization like they have in Colorado, where it is legal and regulated.”[11]

Up North Live, "Marijuana activists working towards legalization in Michigan," January 30, 2014

Supporters of decriminalization argue that possession and use of small amounts of marijuana by consenting adults should not be illegal because it is not harmful and laws against it are not enforceable. They also argue that law enforcement should focus on more dangerous crimes and that any attempt to enforce marijuana prohibition is a waste of time. Beck said, "Its [sic] time for law enforcement and the court system to start dealing with real crime, with real victims; not harassing consenting adults for something that should not be a crime in the first place."[12]

Opponents argue that the wave of local decriminalization measures showing up across Michigan is futile, impotent and symbolic at best since the measures contradict state and federal laws outlawing marijuana. Many opponents argue that the energy and money put into these petitions could be put to better use for the communities in which the initiatives were proposed.[13]

Many opponents of the initiative expect law enforcement officials to continue making arrests under state law despite approved local decriminalization initiatives. In Flint, one of the five cities in which decriminalization and marijuana related measures were approved in 2012, law enforcement officials said that the vote was merely symbolic as police officers would continue to arrest marijuana users under state law.[14]

See also