Michigan Constitutional Convention, Proposal 1 (2010)
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Section 3 of Article XII of the Michigan Constitution mandates that Michigan's voters be asked every sixteen years whether they want a constitutional convention. The last time the question was asked was in 1994, when voters rejected Proposal A by 28%-72%. 76.7% of voters similarly rejected the idea of calling a convention in 1978.
Supporters of the Proposal 1 argue that it is time to "modernize" the Michigan Constitution and a constitutional convention would offer the opportunity to do so. Among supporters, the measure is supported by state Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Sen. Tom George announced in June that he already has six bills pending should the proposed convention be approved by voters.
- Gov. Jennifer Granholm supports a constitutional convention. In early June the governor said voters should vote "yes" on November 2nd. Granholm argues that the state's current government is based on a manufacturing-based economic model, a model that she says no longer exists. The convention, she said, would provide for an opportunity to modernize the Michigan Constitution.
- Sen. Tom George announced on June 2 that he planned to introduce approximately six bills should voters approve the November measure. According to George the bills would establish eligibility requirements and election dates for delegates and create campaign finance rules to limit the influence of special interests in delegate elections.
- In anticipation of opposition by the Michigan Republican Party, some Republican leaders formed a group in support of Proposal 1. The group, Reinvent Michigan Caucus, is chaired by Sen. Tom George. "Michigan's 21st century challenges require 21st century solutions. A constitutional convention allows us to wipe the slate clean and start anew," said George.
Some opponents of a "yes" vote on the constitutional convention question have come together into a group called "Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution". Opponents of the automatic ballot referral argue that a "yes" vote would allow for special interests to play too large of a role in re-writing the state constitution.
- Joseph G. Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, argues that a constitutional convention won't fix Michigan's problems, as argued by proponents. "Michigan has serious problems, but they should be fixed without a constitutional convention. The problem with Michigan government isn't so much what's under the hood, it's what we're letting the driver get away with. If your teenage driver is irresponsible, no mechanic can change that. Instead, you need better control and accountability of the driver," said Lehman.
- Rich Studley, CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, argues that the state's deficit and the status of the economy is reason enough to reject the proposed measure. According to Studley, the chamber of commerce is currently working with business, labor and service groups to oppose the proposed constitutional convention.
- Opponents said that although there is no doubt that the government needs structural changes, such changes can be made through executive order or legislation on a case-by-case basis. Andy Johnston, director of legislative affairs at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, said that the uncertainty of a constitutional convention could potentially scare away businesses. "It certainly isn’t what businesses like, especially those looking to make an investment in Michigan," said Johnston.
- The Holland Sentinel is opposed to Proposal 1. In an editorial, the board said, "...in our view Michigan’s problems don’t stem from poorly written rules but from the irresponsibility of too many of the officials we elect to serve in Lansing. We need better players more than new rules, and it’s up to voters to do that. Sure, we’d like to see changes to the state constitution, but they can be added one at a time through the amendment process...A new constitution won’t cure what ails Michigan government — it may even harm the patient. We urge voters to say 'no' to Proposal 1."
- The Detroit News opposes the proposed measure. In an editorial, the board said, "Well-focused constitutional amendments are a better way to update the Constitution or deal with any problems that may arise than creating a whole new document. This is an era in which various interest groups are focused on single issues, often to the detriment of the greater good. Many would want their issues enshrined in a new constitution, reducing the ability of state lawmakers to deal with problems as they occur. This is a risk the state does not need now. Vote No on Proposal 1.
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- An August 9-10, 2010 poll, conducted by Glengariff Group and sponsored by Detroit News-WDIV, revealed that of 600 polled Michigan voters 46% supported the proposed constitutional convention, while 32% were opposed and 26% were undecided. The poll was conducted via telephone and is reported to have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
- An August 21-23, 2010 poll, conducted by EPIC-MRA, revealed that 43% of polled voters would vote "no" on Proposal 1, while 35% said they would vote "yes" and 24% remained undecided. A total of 600 registered voters were polled. According to reports, the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|August 9-10, 2010||Glengariff Group Inc.||46%||32%||26%||600|
|August 21-23, 2010||EPIC-MRA||35%||43%||24%||600|
|Oct. 20-25, 2010||EPIC-MRA||31%||57%||12%||600|
Path to the ballot
Constitutional convention ballot propositions are a form of automatic ballot referral in some states whose constitutions state that every so often, a statewide ballot proposition must be placed on the general election ballot asking the voters of the state if they wish to have a constitutional convention. In Michigan, the measure appears on the ballot at 16-year intervals.
- Constitutional convention questions on the 2010 ballot
- Constitutional convention questions on the Michigan ballot
- Lansing State Journal,"Byrum: Constitutional Convention would put end to our progress," September 26, 2010
- Detroit Free Press,"Logie/Watkins: The 1963 Constitution has grown ineffective," September 26, 2010
- Detroit Free Press,"Michigan needs constitutional convention," August 13, 2010
- The Detroit News,"Michigan constitutional convention up for vote," February 1, 2010
- Detroit News, "Coalition forms to fight Mich. constitutional convention", June 15, 2010
- Michigan Radio,"Gov. Granholm Supports Rewriting Michigan's Constitution," June 3, 2010
- Associated Press,"Michigan constitutional convention bills develop," June 1, 2010
- Crain's Detroit Business,"Michigan GOP expected to duel over con-con at convention," August 25, 2010
- The Detroit News,"GOP group fights party's bid to block constitutional convention," August 25, 2010
- WLNS, "Coalition opposes state Constitutional Convention", June 14, 2010
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy,"Constitutional Convention Won’t Fix Michigan’s Problems," April 13, 2010
- MichiganLive.com,"Coalition forming to oppose ballot proposal for state constitutional convention," June 9, 2010
- The Holland Sentinel,"OUR VIEW — A constitutional convention won’t cure what ails Michigan," September 20, 2010
- The Detroit News,"Editorial: Mich. voters should avoid the disruption of a constitutional convention," September 26, 2010
- The Detroit News,"Michigan general election survey results," August 11, 2010
- The Detroit News,"Poll: Backing for state constitutional convention looks iffy," August 12, 2010
- The Detroit News,"Early support for constitutional convention may not last," August 11, 2010
- Associated Press,"Proposal to redo Mich. constitution trails in poll," August 27, 2010
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