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 percent to 72 percent. Voters similarly rejected the idea of calling a convention by 76.7% in 1978.
Supporters of Proposal 1, led by the Yes on Proposal 1 campaign committee, argue that it is time to modernize the Michigan Constitution and a constitutional convention would offer the opportunity to do so. They also highlight the fact that constitutional conventions are not unusual in Michigan; the state has had six since statehood with one on average every 33 years.
Senator Tom George introduced legislation that would handle the administrative and procedural elements of a constitutional convention, including the pay of delegates -- $1 a month, should Proposal 1 pass. As co-chairman of Yes on Proposal 1, George has been one of the leading voices in support of a constitutional convention. "Michigan's 21st century challenges require 21st century solutions. A constitutional convention allows us to wipe the slate clean and start anew," said George.
Governor Jennifer Granholm supports a constitutional convention. 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 constitutional convention, she said, would provide for an opportunity to modernize the Michigan Constitution.
A group dominated by registered lobbyists, unions and trade associations has formed Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution to oppose Proposal 1. 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, chief executive officer 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.
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.
Media editorial positions
The Detroit Free Press supports Proposal 1 and has been running weekly editorial and columns urging a yes vote. One of the newspaper's editorials stated, "opponents of a convention sometimes suggest that the Constitution can be fixed gradually, through the amendment process. But lawmakers will never propose any of the fixes themselves, and moneyed interest groups will not propose and fund campaigns for most of the needed changes because they’re happy with the current political landscape." 
The Jackson Citizen Patriot endorsed a constitutional convention, saying "this process can lead to a better, more nimble governmental structure to help job creation. It could make changes that consider the huge technological advances that have occurred since 1963. Before the process ends, companies looking to move to Michigan should be impressed by this state’s willingness to reinvent itself." 
The Midland Daily News was one of the first newspapers to proclaim its support of Proposal 1. An endorsement in August said, "The question is, after more than 45 years, is it time for another review of Michigan's constitution. The answer is an unequivocal yes." 
The Oakland Press published a lengthy endorsement that also refuted any of the arguments used by Proposal 1 opponents. Among the rebuttals was this, "Those against the convention seem to be saying they like things the way they are. That seems hard to believe with the state’s unemployment among the highest in the nation at 13.1 percent and the fact we’ve lost one million jobs this decade. If there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s business as usual. Voters need to remember that, yes, it will cost the state some money to have a constitutional convention but the potential for successful change is priceless." 
Proposal 1 has also been endorsed by The Blade, a Toledo newspaper that covers Michigan politics for its readers along the border. In its editorial, the newspaper said, "Michigan voters should try to fix what's clearly broken." 
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 conventions on the ballot in 2010|
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
- Yes on Proposal 1
- Ballot proposal status page
- Analysis of Proposal 1 by Citizens Research Council of Michigan
- The Grand Rapids Press,"What other states have done about constitutional conventions," October 10, 2010
- AnnArbor.com,"Ballot links: Michigan's Constitutional Convention, Proposal 1," October 5, 2010
- Associated Press,"Michigan news: Rules for revised constitution sought," April 1, 2010
- 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
- Ionia Sentinel Standard,"Constitutional Question," October 6, 2010
- Associated Press,"Michigan constitutional convention bills develop," June 1, 2010
- The Detroit News,"GOP group fights party's bid to block constitutional convention," August 25, 2010
- Michigan Radio,"Gov. Granholm Supports Rewriting Michigan's Constitution," June 3, 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
- 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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