Michigan Constitutional Convention, Proposal 1 (2010)

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A Michigan Constitutional Convention Question is on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot in Michigan as an automatic ballot referral.

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.[1] Voters similarly rejected the idea of calling a convention by 76.7% in 1978.

The current version of the Michigan Constitution was adopted in 1963. Since then, voters have approved 31 amendments.[2][3]

Support

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] According to her office, Granholm "believes the state of Michigan is dramatically different than it was in 1961, and we need a foundation document that reflects the 21st century. Having a constitutional convention would help set the stage for a streamlined government that moves Michigan forward in a comprehensive way." [1]

Opposition

A group dominated by registered lobbyists, unions and trade associations has formed Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution to oppose Proposal 1.[7] 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.[6]

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.[8]

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. According to Studley, the chamber of commerce is currently working with business, labor and service groups to oppose the proposed constitutional convention.[9]

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.[9]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Michigan ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Detroit Free Press supports Proposal 1. In an editorial, the board wrote, "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. If you can envision a different Legislature -- and who in Michigan can't these days -- you'll want to vote in favor of a constitutional convention."[10]
  • 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. A constitutional convention can start to tackle people’s frustrations with Michigan government at all levels. The public should support much-needed reform by voting yes on Proposal 1."[11]
  • The Midland Daily News supports 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."[12]
  • The Oakland Press supports the proposed constitutional convention. In an editorial, the board wrote,"A new constitution would give us a chance to fix some of the lingering problems in Lansing...Also, a constitutional convention could examine such innovative changes as a part-time legislature and revamping our tax structure to help attract business...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."[13]
  • The Blade endorsed Proposal 1, saying, "Michigan voters should try to fix what's clearly broken. The Blade urges a YES vote on Proposal 1, for a state constitutional convention."[14]

Opposition

  • 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."[15]
  • 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.[16]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

  • 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.[17][18][19]
  • 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%.[20]
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
Nevada 2010 ballot measuresUtah 2010 ballot measuresColorado Fetal Personhood, Amendment 62 (2010)New Mexico 2010 ballot measuresArizona 2010 ballot measuresMontana 2010 ballot measuresCalifornia 2010 ballot measuresOregon 2010 ballot measuresWashington 2010 ballot measuresIdaho 2010 ballot measuresOklahoma 2010 ballot measuresKansas 2010 ballot measuresNebraska 2010 ballot measuresSouth Dakota 2010 ballot measuresNorth Dakota 2010 ballot measuresIowa 2010 ballot measuresMissouri 2010 ballot measuresArkansas 2010 ballot measuresLouisiana 2010 ballot measuresAlabama 2010 ballot measuresGeorgia 2010 ballot measuresFlorida 2010 ballot measuresSouth Carolina 2010 ballot measuresIllinois 2010 ballot measuresTennessee 2010 ballot measuresNorth Carolina 2010 ballot measuresIndiana 2010 ballot measuresOhio 2010 ballot measuresMaine 2010 ballot measuresVirginia 2010 ballot measuresMaryland 2010 ballot measuresMaryland 2010 ballot measuresRhode Island 2010 ballot measuresRhode Island 2010 ballot measuresMassachusetts 2010 ballot measuresMichigan 2010 ballot measuresMichigan 2010 ballot measuresAlaska Parental Notification Initiative, Ballot Measure 2 (2010)Hawaii 2010 ballot measuresCertified, constitutional conventions, 2010 Map.png
See also: Automatic ballot referral, Amending the Michigan Constitution

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.

See also

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Similar measures

Articles

External links

Additional reading

Editorials

References

  1. The Detroit News,"Michigan constitutional convention up for vote," February 1, 2010
  2. Detroit News, "Coalition forms to fight Mich. constitutional convention", June 15, 2010
  3. Ionia Sentinel Standard,"Constitutional Question," October 6, 2010
  4. Associated Press,"Michigan constitutional convention bills develop," June 1, 2010
  5. The Detroit News,"GOP group fights party's bid to block constitutional convention," August 25, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Michigan Radio,"Gov. Granholm Supports Rewriting Michigan's Constitution," June 3, 2010
  7. WLNS, "Coalition opposes state Constitutional Convention", June 14, 2010
  8. Mackinac Center for Public Policy,"Constitutional Convention Won’t Fix Michigan’s Problems," April 13, 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 MichiganLive.com,"Coalition forming to oppose ballot proposal for state constitutional convention," June 9, 2010
  10. The Detroit Free Press,"Find ways to repair dysfunctional Legislature," September 30, 2010
  11. The Jackson Citizen Patriot,"Endorsement: Yes on Proposal 1," October 15, 2010
  12. Midland Daily News,"Our view: Need for constitutional convention clear, but ...," August 26, 2010
  13. The Oakland Press,"Editorial: Revised constitution could help Michigan," October 11, 2010
  14. The Blade,"Yes to 'Con-Con'," October 2, 2010
  15. The Holland Sentinel,"OUR VIEW — A constitutional convention won’t cure what ails Michigan," September 20, 2010
  16. The Detroit News,"Editorial: Mich. voters should avoid the disruption of a constitutional convention," September 26, 2010
  17. The Detroit News,"Michigan general election survey results," August 11, 2010
  18. The Detroit News,"Poll: Backing for state constitutional convention looks iffy," August 12, 2010
  19. The Detroit News,"Early support for constitutional convention may not last," August 11, 2010
  20. Associated Press,"Proposal to redo Mich. constitution trails in poll," August 27, 2010