Ohioans heading to the polls will decide just two low-key statewide
ballot issues, while Michigan electors will cast ballots for as
many as six statewide questions. What follows is a brief
Ohio Issue 1
Every 20 years, voters in Ohio are asked to convene a
constitutional convention to make possible changes to the state
Constitution. If voters agree to convene a convention, the Ohio
General Assembly will elect delegates and assemble such a
convention to consider possible state amendments. But any such
constitutional changes approved at such a convention still must
pass muster with voters in a future election.
Ohio Issue 2
An Ohio Redistricting Amendment, also known as Issue 2, would
create a 12-person citizen commission to draw legislative and
congressional district maps. Supporters of the measure claim
such a commission would create districts that would better
reflect the state's geographic, racial, ethnic and political
diversity. The ballot initiative would also bar lobbyists and
elected officials from joining the commission.
The statewide issue came about after controversy surrounded the
redrawing of the lines for congressional and state Senate and
House districts following the 2010 Census. GOP leaders
controlled the process, forcing Democrats in the legislature to
cry foul over how some of the redistricting process went. For
example, the new Ninth congressional district is ribbon-thin,
running along the Lake Erie shoreline from portions of Toledo to
portions of Cleveland.
Such district maps are redrawn every ten years due to population
shifts. The group Voters First spearheaded the ballot
issue, claiming it gives citizens an opportunity to take back
the process from partisan politics. The group claims every
decade the party in control makes backroom deals out of the
public eye so they can rig the system in their favor.
Opponents have lined up against Issue 2 including the Ohio
Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the Ohio
Judicial Conference, and the Ohio Manufacturers Association.
Critics claim the ballot issue would create an unelected,
unaccountable, citizen commission with unlimited funds and its
members would be given the power to set their own salaries and
hire unlimited lawyers and political consultants.
12-01 Referendum on Public Act 4 of 2011, the Emergency Manager
If passed by voters, this referendum would keep in place a state
law first passed in 2011 granting Michigan’s governor the
authority to appoint an emergency manager of a local city
government or school district in a fiscal crisis. The law also
lays out criteria state officials follow in declaring such a
The emergency manager would be allowed to act in place of the
local government’s governing body and chief administrative
officer. The emergency manager would be required
to develop a financial plan and issue orders to resolve the
financial emergency, including modification or termination of
contracts and collective bargaining agreements. The emergency
manager also would be authorized to,
under certain conditions, sell city assets or make major
changes to departments and staffing.
Supporters contend that appointing emergency managers is a
temporary measure necessary to steer a local unit toward more
stable financial waters. Cities and school districts deemed to
need emergency management often have had years of fiscal
mismanagement that has resulted in the financial crisis, making
such a law necessary. Critics, on the other hand, claim that
emergency management does not work -- the forces that led to
the emergency in the first place are deeply rooted and not
subject to a quick fix. Critics cite reduced state revenue
sharing and declining property values as factors beyond the
reach of an emergency manager.
A ‘yes’ vote keeps the law
in place; while a ‘no’ vote repeals the state law.
12-02 Proposal to Amend the State Constitution Regarding
would give constitutional protection to the right of public and
private-sector employees to form unions and negotiate with their
employers their wages, hours and conditions of work with their
employers. The ballot issue also would invalidate any existing
or future state or local laws that limit collective bargaining,
and override state laws that
regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that
those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
Proposal 2 also states that it would not prohibit public employees
from striking, and protect an employee’s right to provide
financial support of their labor unions. The ballot proposal, in
sum, gives public employees many of the same protections already
granted private union workers under federal law.
Supporters claim recent laws enacted by the Michigan legislature
have eroded workers’ ability to negotiate working conditions and
compensation with their employers, such as making it more
difficult for teachers to achieve tenure and requiring state
workers to contribute 4 percent of their salary to remain in the
pension system. One of the other effects of a Proposal 2 passage
would be to prevent the legislature from enacting
“right-to-work” legislation — laws that make it illegal for
unions to require workers to financially support a union as a
condition of employment.
Opponents contend having the freedom to enact right-to-work
legislation makes Michigan more competitive and attractive to
industry and would bolster Michigan’s economy. Because Indiana
recently enacted right-to-work legislation, there’s concern new
employers would opt to locate plants there rather than Michigan.
Opponents further claim that a constitutional amendment is an
overreach of union power, could lead to uncontrolled wage
increases and lavish pensions at the expense of taxpayers, and
is divisive and unnecessary.
12-03 Proposal to Amend the State Constitution to Establish a
Standard for Renewable Energy
would amend the state constitution to require that 25 percent of
Michigan’s energy be generated by renewable sources by 2025, and
that facilities used to satisfy this standard be located in
Michigan or within the retail customer service territory of the
utility (which would include parts of Indiana and Ohio). In
addition, the proposal would require the legislature to pass
laws encouraging the employment of Michigan residents and of the
use of equipment made in Michigan in the production and
distribution of renewable energy.
The ballot proposal would limit yearly electric utility rate
increases to one percent to achieve compliance with the
renewable energy standard. The proposal implies that the 25
percent standard be implemented incrementally and allows for
annual extensions of such deadlines to meet the standard to
prevent rate increases over the one percent limit.
Supporters contend the proposal would have significant
economic benefits for Michigan. They argue the state could be a
leader in the alternative energy field because clean energy is
expected to be a growing market that will drive economic growth.
Opponents counter that not only are projected job numbers highly
inflated, but the ballot issue will create new jobs only
temporarily—and when new wind turbines and solar panels
installed, jobs likely will end, leaving Michigan workers out of
12-04 Proposal to Amend the State Constitution to Establish the
Michigan Quality Home Care Council and Provide Collective
Bargaining for In-Home Home Care Workers
Medicaid-eligible individuals who cannot care for themselves
currently may choose to hire a home health aide to assist them
with bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and administering
medications, among other tasks. These aides often are family
members who are paid, through state Medicaid dollars, a wage
that averages $8 per hour.
Medicaid-eligible seniors and the disabled who choose not to
hire a relative may turn to a state-managed registry for a list
of eligible home health aides. This registry is overseen by the
Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQ3C), which requires
workers to have passed a criminal background check.
Home health workers voted to unionize in 2005 and have union
dues withheld from their Medicaid-funded paychecks. A state law
passed earlier this year exempted them from public employee
status for the purposes of collective bargaining and eliminated
the withholding of union dues. A federal judge issued a
temporary injunction against enactment of the law through
Supporters contend Proposal 4 would rectify that situation, by
amending the constitution to, among other things,
allow in-home care workers to bargain
collectively with MQ3C, require the agency
to provide training for in-home care workers, create a registry of
workers who pass background checks, and provide financial
services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care.
The proposal also would preserve patients’ rights to hire in-home
care workers who are not referred from the MQHCC registry who
are bargaining unit members and authorize
MQ3C to set minimum compensation
standards and terms and conditions of employment.
Opponents call the proposal an attempt for a union to collect dues
from the almost 50,000 home care workers in Michigan and cite an
estimate that, since 2006, the SEIU collected more than $32
million in union dues that could have remained with home
healthcare workers. Opponents also take issue with home care
workers being defined as public employees and contend the issue
doesn’t rise in importance enough to be codified in the state
12-05 Proposal to Amend the State Constitution to Limit the
Enactment of New State Taxes by State Government
Proposal 5 would amend the state constitution to require a
two-thirds majority in both houses of the state legislature to
approve any new tax, increase a current tax or expand the tax
base; or to require such a tax increase to be approved by a
statewide vote of citizens at a November election. The ballot
language and the proposal’s placement in the constitution
likely mean it would apply only to state taxes (sales tax,
personal income and corporate income, and many others) and not
to local taxes.
Supporters contend the proposal would provide for taxpayer
protections. Proposal backers claim Michigan’s taxes already are
too high, and a low-tax environment could improve the business
climate in the state, leading to economic growth and benefits
for all Michigan residents. If it were more difficult for the
state to raise taxes, supporters believe businesses and
households would be more likely to stay in or relocate to
Michigan. Opponents counter that the proposal would create
gridlock in the legislature. Historically, very few measures are
passed with a supermajority vote. Furthermore, opponents argue
most tax reform frequently includes raising some taxes in order
to lower others.
12-06 12-06 Proposal to Amend the
State Constitution Regarding Construction of International
Bridges and Tunnels
Proposal 6 comes in response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to build a
new international trade crossing two miles south of the
Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. The debate centers on the
degree of power that state government should exercise over
commerce, trade and infrastructure. The proposal would require
the state to hold an election asking voters to approve a new
international crossing before state funds could be spent on any
part of it.
Supporters contend the proposal would give citizens a stronger
voice in public works expenditures. Requiring a vote of approval
for expensive bridge projects would ensure that people know how
the government is spending their tax dollars, and would prevent
politicians from approving an expensive bridge to serve their
own, rather than Michigan taxpayers,’ interests. The owners of
the Ambassador Bridge, the Moroun family, argue they have
successfully owned and operated the 83-year old Ambassador
Bridge without government intervention and the proposal would
hurt their business. They have plans to build a second, six-lane
span next to the current bridge to reduce truck congestion and
allow the original bridge to be improved when the time is right.
But the governor believes the ballot issue will not be able to undo
the current progress and a signed agreement between Michigan and
Canada to build a new international bridge connecting Detroit
and Windsor. The signed agreement contains specific language in
which Canada agrees to pay for the construction of the bridge,
even the portion built in Michigan, with private industry
contributing to the remainder of the cost.
Opponents of the proposed amendment also argue the current bridge
cannot handle the volume of truck traffic that crosses between
the two countries. Michigan’s manufacturing sector, especially,
depends on “just-in-time” delivery of parts to keep operations
running smoothly and minimize costs. They believe building a new
span would greatly reduce delays on the bridge.
A ‘yes’ vote sets in motion a statewide referendum on the
governor’s bridge proposal, while a ‘no’ vote keeps the signed
agreement in place without further interference.