Mich. ballot issues address referendums, fracking

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm •  Published: February 15, 2013
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The most recent referendum vote in Michigan was in November, when voters repealed a 2011 emergency manager law that gave the state more power in financially strapped cities and schools. A subsequent version of the law passed by Republicans and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in December included a $5.8 million appropriation to cover emergency manager salaries, staffing, implementation and education costs.

Supporters say the spending is legitimate because local governments complained about having to pay manager salaries. The right-to-work law that bans requiring union dues or fees as a condition of employment includes a $2 million appropriation for extra staff and resources needed to implement the law and educate employers, employees and unions.

The other petition approved Friday involves hydraulic fracturing, a technique used by the energy industry to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals.

Opponents who want to prohibit the technique, commonly known as fracking, fell well short of the signatures needed for the 2012 ballot. This time, they are taking a route that requires fewer signatures.

"The 'ban fracking' movement is a worldwide movement," said LuAnne Kozma of Charlevoix. "In Michigan, we are leading it by citizens. It's not by the established groups that are out there that one might think are the environmental leaders of the state. We are a people's movement."

Last month, the state election board also approved a petition to be circulated by animal welfare activists upset about a new law that designates the gray wolf as a game animal.

Organizers of the wolf drive need at least 161,300 signatures to hold a referendum but have a goal of 225,000 in case some are ruled invalid.

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Email David Eggert at deggert(at)ap.org and follow him at http://twitter.com/DavidEggert00

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