WHY IT MATTERS: Michigan's ballot proposals

Associated Press Modified: November 3, 2012 at 8:16 am •  Published: November 3, 2012
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With or without passage of the initiative, the Citizens Research Council said it's likely the cost of electricity in the state will increase in the next dozen or so years because of aging facilities, federal regulations for coal plants and transportation costs that could rise.

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PROPOSAL 4:

This initiative would amend the state constitution to allow home health workers to unionize, give them limited collective bargaining rights and list them in a statewide registry.

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Where they stand:

Supporters of the Keep Home Care a Safe Choice proposal say the proposal will improve the quality of and access to care for the disabled.

Opponents say the measure's real purpose is to provide for collection of union dues from home health workers after GOP lawmakers outlawed that dues collection earlier this year.

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Why it matters:

The proposal is the most specifically tailored of three collective bargaining measures on the ballot: It affirms collective bargaining rights for about 42,000 home health care workers.

It's also a bid to counter the law passed earlier this year that spurred a lawsuit by Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan, which had been the bargaining unit for home health care aides before the law was enacted. A federal judge sided with the union and protected the contract until it expires in 2013.

The Citizens Research Council says the primary question for voters is whether such remedies should be enshrined in the state constitution or through a referendum on the state law, such as the one on the ballot pertaining to state-appointed emergency managers running struggling cities and schools.

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PROPOSAL 5:

This ballot initiative would amend the constitution to require a two-thirds vote of Michigan House and Senate lawmakers, or a statewide vote at a November election, to raise or enact state taxes. Approval by a majority of legislators currently is enough to raise taxes.

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Where they stand:

Supporters say requiring a two-thirds vote would stabilize the tax environment and foster agreement among legislators. The initiative has been shepherded by the Michigan Alliance for Prosperity and strongly supported by the National Federation of Independent Business, which has argued that an overwhelming need for higher taxes should be met with a corresponding level of bipartisan backing by the Legislature.

Critics argue enshrining the measure in the Michigan Constitution could create obstacles for future Legislatures, force cuts elsewhere and shift increases to fees or other charges. Snyder calls the measure bad policy that could affect the state's ability to manage its finances.

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Why it matters:

The so-called supermajority requirement would have affected a recent move by Snyder that's been largely applauded in the business community — not typically known as a pro-tax crowd. Snyder successfully sought to eliminate the Michigan Business Tax and replace it with a 6 percent corporate income tax that two-thirds of businesses don't have to pay.

According to the Citizens Research Council, the proposal would add a fifth tax and expenditure limitation the state constitution. The council says Michigan would join nine states with constitutional requirements for supermajority votes to enact tax increases of any type. The council also found policymakers often look to other revenue sources not subject to the provisions, raising fees and other levies to make up for their inability to raise state taxes.

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PROPOSAL 6:

This ballot issue requires voters to approve building any new border crossing to Canada. This constitutional amendment was introduced in response to the proposed construction of a Canadian-financed bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

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Where they stand:

The main proponent and patron of the proposal is Manuel "Matty" Moroun, private owner of the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor. Moroun, who has fiercely opposed the Canadian-financed span supported by Snyder, wants to add a span of his own and has spent millions on ads through a group called "The People Should Decide." He and his Detroit International Bridge Co. say a new government bridge will cost taxpayers down the road, and they were behind a petition drive that collected more than 600,000 signatures to get it on the ballot.

Voices against the proposal include Snyder, the state's four former living governors and the Detroit and Michigan chambers of commerce. Snyder bypassed the state Legislature and reached a deal in June with Canadian and U.S. officials on a new government bridge. Snyder has said that under the agreement, Michigan isn't on the hook for any bridge costs — which would be repaid to Canada through tolls collected on the Canadian side — and argues Moroun represents a special interest against the interests of 10 million state residents.

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Why it matters:

The ballot measure is the latest vehicle for a long-running battle over bridge plans. Both parties want a second bridge, but for different reasons and on different terms.

Moroun says his proposed six-lane span would both enhance and replace the aging Ambassador. Once the new bridge is built, the old one would be closed for refurbishment and then used to accommodate overflow traffic. He says that's sufficient, because cross-border traffic is down since 2000.

Backers of the Canadian-backed bridge say crossings have ticked upward as the economy has improved and will surge long-term. They say a bridge two miles away from the existing span is important to capitalize on trade between the United States and its largest trading partner, as well as relieve traffic congestion at that crossing.

A majority vote of the people on the proposal probably wouldn't settle the long-running dispute. The Citizens Research Council said it may not apply to the Canadian project because Michigan has no direct responsibility for constructing the bridge, and courts likely will have to settle issues over ambiguous language in the initiative if it's passed.

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