Stone, Allies Fight to Empower Michigan Voters
LANSING — State Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren), the Progressive Women’s Caucus, Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus and several allied organizations held a press conference this morning to unveil their plan to put power back into the hands of the people of Michigan. The proposed House Joint Resolution would prevent the Legislature from intervening in citizen-led ballot initiatives and allow eligible petitions to be presented directly for a statewide vote.
“Allowing the Legislature to exert its political will on the ballot initiative process undermines the core tenants of our democracy,” said Stone, who introduced the joint resolution. “The future of this state belongs to the people of Michigan and we must take action to ensure every resident has the opportunity to exercise their right to use their voice and their vote to write the next chapter of our shared story.”
Last year, the Republican-led Legislature took the unprecedented step of subverting the will of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders by adopting two ballot initiatives, MI Time to Care and One Fair Wage, preventing them from appearing on the ballot for a statewide vote, only to gut both measures in the final days of the lame duck session. This joint resolution would block the Legislature from using this maneuver again.
“By adopting only to amend the MI Time to Care and One Fair Wage ballot initiatives last year, the Republican-led Legislature stole from our people who were simply fighting for the Michigan values this state was built upon: fair wages and right to care for ourselves, and our loved ones, without risking our job or economic security,” said state Rep. Brian Elder (D-Bay City), chair of the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus. “My colleagues and I know that Michiganders deserve to have a powerful voice in the political process — and I think it’s time for us to listen to what they have to say.”
“This provision has only been used to circumvent the will of voters,” said state Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township). “ABC knew voters wouldn’t pass their proposal to repeal prevailing wage so they asked the Legislature to bail them out. Then the Legislature adopted the minimum wage and paid sick leave proposals so they could gut them in lame duck. No more lies and deception, let the people vote.”
There are now strong indications that Republicans are preparing to use the same tactic to restrict the rights of Michigan women to access vital reproductive care, by adopting two ballot initiatives and preventing them from reaching voters.
“As a state and as a country, we are significantly behind in family-friendly policies and lawmakers are meant to uphold the integrity of these policies, represent their constituents and enact laws voters want passed,” said Aisha Wells from Mothering Justice.
Representatives from Planned Parenthood, Mothering Justice, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Service Employees International Union and United Steelworkers also attended the press conference to show their support for the joint resolution.
“On behalf of the nearly half a million signatories on the original One Fair Wage and MI Time to Care ballot initiatives, and the over 1.2 million low wage hourly workers in this state, I want to thank Reps. Stone and Elder, the Progressive Women’s Caucus and the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus for their work on this joint resolution,” said Pete Vargas from Restaurants Opportunities Centers United. “We applaud all efforts that recognize that protecting the values of our democracy is far more important than petty partisan politics.”