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Who stands to gain or lose

October 18, 2012
The Daily News


The right to petition the government is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The right of referendum is in Michigan's constitution. So why, I wonder, did we see TV ads encouraging us to "just vote no" on all the proposals on the ballot. Ah, well, now we see.

There is at least one specific proposal that some want very badly to fail. They just didn't want to come right out and say so, for fear that we might question their motives. These proposals represent a very important part of participatory democracy. To blindly vote "no" on all questions without studying them is to fail in one's patriotic duty. You may not trust the TV ads to tell you the truth, and you may not trust me, either, but I will share with you nonetheless.

Proposal 1 - A big, fat, no, no, no. Michigan has had an emergency manager law for years. It worked just fine. In 2011, the legislature passed Public Act 4, a new law, which grants sweeping new powers to an unelected, unaccountable appointee to essentially become a dictator in any city or entity that has financial difficulties. This person has the power to dissolve a city council, a county commission, or a school board; to cancel any labor or purchasing contracts, and to sell any property of the entity he manages, even city-owned buildings, equipment, parks and recreation areas, all without a vote of the people. This is the most egregious power grab in the history of our state. Vote no, please.

Proposal 2 - Amends the constitution to protect the right of workers to organize for collective bargaining. Heavy money has campaigned against this because they are in position to turn Michigan into a right-to-work state. There is a concerted effort to instill fear in people, so they will not approve it, but Michigan has a long history of co-operation between labor and management for the good of all. Right-to-work laws will take away the ability for workers to have a voice in the workplace. We need this amendment to pass. Please vote yes.

Proposal 3. Would require electric utilities to provide 25 percent of the annual sales of electricity to be from renewable sources, and limits the increase in rates to not more than 1 percent per year to fund the change. We are already well on our way, but a greater effort will provide more work for Michigan's wind and solar industry. It just seems to me that it would be better to spend our energy money here in Michigan than send it to West Virginia for coal.

Proposal 4 - Amends the constitution to permit home-care workers to choose collective bargaining. It also mandates the creation of a central registry for home-care workers who have cleared a background check. Anyone who chooses may still hire caregivers who do not have background checks, but for those who are concerned about the safety of themselves or their loved ones, a central registry would be very helpful.

Proposal 5 - This proposal would require a 2/3 majority in both houses of the state legislature to raise or adjust taxes. This proposal would allow a few to stimy any effort to meet the financial needs of the state. If the economy takes a downturn, congress would only be able to deal with it by cutting education, health care etc. "Austerity only" measures tend to prolong a recession and decrease long-term growth. A simple majority now has the power to raise or re-apportion taxes, and there is no reason to change it. A yes vote on this is a guarantee of legislative gridlock.

Proposal 6 - Would forbid any new international bridges to be built without a vote of the people. And makes it retroactive to January 1, 2012. There is currently only one bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, the Ambassador. There is a tunnel, which does not allow trucks, and the privately-owned Ambassador bridge forces trucks to traverse Windsor's streets. There has been heavy advertising against this bridge because the family which owns the Ambassador bridge does not want the competition of the previously approved government owned bridge. Canada will pay for the bridge and the purchase of necessary properties, recouping the funds through tolls. Our federal taxes will only pay for the costs associated with construction of a customs plaza. Proposal 6 will not only put the kibosh on this jobs project, it will handcuff any future projects.

Each voter should look at the issues, who stands to gain or lose, and vote on each proposal according to his conscience.

Lola Johnson




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