Michigan Supreme Court orders constitutional amendments on ballot

[JURIST] The Michigan Supreme Court [court website] on Wednesday ordered [opinion, PDF] three proposed constitutional amendments to appear on the ballot during the November election. The court's decision outlined four proposed amendments, approving three of them for general approval by the voters. The three approved measures include a union-backed measure to amend the state constitution to include a right to labor unionization and collective bargaining, a measure to require either a statewide majority vote or a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature to raise taxes, and a proposed amendment which would require a statewide majority vote before any new bridges could be built between Michigan and Canada. A proposed constitutional amendment which would have increased the number of casinos in the state was rejected as the court felt the text did not clearly indicate that it would lessen the authority of the state Liquor Control Commission. The most controversial of these measures was the "Protect Our Jobs" [advocacy website] initiative, which collected around 700,000 signatures—significantly more than required to put the proposal on the ballot—but faced difficulties when the Board of State Canvassers [official website] declined the measure before being overturned [JURIST report] by the Michigan Court of Appeals [official website].

Attempts to limit collective bargaining rights have been confronted with heavy opposition. Wisconsin faced a challenge against its legislation which limited the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. In July the Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] not to reopen a case challenging the state's Budget Repair Bill [text, PDF] because of a justice's refusal to recuse himself. Four votes were needed, but only three justices were in support of reopening the case. The court upheld [JURIST report] the bill in June 2011 thereby overruling the Dane County Circuit Court [official website] finding [JURIST report] a month earlier that legislators had violated the "open meetings" rule. The court ruled that the lower court had "invaded the legislature's constitutional powers." In March a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website] ruled unconstitutional [JURIST report] certain provisions of the Budget Repair Bill reasoning that unions which supported Governor Scott Walker [official website] during his election were apparently given preferential treatment. Last November Ohio voters rejected [JURIST report] a bill which would have impacted Ohio's 400,000 public workers by limiting their ability to strike and collectively bargain for health insurance and pensions.

 

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