LANSING — State Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren), members of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus and several allied organizations held a press conference this morning to unveil their plan to restore power back into the hands of the people of Michigan. Currently, any citizen-led ballot initiatives that meet the signature and timeline requirements are subject to the legislature for adoption, rejection or inaction. The proposed House Joint Resolution would curtail any legislative intervention in citizen-led ballot initiatives from even being presented to the Legislature and go directly on the ballot.
“When a voter signs a petition to add an initiative to the ballot, they are under the impression that’s what will happen. We are deceiving voters and taking away their right to vote on the initiative by allowing the legislature to adopt such initiative,” said state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), Chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus. “By passing this joint resolution we would restore the original intent of a citizen-led initiative and allowing voters to have their say at the ballot box.”
Last year, the Republican-led Legislature took the unprecedented step of subverting the will of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders by adopting and then amending 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. 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. This joint resolution would stop the Legislature from using this political maneuver again.
“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.”
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.
“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.