Senate Dems champion resolution to prohibit legislative bait-and-switch

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) introduced a resolution to put an end to circumventing the ballot initiative process as a means to trick voters and suppress Election Day turnout. The resolution is a response to reports that legislative Republicans intend to adopt initiative petitions – legislation correlating with ballot proposals – only to amend and effectively repeal them once the November election is over.

“Voters are tired of being lied to and misled. Trust is at an ultimate low in our government, and these tricks they’re playing with ballot proposals only furthers that distrust.” Sen. Ananich said. “I say we put an end to lame duck games and restore some integrity and that’s what my resolution does.”

The measure, supported by Senate Democratic Caucus members, would put an end to lame duck games by:

• Preventing the Legislature from repealing or amending a law submitted by initiative until the next legislative session;
• Extending the power of referendum to any act except general appropriation bills. This would put an end to tagging meaningless appropriations onto bills just to make them immune to repeal; and
• Requiring a three-fourths vote to amend or repeal a law enacted by the Legislature via initiative petition.

Under current rules, ballot initiatives that pass on Election Day require a three-fourths vote to amend or repeal, but initiative petitions enacted by the Legislature only require a simple majority. However, from 2015-2017, 70% of bills passed in the Senate by a supermajority three-fourths vote, and Senate Democrats believe the three-fourths rule should apply across the board for any law that originated by initiative petition.

“Republicans have used their control of the House, Senate and Governor’s office to turn the three weeks of lame duck after the election into unaccountable mayhem,” Sen. Ananich said. “On issues that matter so much to citizens that they’re willing to legislate it via ballot initiative, they deserve extra layers of protection from lame duck games. It’s a reasonable ask that we require a supermajority’s approval before changing or repealing those laws.”

Senate Joint Resolution S will require a two-thirds vote in the Senate and House before being placed on the ballot for a statewide vote.

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