Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saving Your Neighborhood From Hordes of Petition-Waving Seniors

Our quirky constitution strikes again, and the Republicans intend to take full advantage of it.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to cut business taxes and increase taxes on individuals – including a new state tax on pensions – may be unpopular with many, but it could not be repealed by voters.

The 183-page tax overhaul bill, introduced by House Republicans, includes a $100 appropriation that makes it legally immune to a citizens’ referendum.

House Democrats charged today that the provision is an attempt to subvert the right of voters to challenge laws they don’t like, such as a law to allow dove hunting, which a petition drive suspended in 2005 and voters repealed in 2006.

This doesn't mean that taxation can't be changed should the Democrats take back the legislature and actually find the guts to do something about it; it just means that you, citizen, cannot start a petition to put the issue on the ballot. Your shiny new Republican government is going to make sure to take that decision right out of your hands.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that a law that includes an expenditure as small as $1 cannot be repealed by a public vote because the state constitution prohibits referendums against state appropriations.

The ruling addressed a law that made it easier for state residents to legally carry concealed weapons. A petition drive sought to block the law until a statewide vote was held to approve it.

But framers inserted a $1 appropriation for State Police to administer the concealed weapons law, which the court ruled inoculated it from the referendum.

Critics of the court’s ruling said it will allow any unpopular law to avoid a public vote by adding an expenditure, no matter how superfluous.

A similar maneuver for Snyder’s tax plan is sure to heighten what is already a growing outcry.

This was also done with the MBT in '07, so it's not like this is new - although it is rather funny to watch Jud Gilbert fall back on playing the "bipartisan bill!" card after Republicans were the ones who made the MBT necessary after they repealed the SBT without a replacement.

Oh, wait. That's not funny at all. But it is par for the course: Create the problem, and then hide behind the Democrats when they cooperate on the solution.

There is a lesson in here somewhere...