Several petitions are moving forward to get in front of the state Legislature or on the November ballot.
These three most recent petitions are wide-ranging. One would put the right to an abortion in the state Constitution. One would create an audit board to hire contractors to review statewide elections. Another would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027.
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The summaries for these petitions were approved by the Board of State Canvassers. It’s an optional step, but one campaigns often utilize to prevent legal challenges later in the process. The bipartisan board that has split down party lines in the past, but these controversial petitions got through. Now, the organizations behind them can start gathering signatures.
Since Michiganders are likely to soon start being approached to sign petitions, MichMash hosts Cheyna Roth of Slate and Jake Neher of WDET dive into what these proposals would actually do. It’s important to remember that there is no law prohibiting signature gatherers from lying to you to get you to sign their petition.
First, the Reproductive Freedom for All coalition wants to enshrine abortion rights into Michigan’s constitution. The group is expecting the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade this year. If Roe is overturned, Michigan would revert to an extremely restrictive abortion ban that dates back to 1846, which makes it a felony to perform an abortion except when it’s necessary to preserve the mother’s life.
The Board of State Canvassers approved the petition language with some changes.
Bonsitu Kitaba is the executive legal director with the ACLU of Michigan, which is part of the coalition behind the reproductive rights petition. She told reporter Colin Jackson at the Board of Canvassers meeting that this is an important step forward.
“We’re going to have to take this summary back to the coalition, Reproductive Freedom For All, and conduct some more due diligence and start planning for signature gathering and collection,” she said.
Trump supporters trying to change election audits
As for the audit board petition from Audit MI — it’s backed by supporters of former President Donald Trump who are pushing the baseless lie that the 2020 election was somehow stolen. It would transfer election audit authority away from the Michigan Secretary of State and local elections officials to a new board appointed by Republicans and Democrats in the state Legislature. That board would hire a third party to audit elections.
If the petition gets the roughly 340,000 valid signatures it needs, the proposal could become state law without a statewide vote on the November ballot. That’s because many Republicans in the Legislature also back the Big Lie, and petition initiatives only need a simple majority vote in the Legislature to become law.
Another attempt to raise the minimum wage
There’s also a petition initiative to increase Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 by 2027. The petition from the group Raise the Wage Michigan Ballot Committee would also adjust the minimum wage for workers who receive tips to match that of all other workers over the course of six years. Right now, Michigan’s minimum wage is nine dollars and 87 cents an hour and is set to rise to $12.05 by 2030.
If it gets enough signatures, this one might go to the ballot because Republicans in the Legislature aren’t typically eager to raise the minimum wage. But the Legislature could also consider another “adopt and amend” maneuver where it approves the petition, and then immediately amends that law to scale it back or gut it entirely.
But no matter what, if someone approaches you with one of those clip boards and a petition sheet and asks you to sign — make sure you read that petition language first.