Unconstitutional? Not If These Resolutions Pass

November 17, 2017 MichiganVotes weekly roll call report

The Legislature is on Thanksgiving break with no sessions scheduled until Nov. 28. Since there were no votes this week, this and next week’s report describe some of the 39 amendments to the state constitution that lawmakers have formally proposed this year. To become law these require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate and approval by voters.


Senate Joint Resolution K: Lower minimum age for governor

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Introduced by Sen. Ian Conyers (D), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to eliminate the current minimum age requirement for governor and lieutenant governor, which is age 30. The bill would leave in place a requirement that a candidate have been a registered voter in the state for at least four years, which implies a minimum age of 22 to be governor. Conyers was age 28 when elected in Nov. 2016. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


House Joint Resolution Q: Propose a part time legislature:

Introduced by Rep. Tom Barrett (R), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment that would limit annual legislative sessions to 90 days. Since 2001 more than 20 part time legislature proposals have been introduced. This one would establish weekend sessions once a month plus two-week legislative sessions twice a year. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


House Joint Resolution R: Replace House and Senate with unicameral legislature

Introduced by Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R), to place before voters in the next general election a Constitutional amendment to establish a nonpartisan unicameral legislature (instead of a separate House and Senate) with 110 districts apportioned on the basis of formulas specified in the resolution. Legislators would have four year terms and term limits would be repealed. Voters would no longer see a party designation after legislative candidates’ names on ballot. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


House Joint Resolution S: Prevent making controversial bills “referendum-proof”

Introduced by Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to revise the current prohibition on citizen referendums challenging bills that contain an appropriation. The measure would establish that the ban only applies to bills that substantially fund one or more state departments, or which are needed to close current state budget shortfalls.

A 2001 Supreme Court ruling interpreted the provision to prohibit referendums on any bill containing an appropriation. In several instances since then, the legislature has deliberately added modest appropriations to controversial bills which, without the appropriation, would likely have been challenged by a referendum. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


SOURCE: MichiganVotes.org, a free, non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, non-partisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit www.MichiganVotes.org.


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