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Michigan court OKs 3 ballot measures

September 6, 2012
Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that voters should decide whether to strengthen collective bargaining rights, allow construction of bridges and tunnels to Canada, and require a supermajority in the Legislature to raise taxes.

The state's highest court approved the three proposals for the Nov. 6 election ballot but rejected a fourth measure that would have authorized construction of eight more casinos. Justices disqualified the casino proposal because it failed to disclose that it would weaken the state Liquor Control Commission's authority.

Opponents challenged the proposed initiatives in court after the State Board of Canvassers repeatedly deadlocked on partisan lines over whether to place the measures on the ballot.

Each of them would amend the Michigan Constitution.

The issue before the supreme court was whether the measures would repeal or change existing constitutional provisions and, if so, whether their wording made those changes clear.

In an opinion written by Justice Brian K. Zahra, the seven-member court unanimously found that the collective bargaining, bridge construction and tax increase measures would not "add to, delete from or change" wording in the constitution, nor would they prevent existing provisions from being carried out. The ruling against the casino proposal was decided by a 4-3 majority.

The decision means the state's voters will decide the contentious issue of whether to build a new bridge across the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and many business interests favor the project, but it has failed to gain approval in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who say they would suffer a competitive disadvantage if the new bridge were built, have sponsored a statewide television ad blitz against it.

Mickey Blashfield, spokesman for a group called The People Should Decide that sponsored the initiative, said the court's decision was "a victory for the more than 600,000 voters who signed our petition and for all Michiganders who want a say in how public money is spent on international crossings."

A group called Protect Our Jobs has championed the measure that would guarantee collective bargaining rights.



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