Recall of Sen. Arlan Meekhof relaunched

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:59 AM

“While serving in the Michigan Senate on May 12, 2011, Sen. Meekhof voted yes on Michigan House Bill 4361 (S-5), as amended,” the new proposed petition reads.

Collins’ first petition was rejected by a county panel at a hearing on June 21. The Ottawa County Election Commission said the petition language was unclear.

Collins, 34, is a math and English teacher for the Newaygo County alternative high school program.

The Tribune left a message with Collins on Thursday afternoon. The call was not returned by press time today.

Bob DeVries, Meekhof’s chief of staff, said their position on the planned recall has not changed from when Collins filed the first request.

“Mr. Collins is entitled to keep trying until he gets a petition approved,” DeVries said. “Even if he does, we are confident that the voters of Ottawa County are supportive of the strong reforms and necessary budget cuts that Sen. Meekhof has voted for.”

Ottawa County Elections Coordinator Justin Roebuck said state law requires a clarity hearing take place between 10 and 20 days of receiving a proposed recall notice. Roebuck said the hearing for the latest petition language has been scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 13, in Conference Room F of the county’s Fillmore Administration Building in West Olive.

Should the commission determine that the language is clear and can be certified, Collins will have 180 days to collect about 24,000 valid signatures. But to get the recall on the November election ballot, the deadline is Aug. 5.

The recall petition drive is part of what Roebuck previously called a concerted effort to recall legislators who voted in favor of Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2011-12 state budget. Specifically, Collins’ petition cites Meekhof’s vote on a bill that cuts business taxes, as well as support for a budget that cuts school funding, taxing pensions and preventing the reduction of the income tax rate for 2012.

Collins did not show up for the June 21 hearing, in which the county elections panel said the reference to Meekhof’s vote on the business tax cut bill wasn’t specific enough for a recall petition. The problem, according to Ottawa County Treasurer Bradley Slagh, is that the Michigan Senate had several votes on bills with the same number on May 12 and Collins’ petition could refer to any one of those.

A fresh recall petition was also filed this week against state Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph. The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reported Thursday that Lyn Earwood of Gobles submitted the petition just three days after the Berrien County Election Commission rejected the wording of her previous petition as having unclear language, County Clerk Louise Stine said.

The Berrien County Election Commission has set a clarity hearing on the new petition for July 12.

The wording on Earwood’s new petition reads similar to Collins’ second petition: “Sen. John Proos did on May 12, 2011, vote yes on Michigan House Bill 4361 (S-5) as amended.”

While the petition deadline for the November general election is Aug. 5, Stine said getting it on the January 2012 presidential primary election ballot would be a more likely target.

“They’re going to have to work hard, regardless,” the Berrien County clerk said.

The Herald-Palladium (MCT wire) contributed to this report.

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