Michigan votes: Legislative action

Aug 20, 2011

Lisa Brown (D), respectively, to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to strip-out language currently in the Constitution of 1963, allowing tax revenue earmarked to the state “School Aid Fund” to be used for “higher education, and school employees’ retirement systems.” In other words, tax dollars earmarked to this fund could only be spent on K-12 public schools. Referred to committee; no further action at this time.

House Joint Resolution W: Revise appropriations bill referendum ban. Introduced by Rep. Jim Townsend (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 close current state budget shortfalls. Referred to committee; no further action at this time. (Note: A Supreme Court ruling a few years ago 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. The Constitution gives citizens the right to halt the implementation of a new law by submitting petitions signed by 5 percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election, within 90 days of the end of an annual legislative session. When this happens, the new law does not go into effect unless it is approved by a majority in the next general election.)

House Joint Resolution X: Don’t pay millionaire governors. Introduced by Rep. Jon Switalski (D), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to not pay the governor a salary if he or she earns more than $1 million a year from outside investments. Referred to committee; no further action at this time.

House Joint Resolution Z: Establish part-time Legislature and cap legislator salaries. Introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin (R), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to replace the current full-time Legislature with a part-time one that would only meet for 90 consecutive days each year. The measure also would cap legislators’ annual salaries at 25 percent of the private sector average pay, and limit reimbursement for their expenses to actual expenses. Finally, it would prohibit providing future legislators with any retirement or health insurance fringe benefits. Referred to committee; no further action at this time.

House Joint Resolution AA: Require three-day rule for bill passage. Introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin (R), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to prohibit the House or Senate from passing a bill within three days of it having been reported or discharged from a committee, and require the exact text to be available to members for at least three days. Three-quarters of House or Senate members could waive the requirement with a roll-call vote. (Note: Bills are often reported with a substitute version which members may not see until the day they are voted on.) Referred to committee; no further action at this time.

House Joint Resolution BB: Give Legislature authority over state employee pay. Introduced by Rep. Rick Olson (R), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state Civil Service Commission’s authority to set state government employee compensation, and transfer this power to the Legislature. Under current law, the CSC sets pay levels, and the Legislature has 60 days to halt pay or benefit hikes the commission grants, but only with a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate. Referred to committee; no further action at this time.

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

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