Legislation affecting petition drives surfaces
Back in October 2011, a House bill was introduced that would affect the filing of petitions to initiate legislation or a constitutional amendment. That bill, HB 5063, could now have a dramatic impact on the Protect Our Jobs campaign to preserve collective bargaining rights and other ongoing petition drives.
Currently, approval of a petition by the State Board of Canvassers prior to circulation is optional. Under HB 5063, that review would now be optional and the Secretary of State--currently a Republican--would have the authority to approve petition language prior to circulation.
HB 5063 is tie-barred to HB 5059 which modifies campaign filing requirements for a ballot question.
Unless the bill is amended to say that it doesn't impact ongoing petition drives, HB 5063 could hinder the coalition's ability to collect the signatures necessary to put it the collective bargaining amendment on the ballot.
Even if it is amended to allow ongoing efforts to continue, the bill is still a bad idea for Michigan. It would put approval of any petition efforts into the hands of a partisan state officer, rather than leaving it in the hands of the thousands of people who sign the petition asking for a vote.
HB 5063 could see movement this week -- it's already on the House floor after passing out of committee last week. Contact your legislator and urge them to leave the power of petition in the hands of the people -- ask them to vote NO on HB 5063.