Tim Skubick: Petition drive system may be ugly, but it's working - KMSP-TV

Tim Skubick: Petition drive system may be ugly, but it's working

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By Tim Skubick
FOX 2 Political Analyst

LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -- O.K. everybody.  Time for a great big deep breath. Inhale.

Seems like ever since voters had to laboriously wade through those six ballot proposals, every well-meaning do-gooder has stepped forward with the lament that something must be done.  "Michigan is turning into California," is the battle cry.  Oh woe is us.

Yes, this year's petition process was expensive.

Yes, there were a lot of complex issues to decide.

Yes, millionaires paid circulators to gather the names. The governor calls it a "bounty."

And yes, the petition drive system, once intended to be a grass roots vehicle to petition the government, has been bought and paid for by special interests.

Wow.  That's a mouthful and certainly suggests that something is amiss and badly in need of repair.

Exhale.

Just because those with a boat load of money can gin-up the process, they still have rights like all the grassrooters who don't.

Can you prevent them from paying circulators to gather names?  The courts would likely rule no.  What do they call it, free speech?

Can you boost from 400,000 to a million the number of names to get on the ballot? Heck the rich will just write another check and any small groups with no bankrolls will be automatically excluded.  That doesn't feel right either.

Look it.  The process is working even though it looks ugly.

The solution is simple. Let anybody who wants at the petition process, have at it.  The ultimate "reform" that does not require legislative intervention is to have an informed electorate.

If the citizens are smart enough to figure out who is trying to "buy" the constitution, they will act accordingly.  Ask Matty Moroun, who tried to kill a bridge and impose two-thirds majority rule on taxes with Proposals 5 and 6.  Voters got it and they got him.  The system worked.

So babble on about "fixing" the petition drive process, but if it ain't broke…well, you know the rest.

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