Michigan voters approved three proposals during the November 6th election. The first proposal has the intent of regulating marihuana like alcohol at the state level, the second authorizes the creation of an independent redistricting commission and the last one allows for greater access to voting. The first proposal was a legislative initiative because it creates statutes and the other two are amendments to the state’s constitution. Although the proposals have passed, it doesn’t mean they are law yet. Under the guidelines in the state’s Constitution, a proposal automatically becomes law 10 days after the votes have been certified. This year, that certification is likely to take place during the beginning part of December.
The Constitution also provides for certain protections of an initiated law. If an initiative proposal passes, it cannot be vetoed by the Governor. In addition to being protected from a gubernatorial veto, it is extremely difficult for the Legislature to amend an initiated law. For most bills, there are some exceptions, it takes a simple majority of the legislature to amend or pass the legislation. However, because an initiative law was executed directly by the citizens, the threshold to change the law is much higher. It takes three-fourths of the legislature to amend the initiated law.
According to the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections, prior to the passage of these three proposals, there were 74 proposed amendments to the state’s constitution that have been put on the ballot since 1963. Of those, 31 were put on the ballot by initiative petitions (the others were done by the Legislature) and only 10 were approved by the citizens of Michigan. In terms of legislative initiatives, 13 have been put on the ballot since 1963 and only seven of those have been approved. Therefore, to have two constitutional amendments and one legislative initiative all pass in one year is quite a feat by those who undertook the efforts.
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