Group Proposing Constitutional Changes
A band of 20 Lansing long-timers will suggest changes to the state's term limit law and the selection process for the Supreme Court, university trustees and State Board of Education at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Citizens for Michigan, headed by former bond attorney John AXE, former Attorney General Frank KELLEY, longtime Macomb County Commission Chair John HERTEL and Oakland County Executive Brooks PATTERSON are scheduled to roll out 63 recommended changes to the state's 43-year-old Constitution.
Group Spokesman Rick SIMONSON, a 40-year-veteran of the Lansing government scene, said Citizens for Michigan is not ballot proposal committee and will not be asking voters to make any changes. However, the report will go to policymakers as a way to strengthen the impact of the document.
Among the changes will be proposals to make it easier for local governments and schools to obtain infrastructure money, as well as proposed ways the state can avoid becoming a lightening rod for out-of-state ideological ballot proposals like the Stop Overspending initiative that nearly missed the ballot this year.
The group started meeting three and a half years ago (See "Study Group Adopts Historic Name: 'Citizens For Michigan,'" 7/29/03).
Some notable group members include U.S. Rep. Joe SCHWARZ (R-Battle Creek), former Sen. Harry GAST, Debbie DINGELL, former Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGROW and former House Speaker Paul HILLEGONDS. The group received legal input from around 25 experts in their field, include Lucille TAYLOR, Mike HODGE, Doug DRAKE and Bob LaBRANT, among others.
Every 16 years, Michigan voters are asked if a new constitutional convention is needed. The people will be asked again in 2010. The bi-partisan group wanted to provide some suggestions to current and future decision makers.
Simonson said the most attention was focused on local financing issues and how to make infrastructure money available to locals, schools and counties. It also discussed the need for a governor to appoint their entire cabinet. Currently the directors of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Education are chosen by separate commissions or boards.
Citizens for Michigan isn't focused much on the 25 constitutional amendments or the 70-some proposals that have been offered since the 1963 state convention, Simonson said.
My guard is automaticaly up after seeing some establishment names like Frank Kelley, Joe Schwarz, Harry Gast, John Hertel, Brooks Patterson and the like. Power is tough to give up with these career politicians. Bob LaBrant is one guy I have a lot of respect for however.
63 constitutional changes? That's a substansial change. I won't comment on the plans until I see them, but my guard is certainly up - doubly so when I see Joe Schwarz and that crowd leading the way.