Michigan 2018 Election Guide: Proposals

Oct 31, 2018 at 1:00 am

Three proposals will appear on the nonpartisan section of the ballot. One would legalize recreational marijuana and the others would help strengthen our democracy through policies aiming to ease the voting process and make every vote count equally.

click to enlarge Michigan 2018 Election Guide: Proposals
Mark Andresen

Prop 1: Marijuana legalization

This initiative would allow people 21 and older to possess, use, and buy marijuana for recreational use. The recreational industry, for the most part, would be governed by the same rules that guide the state's three-tier medical cannabis system. Under this system, all pot businesses must obtain licenses and dispensaries can be supplied only by large-scale growers and processors that have met lab testing and secure transportation requirements. Like with medical marijuana, grower licenses would be available for 500, 1,000, and 1,500 plant grows, but the proposal would create an additional license for marijuana "microbusinesses" that allows for grows of up to 150 plants. Individuals, meanwhile, would be free to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household for recreational use. The state will collect a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana sales, with revenue dedicated to implementation of the initiative, education, infrastructure, and municipalities that have approved marijuana businesses. The proposal does not include an expungement provision for those who've been convicted of marijuana crimes in the past.

Polling on this proposal has been all over the place, and suggests that anywhere from 38 to 61 percent of Michiganders support legalization.

The group behind the proposal, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, includes the Marijuana Policy Project, which has helped run successful legalization efforts in a number of states across the country. Marijuana is legal for recreational use in nine states.

click to enlarge Michigan 2018 Election Guide: Proposals
Mark Andresen

Prop 2: Nonpartisan redistricting

Proposal 2 is designed to put an end to gerrymandering, the practice of drawing electoral districts to benefit a specific political party. Gerrymandering occurs when the party leading the state is given the power to redistrict every 10 years after the Census. It involves "stacking" one party's voters into as few districts as possible, and "cracking" another party's voters across as many districts as possible — a great way to keep a political party in the minority and ensure it doesn't get a say in what laws are passed. Democrats and Republicans are both guilty of gerrymandering, but our current Michigan districts — drawn by Republicans in 2010 — have led analysts to name Michigan one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation.

Proposal 2 would establish an independent redistricting commission that would put people instead of politicians in charge of drawing the state's political districts. The commission would be made up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five independents, the latter of whom would have no affiliation to the state parties or politicians. All 13 commission members would be randomly selected by the secretary of state and would not be allowed to hold office, run for office, be certain kinds of lobbyists, or have strong ties to partisan actors.

The proposal by the group Voters Not Politicians has made it onto the ballot after fending off a legal challenge funded by the right-leaning Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Recent polling shows 55 percent of Michiganders support the proposal, and 23 percent oppose it.

click to enlarge Michigan 2018 Election Guide: Proposals
Mark Andresen

Prop 3: Expanded voting access

Prop 3 would make it easier for Michigan residents to vote. Automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, no-reason absentee voting, and straight-ticket voting would all be enshrined in the state constitution — a move designed to help safeguard the provisions from possible political meddling. (Case in point: Michigan had straight-ticket voting for decades until state Republicans banned it in 2016.) The changes would be of greatest benefit to workers who can't carve out time to make it to the polls on election days or people who lack adequate transportation. Prop 3 would also write into the constitution existing voting-related rules, like the advance mailing of absentee ballots to military personnel and voters overseas.

Prop 3 was led by Promote the Vote, which includes a consortium of organizations like the ACLU of Michigan, the Michigan NAACP, and the League of Women Voters.

Find more 2018 Election Guide coverage here.

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