Yesterday, thousands of Main Street Movement protesters marched on the Michigan Capitol to protest Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) constitutionally flawed assault on Michigan workers. Michigan’s voters, however, can do far more than simply make their displeasure known to Snyder and his allies in the state legislature. Michigan’s constitution is unusually easy to amend, and Snyder and his allies become eligible for a recall in just over three months.
The state House and Senate Minority Leaders have already called for a state constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining rights, but Michigan voters can bypass the legislature altogether and call for a constitutional amendment by petition and referendum. According to the state constitution,
§ 2 Amendment by petition and vote of electors.
Sec. 2. Amendments may be proposed to this constitution by petition of the registered electors of this state. Every petition shall include the full text of the proposed amendment, and be signed by registered electors of the state equal in number to at least 10 percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected. … Any amendment proposed by such petition shall be submitted, not less than 120 days after it was filed, to the electors at the next general election. … If the proposed amendment is approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question, it shall become part of the constitution, and shall abrogate or amend existing provisions of the constitution at the end of 45 days after the date of the election at which it was approved.
In short, this means slightly over 300,000 signatures are required to place an amendment protecting workers’ rights on the ballot. Once the proposed amendment is on the ballot, a simple majority of the electorate can turn it into law.
Laws shall be enacted to provide for the recall of all elective officers except judges of courts of record upon petition of electors equal in number to 25 percent of the number of persons voting in the last preceding election for the office of governor in the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled. The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required shall be a political rather than a judicial question.
As in Wisconsin, Michigan elected officials enjoy a safe haven period immediately after they take office — “a recall petition cannot be filed against an officer until the officer has performed the duties of the office to which elected for a period of 6 months during the current term of that office.” But Snyder and his legislative allies began their current terms on January 1st of this year. Accordingly, they will be eligible for a recall in July.