On April 15th, the Michigan Senate voted down Senate Joint Resolution L, “A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution of 1963, by amending section 26 of article IV, to provide for concurrence of 2/3 of the members of each house to make certain modifications to certain taxes.”
There bill was defeated 24-12, with 2 not voting. 26 would be needed for the resolution to pass. The following are those that voted for the resolution (sponsors in bold; party cross-overs in italics): Jason Allen (R-Traverse City), Glenn Anderson (D-Westland), Jim Barcia (D-Bay City), Patricia Birkholz (R-Saugatuck Township), Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), Cameron Brown (R-Fawn River Township), Nancy Cassis (R-Novi), Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), Valde Garcia (R-Howell), Thomas George (R-Kalamazoo), Judson Gilbert (R-Algonac), Bill Hardiman (R-Kentwood), Mark Jansen (R-Gaines Township), Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks), Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw Townshi) (primary sponsor), Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland), Michelle McManus (R-Leland), John Pappageorge (R-Troy), Bruce Patterson (R-Canton), Randy Richardville (R-Monroe), Alan Sanborn (R-Richmond), Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek), Tony Stamas (R-Midland), and Gerald Van Woerkom (R-Muskegon).
Those voting against the resolution: my Senator Ray Basham (D-Taylor), Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor), Deborah Cherry (D-Burton), Irma Clarke-Coleman (D-Detroit), Hansen Clark (D-Detroit), John Gleason (D-Grand Blanc), Dennis Olshove (D-Warren), Mike Prusi (D-Ishpeming), Martha Scott (D-Highland Park), Michael Switalski (D-Roseville), Samuel Thomas (D-Detroit), and Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing).
Those not voting: Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) and Gilda Jacobs (D-Huntington Woods).
The resolution is expected to be reintroduced some time next week. I really think that it will pass, since a lot of the protest against this resolution was that it was a last minute resolution and the Senators should have more time to look it over. All the Republicans need is 2 more, and I think that they’ll get that. I HOPE that they’ll get that, and I hope that it’ll pass the House.
Here’s a copy of the floor summary of the resolution:
Senate Joint Resolution L (as introduced)
Sponsor: Senator Roger Kahn, M.D.
The joint resolution proposes an amendment to Article IV, Section 26 of the State Constitution to provide that a bill to expand the base of services subject to a tax imposed on their proceeds could not become law without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house.
If two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house approved the joint
resolution, it would have to be submitted to the voters at the next general election.
Legislative Analyst: Suzanne Lowe
There is no way to estimate the potential fiscal impact of this proposed constitutional amendment, but it definitely would make it more difficult to increase a tax on services.
At the present time, 16 states impose “supermajority” requirements to increase state taxes. Of these states, nine enacted their supermajority requirement in the 1990s and one state adopted its in 2000. The size of the supermajorities required vary: Five states require a three-fifths vote (Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oregon); eight states require a two-thirds vote (Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, South Dakota, and Washington); and the remaining three states require a three-fourths vote (Arkansas, Michigan, and Oklahoma). In 13 of these 16 states, the supermajority requirement applies to all tax increases. In Michigan, a three-fourths supermajority vote is required to increase the State education property tax and the local school 18-mill tax.
Date Completed: 4-16-08 Fiscal Analyst: Jay Wortley
And here’s a copy of the actual resolution:
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION L
April 15, 2008, Introduced by Senators KAHN, PAPPAGEORGE, RICHARDVILLE, CASSIS, KUIPERS, BIRKHOLZ, CROPSEY, JANSEN, BISHOP, GILBERT, BROWN, McMANUS and ANDERSON and referred to the Committee of the Whole.
A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution of 1963, by amending section 26 of article IV, to provide for concurrence of 2/3 of the members of each house to make certain modifications to certain taxes.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the state of Michigan, That the following amendment to the state constitution of 1963, to provide for concurrence of 2/3 of the members of each house to make certain modifications to certain taxes, is proposed, agreed to, and submitted to the people of the state:
Sec. 26. No bill shall be passed or become a law at any regular session of the legislature until it has been printed or reproduced and in the possession 1 of each house for at least five days. Every bill shall be read three times in each house before the final passage thereof. No bill shall become a law without the concurrence of a majority of the members elected to and serving in each house. HOWEVER, A BILL TO EXPAND THE BASE OF SERVICES SUBJECT TO A TAX IMPOSED ON THE PROCEEDS OF THOSE SERVICES SHALL NOT BECOME LAW WITHOUT THE CONCURRENCE OF TWO-THIRDS OF THE MEMBERS ELECTED TO AND SERVING IN EACH HOUSE. On the final passage of bills, the votes and names of the members voting thereon shall be entered in the journal.
Resolved further, That the foregoing amendment shall be submitted to the people of the state at the next general election in the manner provided by law.
Here’s a copy of the information from the Senate Journal:
Roll Call No. 229 Yeas—24
Allen Cassis Jansen Patterson Anderson Cropsey Jelinek Richardville Barcia Garcia Kahn Sanborn Birkholz George Kuipers Schauer Bishop Gilbert McManus Stamas Brown Hardiman Pappageorge Van Woerkom
Basham Clark-Coleman Olshove Switalski Brater Clarke Prusi Thomas Cherry Gleason Scott Whitmer
In The Chair: President
Senator Cropsey moved to reconsider the vote by which the joint resolution was not adopted.
The question being on the motion to reconsider,
Senator Cropsey moved that further consideration of the joint resolution be postponed for today.
The motion prevailed.
Senators Prusi and Switalski, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the adoption of Senate Joint Resolution L and moved that the statements they made during the discussion of the joint resolution be printed as their reasons for voting “no.”
The motion prevailed.
Senator Prusi’s statement is as follows:
The Constitution is our guiding document, and continually in my service in the Legislature, there have been references to the Constitution. Now you want to take and amend in a significant way our guiding documents, and you want to do it with less than 20 minutes or a half-hour heads-up on this issue. I think that is monumentally unfair, I believe that this is a politically-motivated ploy to get a headline on this April 15 tax day.
One year ago, the Senate Republicans had as part of their plan an expansion to the sales tax on the services performed in this state. You spent the last entire year running away from that plan, but that was part of what your thinking was a year ago as we wrestled with significant budget problems here in the state of Michigan. That service tax which was passed and given immediate effect last year was done so with Senate Republican votes. Now all of a sudden, you want to handcuff the Legislature into the supermajority scheme on a significant portion of what we were going to use to balance the state budget at some point in the future.
I find it ironic that you want to insert into our guiding document this paragraph that is big, nebulous, and really has had no opportunity to be studied or analyzed by our fiscal agencies, by Treasury, our attorneys, or anyone just so you can garner a headline here on Tax Day. I find that disturbing, and for that reason, among others, one of which being should not it be printed or reproduced in five days. We barely got five minutes with this, folks.
I think that is a sad commentary on how we are running this process, and I would ask my colleagues to join me in voting “no” on this.
Senator Switalski’s statement is as follows:
Why would a joint resolution as important as this, just introduced 10 minutes ago, be left off the agenda, discharged to the floor with no committee hearings, and run all the way through General Orders and onto Third Reading in a total of 15 minutes? Are we that cavalier about our Constitution?The establishment of a two-thirds supermajority should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. It is a limit on the will of the majority. This two-thirds amendment to the Constitution would mean that majority rules on tax policy. I am appalled that my colleagues would take such drastic action in 15 minutes on a resolution whose ink isn’t even dry.
Senators Kahn and Cassis asked and were granted unanimous consent to make statements and moved that the statements be printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Kahn’s statement is as follows:
This resolution does not arise de novo, isn’t like Athena bursting from the head of Zeus, though, hopefully, it has the same amount of knowledge. Why say that it doesn’t arise de novo? We’ve proposed it before in this body. There are 16 states that require supermajorities for tax issues, and clearly, we have had seared into our minds as well as into our people’s minds the issue of the service tax, its limitation, and I doubt that there is a person in this body who would like to revisit that.
I do understand the concern about timing. I would like to hear comments that reflect the value of the proposal—the value of reassurance to our people, the value of jobs, and the value of consideration before we raise the taxes that zap jobs from our people. That is missing from the comments that I have heard from my worthy colleagues who sit to my left. I would hope that they would bear that in mind that this resolution would pass, and failing that, it would not disappear, but rather receive hearings and then pass.
Senator Cassis’ statement is as follows:
Supermajorities are certainly not unheard of and, in fact, make it more certain that especially in regard to tax issues that our taxpayers—our constituents, that is—are heard loudly, clearly, and convincingly.
By unanimous consent the Senate returned to the order of
Senator Kahn asked and was granted unanimous consent to make a statement and moved that the statement be printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Kahn’s statement is as follows:
Well, we got 24 votes; needed 26. This is Tax Day. People are struggling in their homes to pay their bills, buy food, and wondering about a job. Their children are leaving the state angry. Sixteen other states have required supermajorities for the imposition of new taxes. We can continue to work on this. I am heartened by the bipartisan support that we achieved for this resolution; heartened that the Senator from the 19th District would support it; heartened that the Senator from the 6th District would support it and the Senator from the 31st District, my good friend.
The idea of responsible taxation is of our people’s concern about the activities that we had, if you can call it that—the bills we passed, unpassed, and twirled around. It warrants serious consideration of this measure. I look forward to discussing it with you again. Hopefully, I can get some of the fervor of the Senator from the 2nd District and bring this up for your consideration again and again and again until our people are responsibly heard on the issues of taxation and their jobs.
Senator Kahn, the primary sponsor of the resolution, made the following statements: “A super-majority requirement guarantees the Legislature will be more careful in its actions and will help limit the growth of government. We must not burden our people with further taxes. I am disappointed my colleagues failed to move this resolution, and encourage them all to do the right thing by passing it for our people. Taxing services is not the way to solve our budget problems. Over the past year, we heard loud and clear from residents and businesses that expanding taxes to services would severely hamper their ability to grow and would further harm our economy.”
Again, I think that this will pass when it’s reintroduced.
I’ll be going to the Isabella GOP meeting on Monday, so I might be able to get a quote from Representative Bill Caul on his views on the resolution.
I really hope that this passes, because it SHOULD be harder to raise taxes.