Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Michigan Proposals 1 and 2 for 2014: An Analysis of the Wolf Hunting Refrenda

October 30, 2014

To fully understand Prosposal 14-1 and Proposal 14-2 that will be on the ballot here in Michigan one must go back to 2012 to understand the big picture.  In 2012, the Michigan Legislature passed Senate Bill 1350, which Governor Snyder signed, making it Public Act 520 of 2012.  The act added wolves to the definition of “game” animals; declared that wolf hunting was necessary to manage the growing population of wolves in order to protect humans, livestock, and pets; authorized a hunting season for wolves; established a licensing scheme; and established the Wolf Management Advisory Council.  Some citizens were opposed to the idea of wolf hunting, so they formed Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and filed a petition, with sufficient signatures, to have a referendum on Public Act 520.  Thus, it is this law that is on the ballot as Proposal 14-1.

(At this point, it is helpful to lay out the difference between an initiative, a referendum, and a proposal: An initiative is a citizen-initiated piece of legislation that goes before the Legislature if enough signatures are gathered; if the Legislature passes it, the legislation becomes law; if the Legislature does not pass it, it goes before the people for a vote.  A referendum is a citizen-initiated protest to a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor; those who want the law to stay vote “Yes”, while those opposed to the law vote “No”.  Once a referendum is certified, the law in question is suspended, pending the outcome of the election.  Thus, in an initiative, those filing the petition would vote “Yes”, while in a referendum, those filing the petition would vote “No”.  A proposal is anything that goes before the people for a vote, including referenda, initiatives, constitutional amendments, etc.)

I have no issue with voting “Yes” on Proposal 1, and unless you are opposed to the hunting of wolves, you likely will not either.  But Proposal 2 is where it gets a bit trickier.  After Keep Michigan Wolves Protected got Public Act 520 on the ballot as a referendum, the Legislature decided to pass another law, in case the referendum was successful; thus, Senate Bill 288 was passed, and Governor Snyder signed it, making it Public Act 21 of 2013.  The act continued the designation of the wolf as a “game” animal (since the bill was passed before the Public Act 520 referendum was certified, Public Act 520 had not yet been suspended, but if Proposal 1 were to pass, then the wolf would no longer be designated as a game animal); granted the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the power to designate animals as game animals, with some restrictions (however, it also stipulated that only the Legislature has the power to remove animals from the list of game animals); granted the NRC the ability to establish the first open season for any animal that it adds to the list of game animals; granted the eliminated the fee for hunting licenses for military personnel; and granted the NRC sole authority to regulate fishing.  Again, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed a petition, with sufficient signatures, to have a referendum on Public Act 21, so it is now on the ballot as Proposal 14-2.

Personally, I am not a fan of Public Act 21; I do not like the added authority that the Legislature gave to the NRC, and I do not feel that it is wise to allow the agency to have the power to designate animals as game animals and establish a hunting season for such animals without any legislative input.  I also question the wisdom of granting the NRC exclusive authority to regulate fishing.  If the story had ended here, I likely would’ve voted Yes on Proposal 1 and No on Proposal 2, but what happened next made the whole situation much more interesting.

A group of citizens in favor of hunting wolves, under the name Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, successfully filed an initiative petition.  The proposal continued the designation of the wolf as a game animal; continued the grant to the NRC to designate animals as game animals and establish a first open season; continued the stipulation that the Legislature has the sole power to remove animals from the list of game animals; and appropriated $1,000,000 to the Department of Natural Resources to fight the invasion of Asian Carp.  The proposal also had a section that stipulated that if language from Public Act 520 or 21 was removed due to failure of either referenda, that language was reinstated by the initiative.  The Legislature adopted the initiative, meaning that it became law (Public Act 281 of 2014) without having to be signed by Governor Snyder.  So what makes the initiative so special?

The appropriation of money to the DNR means that, pursuant to Article 2, § 9 of the Michigan Constitution, the law cannot be subjected to a referendum petition.  (This specific issue was addressed in Michigan United Conservation Clubs v. Secretary of State, 464 Mich. 359 (2001), where the Michigan Supreme Court interpreted that any appropriation is an “appropriation” under this provision of the Constitution, which I agree with, even though the result is that the Legislature can make a law referendum-proof.)  In drafting the initiative, the drafters knew that adding the appropriation would make it referendum-proof, and in approving the initiative, the legislators knew that even though they had previously passed two bills to allow wolf hunting with pushback from voters, by passing this initiative, they would be making the act referendum-proof.  The inclusion of the appropriation was not simply a coincidence; the drafters, and the Legislature, knew what they were doing.  They knew that this was a hot-button issue that some (perhaps even many) voters opposed, yet they went forward and passed it in a way that would not allow a referendum on the issue.

I have no problem with the Legislature passing Public Act 21 after the petition for Public Act 520 was filed; if it wants to do so, that’s fine with me.  But what I do have a problem with is the Legislature passing an initiative with an appropriation provision in it solely to make that law referendum-proof.  To do so is disingenuous and out-of-line with the intent of the appropriations process.

So that gets us to where we are today: Proposal 1 and 2 are on the ballot, but even if the No voters win on both proposals, the result is still ultimately the same as if Yes were to win.  (It should be noted that a court could potentially overturn the initiative, but I see no legal grounds for that to happen, and I think the chances of that happening are next to none.  The voters could also push for a new initiative that would undo the last initiative, but that seems unlikely to be successful.)  But voting No on the proposals can still send a message.  Those opposed to wolf hunting overall should vote No on both, but those who respect the referendum process, regardless of their feelings on wolf hunting, should vote No on Proposal 2.

There has been a lot of confusion and dishonesty surrounding the proposals.  Contrary to what some Yes supporters say, these proposals have nothing to do with allowing hunters or citizens to kill nuisance wolves; nuisance wolves can already be killed under existing law.  Farmers can still kill wolves that threten their livestock (although allowing them to be hunted would decrease the wolf population and chance that their livestock would be threatened overall).  Those who say otherwise are not being honest.

So why do the proposals even matter?  Again, it is about making a statement that the Legislature should not abuse its appropriation power to remove the power of a referendum from the people.  Regardless of your feelings on wolf hunting, all Michiganders should support the ability of those opposed to wolf hunting to hold a referendum on legislation that allows for wolf hunting; furthermore, voting No on Proposal 2, because of the passage of Public Act 281, will not have any adverse effect on the existence of wolf hunting in Michigan.  For those reasons, I urge a No vote on at least Proposal 2.

For more information about voting in Tuesday’s election, please see below.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Michigan Proposal 1 of 2012: The Emergency Manager Law

October 25, 2012

Back in 2008, I went through and analyzed each of the proposals, so I figured I would do that again.  And there’s no better place to start than Proposal 1.

To start off, here is the actual ballot language:

PROPOSAL 12-1

A REFERENDUM ON PUBLIC ACT 4 OF 2011 –

THE EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW

Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

  • Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
  • Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
  • Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
  • Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.
  • Should this law be approved?

YES ____

NO ____

Now, in 2008, I analyzed the whole text of the amendment, but since this is a referendum on an already-passed bill, I’m going to skip that, and go straight to my analysis.  A copy of the full text can be found here.

Emergency managers are not new to the state.  This is actually a bill that amends Public Act 72 of 1990.

There were two major criticisms of the original law:

  1. Emergency financial managers were put in when it was too late.
  2. Once they were put in, they could do too little.

So, the Legislature tried to remedy this.  They added more triggers for when an emergency could be declared, and they gave the managers more powers.

Two of the powers the managers were given were especially controversial: the ability to remove elected officials from the municipality, and the ability to change or void collective bargaining agreements that the municipality had entered into.

Unions especially hated the latter provision, and they characterized it as a means of union busting.  But ultimately, it was a necessary provision, because time and time again, in struggling school districts and municipalities, unions have refused to give concessions, even when keeping their current contracts means the municipality will go bankrupt (and then, ironically, they would not get paid at all).  It was the stubbornness of the unions that made the provision necessary.

The second criticism was that it removed citizens democratic rights to elect their municipality leaders.  Ultimately, this is not a Constitutional right guaranteed to the people of Michigan.  The ability to hold municipal elections is not a Constitutional provision, and the state can take this privilege away if it so chooses.

My criticism was unlike these two and had to do with the expansion of when an “emergency” took place.  It included a clause that essentially said that an emergency could be defined as when the state executive branch says it’s occurring, and I viewed this as an overstep by the executive branch (although it did have weak limited checks and balances).

So that was my reason for initially thinking I would vote, “No”.  But as I thought about it more, I realized that my opposition was the minority opposition, and if it failed, it would fail because of provisions that I thought were good.  And if the law failed, it probably wouldn’t be introduced again.  Ultimately, there is more good in the law than bad, and I believe that the Legislature can (and should) fix the law if it passes the referendum.  The problems in the law should be fixed in the Legislature, not at the ballot box, and that is why I am supporting Proposal 1.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Obama Wants a System “that doesn’t allow third parties to overwhelm the system”

April 11, 2008

Wow – so I was reading a news story about McCain and/or Obama taking public financing (which I did a blog post on, available here: https://inkslwc.wordpress.com/2008/04/11/obama-reconsidering-taking-public-financing-and-its-85-million-spending-limit-pledge), and I came accross this statement by Barack Obama to reporters earlier today:

“I would like to see a system preserved and I intend, if I am the nominee, to have conversations with Senator McCain about how to move forward in a way that doesn’t allow third parties to overwhelm the system.” (emphasis mine)

Um … wow.  If we don’t allow as many 3rd parties in as want to join, what does that say for democracy?

Obama says he wants change, but all he really wants is to keep the 2-party system the way it is, that way either a Republican or a Democrat is always guaranteed to be in power, so instead of hte Democrats having to fight off 5 parties, Obama only wants them to have to fight off 1.

This just left me speechless.  I mean, I know that 99% of Republicans and Democrats who are actually IN POWER don’t want 3rd parties coming in (because that would mean more competition for them), but I didn’t think that somebody would actually come out and say it!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Ralph Nader to Clinton on His Blog: “Don’t Listen to Leahy”

March 29, 2008

Ralph Nader has even chimed in on the whole Tonya Harding Option vs. Clinton dropping out controversy.  He posted this post on his blog:

Don’t Listen to Senator Leahy

Don’t Listen to Senator Leahy .

Senator Clinton:

Just read where Senator Patrick Leahy is calling on you to drop out of the Presidential race.

Believe me.

I know something about this.

Here’s my advice:

Don’t listen to people when they tell you not to run anymore.

That’s just political bigotry.

Listen to your own inner citizen First Amendment voice.

This is America.

Just like every other citizen, you have a right to run.

Whenever you like.

For as long as you like.

It’s up to you, Hillary.

Just tell them –

It’s democracy.

Get used to it.

Yours truly,

Ralph Nader

Wow – so we’ve got House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-No endorsement), Clinton campaign donors, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT-Obama), Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT-Obama), and DNC Chairman Howard Dean (D-VT-No endorsement), AND NOW Ralph Nader (I-D.C.) has joined in.

Nader will probably send another message to Clinton after she loses the primary: “Don’t drop out.  You have the freedom to run.”  Unfortunately, I doubt she’ll listen.

But, either way, she continues to tear apart the party!  Pretty soon McCain won’t be addressing Republicans, but Democrats when he says, “Thank you, my friends…”

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Limbaugh Tells Texas & Ohio Republicans to Vote for Clinton

March 1, 2008

During a recent broadcast of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh the Great responded to an article in a Texas newspaper with the headline “Many Republicans to vote for Obama.”  Limbaugh responded by saying:

I understand I’ve got a big challenge here to try to get Republicans to change their minds on this and vote for Hillary to keep her in the race, to keep that party at war with itself…

It’s clear that Republicans in Texas have been listening to this program where we have advised Republicans to pimp themselves for a day and go vote in the Democrat primary … I just think, at this stage, the longer Hillary can stay in this, the better for us.

I know I’m fighting an uphill battle … vote for Hillary to keep this campaign going, this “uncivil war.”

Remember what this is, this is about us winning. You have to understand, it’s not about Hillary winning; It’s about us winning. It’s about our party winning. It’s about those people losing. They’ve got some problems in the Democratic Party. It’s not all sweetness and light over there…

If Hillary loses this thing, all of that’s going to come to a screeching halt. We want all the disruption in that party as possible. It’s about us winning.

I think that if Limbaugh is successful, this will help out the Republicans come November, but I don’t think it is necessary. I think the Democrats (especially Clinton) have fallen into infighting WAY to much.

IF(and that’s a HUGE if, because I don’t think it will happen) Clinton does win the nomination, the Democrats are done.  She will lose the independents and the young voters that Obama has attracted.  He’s almost like the Ron Paul for the Democrats (except he also attracted a large part of the party base) – he’s winning hugely with the independents, young people, and those who don’t normally vote (which is ironic, because he’s more liberal than Clinton, except on health care – where at least he isn’t forcing his plan on EVERYBODY).

This also teaches the Democrats a lesson.  They cross party lines for our primaries all the time (a lot of people did it in Michigan and a lot voted for Giuliani – the most liberal candidate we had).  They did it in 2000 with McCain.  This is why I think we need closed primaries (sure it goes against Democracy, but PARTY primaries are about what the party wants, NOT democracy.  If you don’t like it – go start your OWN party!) to keep the parties out of each other’s primaries.

But if Limbaugh’s drive is successful, I’ll be a very happy man today (Rob, if you’re reading this, that was a straight shot out to you).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Raúl Castro Is Officially Elected President of Cuba

February 25, 2008

Yesterday (February 24th) the National Assembly of Cuba officially elected Raúl Castro as President of Cuba, officially ending Fidel Castro’s term as President (although Raúl had been acting President since July 31st, 2006 after Fidel was hospitalized).  Fidel had said on the 19th (possibly the 18th, I’ve seen a few sources with different versions, but most say the 19th) that he would not seek another term, saying, “I will not aspire nor accept—I repeat I will not aspire or accept—the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief.”

It’s debated how tied Raúl is to communism – some think he’ll stick more to communism, while others think he may go toward letting Cuba become free of it.  I don’t claim to know, so I’m not going to speculate.

I just hope that democracy CAN be brought to Cuba SOON.

As well, I think this embargo that we have on Cuba should be lifted immediately (and should’ve been lifted at least 10-15 years ago).

Well, now that there’s a new President, the fainting counter gets reset back to 0, but I doubt anybody’s going to beat Castro’s record.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Analysis of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence from Serbia

February 23, 2008

OK, so election stuff plus a research paper kept me from talking about this as it happened, but now let’s take a look back on all that’s happened.  On February 17th, 2008, the Autonomous Province of Kosovo declared their independence from Serbia.  Since then, some countries have weighed in (see below for the map).  Some Serbians rioted (1 assumed protester was found dead); our embassy in Belgrade got torched a little bit, causing all non-essential personnel to have to be evacuated to Agence France-Presse (apparently the world’s oldest news agency) – no biggie.

So, who recognizes the Republic of Kosovo as it’s own sovereign nation?  And should we?

Well, I say we absolutely should!  They were an oppressed region who the UN put under its control after the 1999 Kosovo War.  I think that for the people of Kosovo to be treated fairly, they HAD to secede.

According to a poll an unscientific ABC News poll on Facebook, 79% of people agree with me, 12% disagree, and 9% are unsure.  Some of the arguments I’ve heard are “What if Texas seceded?”  Well that’s different – Texas isn’t being oppressed.  (Not to mention that Texas could probably put up a heck of a fight.)

So, who says what about Kosovo?  Well, here’s a map from Wikipedia:

Admin edit – apparently Wikipedia updated it to just a recognizes / doesn’t recognize map. So here’s an updated version (this will update automatically as wikipedia updates it, so if you’ve visited this page and are coming back to it now, refresh [F5] to make sure that this map is up to date). The map above is the map version from when I originally posted this post, and the map below is the current map:

██ Kosovo

██ States which formally recognize Kosovo as independent.

██ States which have stated they intend to recognize formally Kosovo as independent.

██ States which have delayed or have expressed neutrality on recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

██ States which have expressed concern over unilateral moves or expressed wish for further negotiations.

██ States which have stated they will not recognize Kosovo as independent.

██ States with no reported position at present.

Now, let’s highlight some key countries:

  • The U.S. obviously supports it.
  • Essentially the entire former U.S.S.R. opposes it, and Russia is blocking its entry into the UN.
  • Costa Rica was the first (by local time) to recognize it – kinda odd.
  • Afghanistan was the first (by international time) to recognize it – again, seemed kinda odd.
  • Taiwan recognizes it, but Kosovo may not recognize them, in order to get China to side with them – this angered me a little, as I’ve always been a HUGE supporter of Taiwan, the TRUE China!  Here’s a quote from the Foreign Ministry: “We congratulate the Kosovo people on their winning independence and hope they enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom. […] Democracy and self-determination are the rights endorsed by the United Nations. The Republic of China always supports sovereign countries’ seeking democracy, sovereignty and independence through peaceful means.”
  • The British Kingdom (with the exception of Canada and South Africa) seems to have supported Kosovo.
  • Obviously Serbia doesn’t.
  • Oddly, Bosnia says not in the near future – most other countries who have seceded or are trying to have sided with Kosovo, so I thought they would.
  • Vietnam doesn’t – who didn’t guess that one.
  • China expressed “grave concern” (thus Kosovo’s reluctance to acknowledge Taiwan, since China is also a member of the UN Security Council).
  • South Korea is in favor of recognition, but still somewhat skeptical.
  • The Organization of the Islamic Conference backs Kosovo.
  • The International Olympic Committee does not plan on recognizing them.
  • The Basque Country, Catalan Government, Chechnya, Crimea, and Transnistria (at least their minister) all support Kosovo.
  • Western Sahara is bitter, because Kosovo was so quickly recognized and they weren’t.
  • Canada is in a pickle.  Their motherland, England has sided with Kosovo, but if they side with Kosovo, that sends a HUGE message to Quebec which has been trying to break free from the U.S. state of (I’m kidding – it’s a joke, so don’t get all offended about it) Canada for quite a while now.

So, go Kosovo! (and they’d better not change the name to Kosova – I’ve heard rumors and that’d be stupid).

 

Done Supporting FREEDOM,

Ranting Republican
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Pakistan’s opposition leader Benazir Bhutto Killed in Attack

December 28, 2007

On Thursday, the Pakistani opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto was killed by a gunman in Rawalpindi.  The gunman shot her in the spinal cord and chest (the cause of death was damage to the spinal cord).  The gunman then blew himself up, and 20 others were killed in all (for the full story, read here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-12-27-bhutto-pakistan_N.htm).

Bhutto was the head of the party opposing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and her party was expected to win the election which is just days away.  Musharraf released a statement saying, “This is the work of those terrorists with whom we are engaged in war.  I have been saying that the nation faces the greatest threats from these terrorists.  I express my resolve that — and I also seek solidarity from the nation and cooperation and help — we will not rest until we eliminate these terrorists and root them out.”

The Pakistani opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, called for the immediate resignation of Musharaff said that he would boycott January 8th parliamentary elections.

As a result of the attack, violence has broken out among Pakistan, with several more deaths.

World  leaders condemned the attacks and urged Pakistan to continue its path toward democracy.  I join them and do the same.

I hope that a strong leader will take Bhutto’s place, and I hope that Musharraf will not capitalize upon this attack in any attempt to maintain power.  Pakistan MUST continue toward democracy.  These terrorists MUST be caught and punished.  Democracy and order MUST prevail!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

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