Rep. Miller: Plan brings accountability, transparency to petition drives

Categories: Miller News,News

State Rep. Aaron Miller said a plan approved this week by the Michigan House will provide more transparency for voters and enhance the integrity of the state’s citizen petition initiative process.

The bills – sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats – make much-needed improvements to Michigan’s grassroots lawmaking process while boosting accountability and giving voters in rural areas and small towns a greater voice.

“Voters in St. Joseph and Cass counties deserve to participate in the initiative process just as much as voters in Michigan’s big cities,” said Miller, R-Sturgis. “Right now, many rural communities are ignored when petition circulators gather signatures for proposals to amend state law – especially when they’re funded by rich, out-of-state special interests. This proposal ensures voters across Michigan participate in the decision on whether an initiative proposal should move forward.”

House Bill 6595, sponsored by Rep. Jim Lower (R-Cedar Lake), includes the following protections:

  • Requires that not more than 15 percent of certified signatures come from any one congressional district, guaranteeing more circulation in rural areas.
  • Requires initiative campaigns to provide a short summary at the top of their petitions, ensuring people can quickly size up the issue.
  • Makes absolutely clear that if a petition circulator deceives people or provides fraudulent information, the signatures they collect must be invalidated.

House Bills 4635, 5208 and 5209, sponsored by Jeremy Moss (D- Southfield) and Leslie Love (D-Detroit), implement the following reforms:

  • Prohibit circulators from misrepresenting the contents of a proposed ballot question or recall petition.
  • Prohibit circulators from misrepresenting whether they are a paid or volunteer signature gatherer.
  • Require petition circulators to wear identification badges.
  • Ban organizations from employing someone as a petition signature gatherer if they have been convicted of an election crime.
  • Give voters an option to remove their name and signature from a ballot question or recall petition.

The legislation advances to the Senate for consideration.