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Stories about Michigan

Minor party filing deadline to pass on Aug. 4 in special election for two Michigan state Senate seats

The minor-party filing deadline for the Michigan State Senate Districts 8 and 28 special elections is on Aug. 4.

The major party primary is scheduled for Aug. 3, and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 2. 

In District 8, seven Republicans and two Democrats will compete in the Aug. 3 primaries. For District 28, there are two Democrats and three Republicans competing.

The District 8 special election was called after Peter Lucido (R) was elected Macomb County Prosecutor. The District 28 special election was called after Peter MacGregor (R) was elected Kent County Treasurer. 

As of August 2, the Michigan State Senate is composed of 16 Democrats and 20 Republicans. Michigan has had a divided government since 2019. A divided government occurs when different parties control the state senate, state house, and governorship. There are currently 12 states with divided governments.

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Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 Thursday to keep Detroit Proposal P charter revision on Aug. 3 ballot

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on July 29 that Proposal P—a ballot measure to replace the Detroit City Charter—could stay on the August 3 ballot.

Michigan Supreme Court Justices Welch, Bernstein, McCormack, and Cavanagh voted to overturn the lower courts’ decisions, keeping Proposal P on the ballot. Justices Viviano, Clement, and Zahra dissented. The court ruled that, while the Home Rule Cities Act was unclear about the role that the governor should play in a charter revision ballot question, the Michigan State Constitution gives control over a city’s charter to its voters.

If Proposal P is approved on August 3, it would make changes to multiple sections of Detroit’s City Charter. Some highlighted changes include

  1. allowing for free public broadband internet;
  2. adding new police training programs;
  3. prohibiting certain types of police conduct, such as no-knock warrants, firing tear gas or rubber bullets at protesters, and accepting federal military surplus equipment;
  4. setting up a task force to address reparations for Detroit’s Black residents;
  5. creating a property tax overassessment relief program; and
  6. enacting policy designed to promote affordable access to water for the city’s residents.

The Supreme Court’s decision came after a months-long legal battle over whether Detroit could vote on a charter revision ballot measure without the governor’s approval.

It began last February when the Detroit Charter Revision Commission, which was created by 2018’s Proposal R, completed its draft of the revised charter. The draft was approved by Detroit’s City Clerk in March and then sent to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer according to the Michigan Home Rule Cities Act. Gov. Whitmer declined to approve the revised charter and returned it with feedback. Attorney General Dana Nessel said that Proposal P could remain on the ballot despite the lack of approval from Gov. Whitmer, and the Detroit Elections Commission certified Proposal P in May.

Following Proposal P’s certification, two lawsuits were filed seeking to block the measure from the ballot. The lawsuits argued that the Home Rule Cities Act (HRCA) required Gov. Whitmer’s approval to put Proposal P on the ballot. The defendants argued that the HRCA didn’t explicitly require the governor’s approval for certifying a charter revision ballot measure.

The Wayne County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on May 26. The Detroit Charter Revision Commission filed appeals with the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court. On June 3, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the Wayne County Circuit Court’s decision. These rulings would have struck Proposal P from the August 3 ballot, but the Michigan Supreme Court suspended the Circuit Court’s ruling on June 1 and the Court of Appeals ruling on June 4.



Special primary elections to be held on August 3 in Michigan State Senate Districts 8 and 28

The special primary elections for Michigan State Senate District 8 and 28 are on Aug. 3. The major party candidate filing deadline passed on April 20, and the filing deadline for minor party and independent candidates is Aug. 4. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

District 8

In the Democratic primary, John Bill and Martin Genter are competing to advance to the general election. In the Republican primary, Mary Berlingieri, Bill Carver, Kristi Dean, Grant Golasa, Pamela Hornberger, Terence Mekoski, and Douglas Wozniak are competing to advance to the general election.

Andrew Kamal is running as an independent in the general election.

The special election for District 8 was called after Peter Lucido (R) left office after being elected Macomb County Prosecutor on Nov. 3, 2020. The seat has been vacant since Lucido resigned on Dec. 31. Lucido had served since 2019. 

District 28

Keith Courtade and Gidget Groendyk are competing in the Democratic primary to advance to the general election. In the Republican primary, Tommy Brann, Kevin Green, and Mark Huizenga are competing to advance to the general election.

The special election for District 28 was called after Peter MacGregor (R) left office after being elected Kent County Treasurer on Nov. 3, 2020. The seat has been vacant since MacGregor resigned on Dec. 31. MacGregor had served since 2015.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 20-16 majority in the Michigan State Senate. Michigan has a divided government, and no political party holds astate government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. 

As of July 2021, 46 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Since 2010, Michigan has held 16 state legislative special elections. 

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Initiative to repeal Michigan law granting governor emergency powers heads to state legislature

The Michigan State Legislature approved the indirect initiative that repealed the Emergency Powers of Governor Act. On July 15, 2021, the Michigan State Senate voted 20-15 to approve the initiated measure. Senate Republicans voted to pass the initiated measure, and Senate Democrats voted against the proposal. On July 21, 2021, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 60-48 to approve the initiated measure. House Republicans, along with four House Democrats, supported the proposal. The remaining 48 House Democrats opposed the initiated measure. The governor cannot veto the legislature’s approval of an indirect citizen-initiated measure.



Redistricting review: Michigan Supreme Court declines to extend redistricting deadlines

In this week’s Redistricting Review, we cover news out of Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Michigan: On July 9, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission’s request to extend the constitutional deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans. The constitutional deadlines – presentation to the public by Sept. 17 and adoption by Nov. 1 – remain in effect.

In light of the delayed delivery of detailed redistricting data by the U.S. Census Bureau, the commission argued that it would “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline.” Instead, the commission asked the state supreme court to direct the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days thereafter.

The state supreme court asked the Office of the Attorney General to assemble two separate teams to make arguments, one team in support of the commission’s request and another opposed. The court heard oral arguments on June 21. Deputy Solicitor General Ann Sherman, speaking in support of the proposed deadline extensions, said “The very maps themselves could be challenged if they are drawn after the November 1 deadline.” Assistant Attorney General Kyla Barranco, speaking in opposition, said, “There isn’t harm in telling the commission at this point, ‘Try your best with the data that you might be able to use and come September 17, maybe we’ll have a different case.'”

In its unsigned July 9 order, the court said that it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.” Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote a concurrence, in which she said, “The Court’s decision is not a reflection on the merits of the questions briefed or how this Court might resolve a future case raising similar issues. It is indicative only that a majority of this Court believes that the anticipatory relief sought is unwarranted.”

In response to the court’s order, Edward Woods III, the commission’s communications and outreach director, said that the commission would follow its draft timeline, under which the public input period opens on Aug. 30 and closes on Sept. 30 – past the Sept. 17 constitutional deadline. This suggests that further litigation on the matter might occur.

New York: On July 12, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission (NYIRC) announced that public hearings will begin on July 20. A full list of hearing dates can be accessed here. NYIRC also said it would release its first redistricting proposal on Sept. 15.

Pennsylvania: On July 12, redistricting authorities in Pennsylvania launched a redistricting website and announced a schedule for public hearings on congressional redistricting, the first of which will take place on July 22. A full list of hearing dates can be accessed here.

Additional reading:

Redistricting in Michigan after the 2020 census

Redistricting in New York after the 2020 census

Redistricting in Pennsylvania after the 2020 census



Initiative to repeal Michigan law granting governor emergency powers heads to state legislature

The Michigan State Legislature will have 40 days to approve an initiated measure to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act (EPGA), also known as Public Act 302 (PA 302) of 1945. The EPGA was designed to empower the governor to issue rules and regulations to bring emergencies under control and protect life and allow violations of these rules and regulations to be punished as misdemeanors. The initiated measure is an indirect initiative, meaning the legislature can approve the initiative, without the governor’s signature needed, or have the initiative go before voters at the election on November 8, 2022. Republicans control both chambers of the Michigan State Legislature, and simple majorities are needed in each chamber to pass the initiative.

In June 2020, about three months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued the first coronavirus-related disaster declaration, the campaign Unlock Michigan filed the proposal. On October 2, 2020, the campaign reported submitting 539,000 signatures. Also on October 2, the Michigan Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, struck down the EPGA as violating the state constitution. While the Supreme Court rendered the EPGA moot, Unlock Michigan continued to advocate for the law’s repeal to prevent the court from issuing a different opinion on the law in the future. On April 19, 2021, elections staff reported that, based on a random sample, a projected 460,358 signatures were valid. The minimum number of required signatures was 340,047.

On April 22, 2021, the Board of State Canvassers voted 2-2 on certifying the petition as sufficient. The divided vote meant that the motion failed. The Board’s two Republicans voted in favor, and the Board’s two Democrats voted in opposition. On June 11, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Board “has a clear legal duty to certify the petition,” which the Board did on July 13, 2021.

Fred Wszolek, spokesperson for Unlock Michigan, responded to the initiative’s certification, saying, “We’re looking forward to the next and final step on this long road: passage by the Michigan House and Senate of our initiative to repeal this law so abused by Gov. Whitmer.” Mark Fisk, spokesperson for the opposition campaign Keep Michigan Safe, also responded, “Unlock Michigan’s brazen partisan power grab will further reduce our state’s ability to save lives during public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic and handcuff future generations of leaders from acting decisively in times of crises.”

The campaign Unlock Michigan received $2.81 million through April 20, 2021. Donors included the nonprofits Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility ($1.78 million) and Michigan! My Michigan! ($450,000), as well as University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser ($100,000). Opponents of the proposal organized Keep Michigan Safe, which received $843,180, including $750,000 from the nonprofit organization Road To Michigan’s Future.

On July 13, the Board of State Canvassers also approved language for Unlock Michigan’s second ballot initiative, allowing the campaign to begin a signature drive. After the Michigan Supreme Court struck down the EPGA, Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health were able to continue emergency regulations under Public Health Code. Unlock Michigan’s new proposal would limit state and local epidemic emergency orders to 28 days unless the jurisdiction’s legislative body approves a resolution to continue the emergency order. 

In May, Pennsylvania became the first state to vote on a governor’s emergency powers following coronavirus-related regulations. Voters approved two constitutional amendments allowing the legislature to extend or terminate the governor’s emergency declaration by a simple majority vote and limiting the governor’s emergency declaration to 21 days. 

Additional reading:

Ballot measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and coronavirus-related regulations

Michigan Limits on Epidemic Emergency Orders Initiative (2022)

Michigan 2022 ballot measures



Michigan, West Virginia end statewide face-covering requirements

Two states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between June 18-24.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ended most remaining statewide coronavirus restrictions, including the statewide mask mandate, on June 22. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports).

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) ended the statewide mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals on June 20. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs. 

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. At the time of writing, 10 states had statewide mask orders. All 10 states have Democratic governors. Nine of the 10 states exempted fully vaccinated people from most requirements.

Of the 29 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 16 have Republican governors, and 13 have Democratic governors. Twenty-six states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.



Colorado commission releases draft congressional district maps; Louisiana lawmakers adopt redistricting criteria; and Michigan Supreme Court considers deadline extension

The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission released preliminary congressional district maps on June 23, making Colorado the first state in the current redistricting cycle to produce a draft congressional plan. The commission will now conduct at least three public hearings on the proposed maps in each of the state’s current congressional districts. This makes for a total of at least 21 public hearings, all of which must also be broadcast online.

After public hearings conclude, the commission can take a vote on the preliminary map or ask commission staff to make revisions. In order to enact a map, eight of the commission’s 12 members (including at least two unaffiliated members) must approve of it. The Colorado Supreme Court must also approve the map.

The Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives and the President of the Louisiana State Senate signed HCR90 on June 10, a concurrent resolution outlining the “minimally acceptable criteria for consideration of redistricting plans.” The resolution prohibits district-to-district population deviations exceeding 5% of the ideal district population for state legislative district plans. The resolution also requires that lawmakers use census data for redistricting purposes (not American Community Survey data, which some states have used or are considering using).

On June 21, the Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a request by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to extend the state’s constitutional deadline for adopting new redistricting plans.

Under the Michigan Constitution, the commission is required to adopt new redistricting plans by November 1. It is also required to publish plans for public comment by September 17. However, in light of the delayed delivery of detailed redistricting data by the U.S. Census Bureau, the commission argues that it will “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline.” Instead, the commission is asking that the state supreme court issue an order directing the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days thereafter.

The state supreme court asked the Office of the Attorney General to assemble two separate teams to make arguments, one team in support of the commission’s request and another opposed. The court heard oral arguments on June 21. Deputy Solicitor General Ann Sherman, speaking in support of the proposed deadline extensions, said, “The very maps themselves could be challenged if they are drawn after the November 1 deadline.” Assistant Attorney General Kyla Barranco, speaking in opposition, said, “There isn’t harm in telling the commission at this point, ‘Try your best with the data that you might be able to use and come September 17, maybe we’ll have a different case.'”

The court did not indicate when it would issue a decision in the matter.

Additional reading:



Detroit to hold mayoral primary on Aug. 3

Ten candidates are running in a nonpartisan primary election for mayor of Detroit, Michigan, on Aug. 3. Media coverage has focused on incumbent Mike Duggan and challengers Anthony Adams and Tom Barrow. Kiawana Brown, Myya Jones, Jasahn Larsosa, Charleta McInnis, Danetta Simpson, Art Tyus, and Dallias Wilcoxon are also running. The top two candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 2.

Duggan was first elected mayor in 2013 when he defeated opponent Benny Napoleon (D) 55% to 45%. In 2017, he was reelected by a margin of nearly 44 points, defeating Coleman Young II (D) 71.6% to 27.8%.

Before becoming mayor, Duggan was president and CEO of Detroit Medical Center from 2004 to 2012. He was assistant corporation counsel for Wayne County from 1985 to 1986, deputy Wayne County executive from 1987 to 2000, and Wayne County prosecutor from 2000 to 2001. Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) and former gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed (D) have endorsed Duggan. Duggan said that, if re-elected, he would “work every day to continue to make sure every neighborhood has a future and every Detroiter has a true opportunity to achieve your dreams.”

Adams is an attorney and was deputy mayor of Detroit under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D). He was also an executive assistant to Mayor Coleman Young, was a board member and general counsel for Detroit Public Schools, and was interim director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Adams said his “extensive leadership experience, unwavering commitment, and enlightened skill-set uniquely position him to move the city of Detroit forward” and he is “committed to serving the ordinary people of Detroit and not Special Interest Groups.”

Barrow is a practicing certified public accountant, led the civic group Citizens for Detroit’s Future, and was an advocate for changes to the municipal election system. This is Barrow’s fifth mayoral run and the second time he has competed against Duggan. In his four previous campaigns, Barrow advanced from the primary to the general election three times: in 1985, 1989, and 2009. Barrow said he would run a campaign based on local pride: “Detroit is in my DNA. Detroit is a city I love and respect deeply. People know that I care, that I will look out for them and will protect them and not allow them to be misused.”

Economic development and public safety have been major issues in the race. Duggan said he would work with the city council and manufacturers to bring more high-paying jobs into the city. Adams said he would support a universal basic income plan and an income-based water billing system and emphasized early intervention as a means to reduce crime. Barrow also supported a water affordability program for Detroit residents and said neighborhood revitalization projects should focus on a broader area and not just downtown.

The city of Detroit uses a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive. The mayor is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and committee members and overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations. The mayor also possesses veto powers, though the Detroit city charter establishes procedures whereby city council may override mayoral vetoes under certain circumstances.

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Redistricting review: Georgia, Maryland, and Michigan hold public redistricting hearings

Redistricting authorities in at least three states held hearings about their respective redistricting processes in the past week. Here’s a roundup.

Georgia: Last week, Georgia lawmakers announced a schedule for public redistricting hearings, the first of which took place virtually on June 15. Ten more public hearings are scheduled, with the next taking place in Atlanta on June 28 and the last taking place virtually on July 30. In Georgia, the state legislature is responsible for both state legislative and congressional redistricting. District plans are subject to gubernatorial veto. According to WABE, an NPR affiliate in Atlanta, a special legislative session on redistricting “is expected later this year.”

Maryland: On June 16, the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission held its second public hearing, which took place virtually. It is expected to hold at least six more public hearings between now and July 28. The Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was formed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) via executive order, is expected to submit proposals for congressional and state legislative district plans to Hogan, who will in turn submit those proposals to the state legislature. The state legislature can accept the proposed state legislative district plan as submitted or adopt its own by joint resolution, which is not subject to gubernatorial veto. If the legislature fails to approve its own state legislative district plan, the governor’s proposal takes effect. Congressional district plans are adopted solely by the legislature and may be vetoed by the governor.

Michigan: The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission conducted two public hearings, one on June 15 and one on June 17, both in Detroit. The commission is scheduled to conduct four more hearings between now and July 1. The commission was established in 2018 via constitutional amendment. This is the first cycle in which the commission will have responsibility for both congressional and state legislative redistricting.

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