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Stories about Michigan

Michigan board approves circulation of recall petition against state attorney general

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on October 15 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). The board previously rejected five recall petitions against Nessel in 2020. Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 1,046,006 signatures within a 60-day period to require a recall election. The 60 days begin on the first day that signatures are collected. The recall petition must be submitted to the office of the Michigan Secretary of State no later than 180 days after it was approved by the board.

The recall petition was submitted by Chad Baase on September 25. Michigan laws state that the reason for recall must be deemed factual and clear by the Board of State Canvassers before the recall petition can be placed in circulation. The board does not document a rationale for their determination, only the judgment of rejected or approved.

The recall petition criticizes Nessel over her announced plans of ramping up efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) Executive Order 2020-148. The executive order provided enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Baase has filed 12 recall petitions against four statewide officials. Five have been approved for circulation, five were rejected in clarity hearings, and two were withdrawn.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, four statewide officials in Michigan have seen recall petitions submitted against them. In total, 31 recall petitions have targeted the four officials. In comparison, Ballotpedia tracked no recall efforts against any Michigan statewide official in 2019.

This year, Whitmer has had 20 recall petitions submitted against her. Nine of those petitions have been approved for circulation, 10 efforts were rejected, and one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner. Two recall petitions have been introduced against Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D). One petition has been approved for circulation, and the other was rejected. Three recall petitions have also been introduced against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). One effort has been approved for circulation, one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner, and the other was rejected.

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

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Nondelegation doctrine resurfaces in challenge to Michigan coronavirus orders

The Michigan Supreme Court on October 2 revived the nondelegation doctrine in an opinion holding in part that Michigan’s Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) unconstitutionally delegates legislative power to the executive branch.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) claimed that the declared states of emergency and disaster in response to the coronavirus pandemic authorized her to issue executive orders instituting coronavirus-related restrictions. Whitmer stated that the EPGA and the Emergency Management Act (EMA) allowed her to extend those emergency declarations without the state legislature’s approval.

Medical groups filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan to challenge an executive order, since rescinded, that placed restrictions on nonessential medical and dental procedures.

The district court asked the Michigan Supreme Court to consider in part whether the EPGA or the EMA violated the nondelegation doctrine.

The majority held that the EMPGA violated the nondelegation doctrine because it delegated lawmaking authority to the executive branch. Justice Stephen Markman wrote in the majority opinion, “[T]he EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government— including its plenary police powers— and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely.”

Justices McCormick, Bernstein, and Cavanagh, and Bernstein disagreed with the majority’s conclusion. The justices claimed that the United States Supreme Court and the Michigan Supreme Court have historically applied the nondelegation doctrine via a “standards” test (i.e. intelligible principle test) that only strikes down delegations of authority without guiding standards for agency discretion. The delegations of authority under the EPGA, the justices argued, contained sufficient guiding standards.

Justice Viviano agreed with the majority’s holding and suggested that the court in future cases adopt the nondelegation doctrine approach put forth by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch in _Gundy v. United States_, which focuses on whether Congress delegated lawmaking power to the executive rather than whether Congress provided a guiding standard.

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Michigan school board recall approved to circulate petitions after earlier rejection this year

A petition seeking to recall Margaret Weertz and Chris Lee from their positions as members of the Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board of Education in Michigan was approved for circulation by the Wayne County Election Commission at a clarity hearing on September 16, 2020. This approval came after an earlier petition against the same two board members had been rejected on June 30 at another clarity hearing.

Both recall petitions were filed by Monica Palmer, a resident of Grosse Pointe Woods. On the new petition, the reasons for recall included the two board members voting in favor of the district’s reconfiguration plan, voting to approve a $2.1 million construction contract for the district’s Rocket Fiber project, and voting in favor of extending Superintendent Gary Niehaus’ contract. The reasons for recall listed on the prior petition had included the same votes. Palmer said, “There’s a handful of people that feel enough is enough. There’s a lot of them in the community feeling like they’re not being heard. They’re not liking the way the administration is taking the school system. That is the Board of Education’s job. They are supposed to be directing the administration.”

In reaction to the new recall effort, Lee said he had no intention of giving up his seat and planned to run in the recall election if it went that far. “There’s a group out there that are doing everything they can to bring down the school system. They get some delight in making trouble. This is not right,” Lee said.

Weertz said, “I never met Mrs. Palmer, and I don’t know what she has against me. It would be common courtesy if she called and told me her grievances. I actually believe this is a well-funded group that wants to undo the democratic process.”

Weertz was elected to the board in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, and Lee was first elected to the board in 2018. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 7,646 signatures.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Michigan board approves secretary of state recall for circulation

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on September 24 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 1,046,006 signatures within a 60-day period to require a recall election. The 60 days begin on the first day that signatures are collected. The recall petition must be submitted to the office of Michigan’s secretary of state no later than 180 days after it was approved by the board.

The recall petition was submitted by Chad Baase and was approved for circulation by the board by a 4-0 vote. Michigan laws state that the reason for recall must be deemed factual and clear by the Board of State Canvassers before the recall petition can be placed in circulation. The board does not document a rationale for their determination, only the judgment of rejected or approved. The recall petition criticizes Benson over an announcement that her office would be mailing out postcards to Michigan voters that encouraged them to apply online to vote from home in the upcoming November general election.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also voted on a recall against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). The recall was submitted by Baase, and the board voted 4-0 to reject the petition language. The recall petition criticized Nessel over plans “to ramp enforcement of Covid-19 related restrictions at long-term care facilities.” According to the board, the recall petition was rejected because the language made it unclear who would be imposing the restrictions on the long-term care facilities.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, four statewide officials in Michigan have seen recall petitions submitted against them to the Board of State Canvassers. In total, 30 recall petitions have targeted the four officials. In comparison, Ballotpedia tracked no recall efforts against any Michigan statewide official in 2019.

This year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has had 20 recall petitions submitted against her. Nine of those petitions have been approved for circulation, 10 efforts were rejected, and one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner. Benson has seen two other recall petitions submitted against her. One recall effort was withdrawn by the petitioner, and the other was rejected by the board. Two recall petitions have also been introduced against Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D). One petition has been approved by the board, and the other was rejected. Nessel saw four other recall petitions submitted against her. All four petitions were rejected by the board.

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

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All candidates in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District election complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D), Paul Junge (R), and Joe Hartman (L) are running in the election for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District. Voters can now read Candidate Connection survey responses from all three candidates.

Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

One question in the survey asks candidates to list three key messages of their campaigns. Here is one response from each candidate.

Slotkin: “I am focused on the issues my constituents ask me about the most: The price of health care and prescription drugs; protecting the water in our lakes and streams and coming out of our taps; creating good jobs and economic opportunity; and bringing some decency and civility to politics.” Read Slotkin’s full survey responses here.

Junge: “Support our families and a strong economy by opposing tax increases, stopping costly liberal regulations, and cutting wasteful spending to move toward a balanced budget.” Read Junge’s full survey responses here.

Hartman: “Decentralization of Political Power.” Read Hartman’s full survey responses here.

Michigan’s 8th Congressional district is one of 30 House Districts represented by a Democrat in 2020 that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016. Slotkin was first elected in 2018, defeating former Rep. Mike Bishop (R) 51%-47%.

To read more about the 8th District’s general election, click here: Michigan’s 8th Congressional District election, 2020

To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here: Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection


Three candidates in Michigan’s U.S. Senate election complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Incumbent Gary Peters (D), John James (R), and Marcia Squier (Green Party) completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Peters was first elected in 2014 when he won his election by a margin of 13.3 percentage points. James challenged Michigan’s other U.S. Senator, Debbie Stabenow (D), in 2018 and lost by a margin of 6.5 percentage points. As of July 15, Peters’ campaign had raised $21,809,255 while James’ campaign had raised $20,493,428.

Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

We asked the candidates, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?”

Peters: “1) Ensuring Michigan Families Have Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care Coverage,” “2) Rebuilding Our Economy,” and “3) Protecting the Great Lakes.”

James: “1. Education and Entrepreneurship,” “2. Foreign Policy,” and “3. Public Health.”

Squier: “Women’s Rights, Minority Rights, Domestic Violence Awareness & Prevention, Environmental Restoration & Preservation, Noninterventionist Military Policies, and ending the War on Drugs.”

When asked what they perceived as the United States’ greatest challenges as a nation over the next decade, the candidates’ responses were:

Peters: “A critical challenge facing our country is rebuilding our economy and working to develop a comprehensive national strategic plan for American manufacturing to ensure Michiganders have good-paying jobs and addressing the glaring vulnerabilities in our medical supply chain.”

James: “Our first challenge is partisanship– we need leaders who are proven unifiers because partisanship is tearing the Nation apart. After that, Americans are hurting and scared right now. Whether it’s concern for their health well-being, concern about inequality, or simply hopelessness associated with financial anxiety and socio-economic immobility.”

Squier: “I believe our greatest challenges as a nation over the next decade will be difficult to face and overcome if we don’t unite as a collective for the greater good. Once united, we can overcome issues like corporate greed, pollution, election integrity, education, healthcare, systemic racism, police brutality, and overbloated, top-heavy military budgets.”

In 2018, 1,957 candidates completed a Candidate Connection survey. This number represents 6.9% of all 28,315 candidates Ballotpedia covered during that cycle. Out of the 1,957 respondents, 477 (24.4%) won their elections.

To read the candidates’ responses and learn more about the race, click here: United States Senate election in Michigan, 2020

To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here: Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection


Candidates advance from Democratic and Republican conventions in Michigan

In Michigan, the Democratic Party and Republican Party both held their nominating conventions for state supreme court and state executive offices on August 29, 2020. Candidates were nominated to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Candidates were selected for nomination to the following offices:
• Michigan Supreme Court (2 seats)
• Michigan State Board of Education (2 seats)
• University of Michigan Board of Regents (2 seats)
• Michigan State University Board of Trustees (2 seats)

• Wayne State University Board of Governors (2 seats)

In the state supreme court election, one incumbent—Bridget Mary McCormack—filed for re-election and advanced to the general election as one of two candidates nominated by the Democratic Party. In Michigan, state supreme court candidates are nominated in partisan primaries, but the general election is nonpartisan.

In the state executive races, four incumbents filed for re-election and four were confirmed as nominees to advance to the general election. Four incumbents did not file for re-election.

The remaining candidates up for election to these offices were selected by the following parties at their respective nominating conventions:
• Green Party: June 20, 2020
• Libertarian Party: July 18, 2020
• U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan: July 25, 2020

• Natural Law Party: July 30, 2020

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Voters decide local ballot measures in Wayne County, Michigan

Voters in Wayne County, Michigan, approved two property tax renewal propositions on Tuesday. Proposition O, the Operating Budget Property Tax Renewal, was approved with 77% of the vote. Proposition O authorizes the county to renew for 10 years a property tax levy of $95.29 per $100,000 in assessed property tax value to generate an annual estimated $42 million for the county’s operations and services.

Proposition P, the Parks Property Tax Renewal, was approved with 78% of the vote. Proposition P authorizes the county to renew for four years a property tax levy of $24.59 per $100,000 in assessed property tax value to generate an annual estimated $10.9 million for parks. Both measures were referred to the ballot by a vote of the Wayne County Commissioners.

Voters in the Detroit Public Schools Community District renewed a non-homestead property tax levy with 85% of voters approving the measure. The measure authorizes the district to renew for 11 years a property tax levy of $1,800 per $100,000 in assessed property tax value on property except for primary residences to generate an annual estimated $65 million for the district. It was first authorized in 2016.

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Tlaib defeats Jones in Michigan’s 13th District Democratic primary

Incumbent Rep. Rashida Tlaib defeated Brenda Jones in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Democratic primary. With 90% of precincts reporting, Tlaib had received 66% of the vote to Jones’ 34%.

The primary was a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.


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