March 17, 2011- Yesterday, thousands of Main Street Movement protesters marched on the Michigan Capitol to protest Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) constitutionally flawed assault on Michigan workers. Michigan’s voters, however, can do far more than simply make their displeasure known to Snyder and his allies in the state legislature. Michigan’s constitution is unusually easy to amend, and Snyder and his allies become eligible for a recall in just over three months.
The state House and Senate Minority Leaders have already called for a state constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining rights, but Michigan voters can bypass the legislature altogether and call for a constitutional amendment by petition and referendum. According to the state constitution,
§ 2 Amendment by petition and vote of electors.
Sec. 2. Amendments may be proposed to this constitution by petition of the registered electors of this state. Every petition shall include the full text of the proposed amendment, and be signed by registered electors of the state equal in number to at least 10 percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected. … Any amendment proposed by such petition shall be submitted, not less than 120 days after it was filed, to the electors at the next general election. … If the proposed amendment is approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question, it shall become part of the constitution, and shall abrogate or amend existing provisions of the constitution at the end of 45 days after the date of the election at which it was approved.
In short, this means slightly over 300,000 signatures are required to place an amendment protecting workers’ rights on the ballot. Once the proposed amendment is on the ballot, a simple majority of the electorate can turn it into law.