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Re: SG-W:/ Home-Rule Ballot Initiative

If the MML proposal makes it onto the ballot, environmentalists and land
use activists will need to think hard about its pros and cons.  It's not an
open-and-shut case.

The proposal was initiated by Dennis Archer after the legislature passed a
bill that prohibits cities from requiring that their employees live within
city boundaries.  These kinds of laws are common, especially in large urban
areas.  Archer was horrified that some Detroit employees might move to the
suburbs in a year when city officials are trying to make sure every single
resident is counted in the census, so the city doesn't dip below the
one-million population figure.  If it did, the city would lose out on an
enormous amount of revenue sharing funds.

The city employee bill was enacted at virtually the same time as the
"right-to-farm" bill mentioned by Tina.  The latter bill was fought
vigorously by state environmentalists because it appeared to protect the
interest of large animal feeding operations (like the huge "hog hotels" in
North Carolina which have caused awful water quality problems) than small
family farms.  The MML proposal would presumably apply to this sort of bill

I would argue that, in most cases, state government only steps into local
issues when influential business interests are being challenged.  In recent
years, the Michigan Legislature passed a law which preempted local
pesticide ordinances (which invalidated about eight such ordinances) and
another law which preempted local wetlands ordinances (which invalidated or
changed about 20 such ordinances).  I suspect that the MML proposal would
protect innovative and progressive local ordinances like these.  The
problem, of course, is that many local governments are unfriendly to
environmentalists, and that regional land use planning would be a smarter
approach than our current, highly fractured, township-by-township process.
So I guess you have to roll the dice on this proposal, and try to answer
the question:  Who is more likely over the long haul to be a more forceful
agent of positive environmental change:  Michigan's 1800 local units of
government or the state legislature and governor?  I think I'd stand a
better chance of winning big at one of Dennis Archer's new casinos than
answering that question correctly.


>To all,
>I sent Christina some info on the Michigan Municipal League's ballot
>proposal and neglected to send it to the entire list.  Below is the message
>I sent to her on Sunday.  Her message of this morning (Local Control) is in
>response to that email.  Sorry for any confusion it may have caused.
>Christina and others,
>The ballot initiative was put forth by the Michigan Municipal League, made
>up of local governments throughout the state.  I must say I am skeptical,
>based on the info at their web site located at:
>http://www.mml.org/progserv/sfad/ballot_initiative/main.htm.  Here is a copy
>of the press release announcing the ballot initiative effort:
>25 January 2000, Lansing - Let Local Votes Count, an initiative by Michigan'
>s local governments, announced today it is starting a petition drive to
>place the home rule issue on the November ballot.
>Let Local Votes Count believes local government has the right to make its
>own laws and ordinances rather than apply statewide legislation enacted
>without regard for local needs or resources. The coalition's proposed ballot
>question would amend the constitution so a two-thirds majority in both the
>Senate and the House would be required to pass a bill that intervenes in
>municipal matters.
>"The state doesn't like it when Congress passes down mandates without regard
>for Michigan's true issues or resources," said Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer,
>who spoke at today's press conference at Lansing City Hall. "But the state
>is trying to do the same thing to us. This ballot question would limit the
>Legislature's ability to create policies out of touch with local citizens'
>Archer was joined by Lansing Mayor David Hollister, Grandville Mayor Jim
>Buck and George Goodman, executive director of the Michigan Municipal
>"We believe Michigan voters will support an amendment to the constitution
>that would make it harder for the Legislature to impose its will on local
>governments," explained Goodman, whose organization represents Michigan's
>cities and villages. "Let the people of the state decide in November and
>send a message to their legislators that local values should be decided
>Let Local Votes Count anticipates opposition from business interests who
>want fewer local laws and more "one-size-fits-all" state laws they believe
>will make it easier to operate in different communities, according to
>Goodman. But Mayors Buck and Hollister emphasized this isn't a local
>government vs. business issue.
>"This is about preservation of home rule, something we're already given in
>the state constitution," said Hollister. "Many local units enjoy good
>relationships with their business community and don't want to jeopardize
>Approximately 300,000 petition signatures will be needed by July 10 to place
>the issue on the November ballot.
>For those of us who care about environmental issues, I think this could be
>potentially dangerous in the hands of those local governments who do not
>view local control the same as we may.
>Jeff Surfus
>smartgrowth-washtenaw:  Internet List and Forum for issues relating to
>sprawl, smart growth, and preservation of the quality of life in Washtenaw
>Postings to:  smartgrowth-washtenaw@great-lakes.net      For info, send
>email to majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info

Mike Garfield
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(734) 761-3186 ext. 104
(734) 663-2414 (fax)

smartgrowth-washtenaw:  Internet List and Forum for issues relating to
sprawl, smart growth, and preservation of the quality of life in Washtenaw

Postings to:  smartgrowth-washtenaw@great-lakes.net      For info, send
email to majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info