If you aren’t just thrilled

…with both the Republicans and the Democrats, you should vote NO on MI Proposal 18-3.

How Third Parties Are Getting Screwed This Election Season

As that link points out, it’s not only straight ticket voting which locks in the status quo, but that is one good way to make sure your only choice will continue to be between the Trumps and the Clintons of the world.

The straight ticket voting option is one of the things Prop 3 cements into the Michigan Constitution.

MI Prop 2 – NO. Prop 3 – NO.

I’m generally suspicious of ballot-initiative changes to Michigan’s Constitution, and we’re facing some especially ill-advised Constitutional change Proposals in this election.

Proposal 2 is intended to fix a re-districting problem, and taps into the general suspicion of government and a burgeoning populist sentiment.

A “no” vote opposes transfering [sic] the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to an independent redistricting commission.
More from Ballotopedia

“Independent” sounds good, but the devil is in the details. This proposal’s major flaw is vagueness, followed closely by unnecessary complication.

Here is a link to a neutral analysis from The Mackinac Center. I am not presenting both sides here, since it’s well done at the link, but I will quote briefly from the section on arguments against Prop 2. If you want the pros, too, click here.

Many terms in Proposal 2 do not appear to be clearly defined. For instance, the secretary of state would be required “to ensure that [applicants for the commission], as closely as possible, mirror the geographic and demographic makeup of the state.” A number of different demographical factors could be used for this purpose, including age, race, income, gender, education level, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. Yet, the proposal is silent about which ones matter. Presumably, this question will be left to the discretion of the secretary of state.

Another potentially problematic concept is “communities of interest,” which districts drawn by the commission are required to “reflect.” Although the proposal states that these could be populations that share “cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests,” it also states that communities of interests “shall not be limited to” these definitions — essentially making it an open-ended term. And while 24 other states use this term or something similar in their redistricting guidelines, most provide either a more concrete definition or qualify this requirement with phrases like “to the extent feasible” or “where practicable.”21 By including these poorly defined concepts and others, Proposal 2 may inadvertently grant the secretary of state a significant amount of power over the redistricting process.* Further, ill-defined concepts are fertile ground for litigation, and the proposed commission’s maps may be continually challenged in court…

Proposal 2 would create a completely new redistricting process and commission. Michigan would join the few states that use a similar mechanism for redistricting. Taking this step may be unnecessary, and a simpler alternative might fix the Michigan Constitution to make the original redistricting rules established in 1963 valid and functional again. These original redistricting rules were deemed unconstitutional because they required redistricting officials to considered both population and land area when determining district boundaries.22 Removing land area from the redistricting formula would likely render these rules constitutional.

We’ve seen what regulatory discretion can do at the Federal level when it is bounded by vague constraints. Congress turned over so much legislative authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services that Obamacare’s provisions are interpreted according to who occupies the White House. This is also true, for example, of regulation under Title IX, regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. This is not how the rule of law works. It makes the law explicitly political.

No matter your political leanings, you can certainly imagine a Michigan Secretary of State whose definitions of “age, race, income, gender, education level, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion” would make you uncomfortable. You would also probably be wary of what a person who opposes your preferred outcomes might do with “communities of interest.”

As for the idea that the proposed redistricting commission would be non-partisan:

Democrats and Republicans on the commission will likely vote en bloc, each supporting a single plan submitted by one of their own.

This would result in making the votes of the five members who do not self-identify with either party the determining votes in which plan gets approved.‡ And if no other plans are submitted, these five members will be forced to choose between a Republican-supported plan and a Democrat-supported plan. No matter the outcome, Michigan would still have a new district map designed by partisans. Further, even if one or more nonpartisan members submit a plan for final approval, that plan must get the approval of at least two commission members who are affiliated with one of the major parties. Because these groups will likely vote en bloc, in order for one of these plans to be approved, it must gain the support of either the Democrats or Republicans. So in this scenario too, the approved plan would rely on partisan support.

No, on MI 18-2.

Proposal 3 Constitutionally enshrines: 1) the secret ballot and, 2) that military members and overseas voters receive an absentee ballot at least 45 days before the election.

These are good things, but putting them in the Constitution does not make up for other things Prop 3 places there. In my opinion, they’re there to fool people who would otherwise vote No on Prop 3. They are currently enforced by Michigan legislation, and represent no change in practice. I cannot see any legislative effort to ever change them. Further, those military voting rights are already covered by US Federal law.

More from Ballotopedia

Here are the worst things Prop 3 places in the Michigan Constitution: 1) Election day registration to vote; 2) Mandating the straight-ticket voting option; and 3) Automatic voter registration upon issuance of a State ID/Drivers License.

Overall, Proposal 3 is worse than Prop 2. It weakens the State’s ability to ensure only citizens can vote, and enshrines the idea that some voters are too lazy to check more than one box, and/or too rigidly ideological to vote for candidates not from a single party. Among other things, this greatly reduces the chances we’ll ever elect, for example, Libertarians, Greens, or Democratic Socialists. It’s equally offensive to all possible third parties.

So, No on MI Prop 18-3.

Now, Governor… about "Plan B"?

Michigan Proposal 1-15, the Taxpayer Spoils Division and Extortion Act(s) bipartisan effort to get voters to do the job legislators are paid to do has failed. Ribbentrop and Molotov could not be reached for comment.

The other good news is that a plan to fix Michigan roads without tax increases has been available for a long time – Road Funding: Time for a Change

Figures would have to be adjusted, of course, but the basic principles still apply.


Today is voting day. Stop Proposal 1. If you’re still undecided, read this. And this.


Update 10:28AM: Do you think this: Detroit Education Overhaul Would Cost Other Schools $50 Per Student, is in any way related to the $300 million allocated annually to the K-12 system by the Redistributive Tax Increase Constitutional Amendment Lansing wants approved today?

It’s not about roads, folks.

The Michigan Convolution

Rep. Ray Franz Presentation on Roads: What You Should Know
Includes a good video encapsulation from District 101 Representative Ray Franz. About 20 min.

Proposal 1-15 amends the Michigan Constitution.
It is convoluted.
This will be a low turnout vote.
You have to show up to register your opinion.
There will be a Plan B.

NO! Proposal One

RightMI.com is your ‘go to’ site for Proposal 1 information: More Info On Proposal One. Share that link.

For your convenience, I’ve followed some links from that post and you’ll find them below. I recommend checking the full analyses (fifteen minutes or so each), but I’ve included some shorter references (a couple of minutes) for the time challenged. This is a Constitutional Amendment, people: Understanding the detail is important.

First, from The Mackinac Center, Proposal 1 of 2015: An Analysis. The synopsis.

The full analysis, from which I quote:

Road construction in Michigan is primarily paid for with revenues from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees. Since these taxes are paid by people driving vehicles on public roads, they function as a user fee.

Taxes motorists pay do not meet the strict definition of user fees, however. Vehicle registration taxes for passenger vehicles, for example, are based on their value rather than their estimated wear on the roads. Further, hybrid and electric cars tend to be heavier and thus cause more wear on the roads, but owners of these vehicles buy less fuel and pay less in fuel taxes.

That does not mean drivers of electric/hybrid vehicles get away free. Remember, this isn’t about fixing the roads, it’s about modifying the Constitution to increase taxes. What do you think will happen as we continue to reduce our use of taxable fuel? A tax on miles driven, perhaps? Or, increases in registration fees for electric/hybrids:

Proposal 1 would create higher registration fees for electric vehicles and electric-powered hybrids. Owners of these vehicles would pay an additional $75 on their annual registration fees for vehicles under 8,000 pounds and $200 more for vehicles over 8,000 pounds. This applies to vehicles that are “of a brand or has been modified to be powered solely or predominately by electricity under normal average class operating conditions.”

I also commend to your attention a report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan: Statewide Ballot Issue: Proposal 15-1. Synopsis here.

Full analysis here:

As part of the final agreement, the Legislature intended to earmark a portion of the new revenues generated in FY2016 and FY2017 from the motor fuel tax increases towards paying down current State Trunkline Fund debt tied to past state road building initiatives. The package is estimated to generate just over $1.2 billion during these first two fiscal years from the motor fuel tax increases. Legislative intent was to allocate $400 million in FY2016 and $800 million in FY2017 of the new tax revenue for distribution through the state’s transportation funding formula, most of which would go to state and local road agencies. The remainder (roughly $860 million in FY2016 and $460 million in FY2017) would go to pay down state road debt.

However, the language included in Public Act 468 of 2014 to effectuate this earmark appears to be flawed. The language specifies that “the first $400,000,000.00 received and collected under this act” in FY2016 and “the first $800,000,000.00 received and collected under this act” in FY2017 would be distributed through the state funding formula. But, revenue “received and collected under this act” includes not only the new revenue from the recent legislative changes, but all existing revenue as well. As such, a literal reading of the language would suggest, for instance, that around $1.7 billion (the $800 million intended earmark plus current baseline fuel tax revenue of around $900 million) would be earmarked for debt reduction in FY2016.a Under that reading, FY2016 funding available for formula distribution would actually go down by around $500 million from current levels.

Demonstrating what happens when you write a bill hurriedly and don’t have time to read it before voting.

For those who prefer video, CRC has a Webinar (a little over an hour) on Prop 1-15. This expands on the history of the Michigan Constitutional limitations which brought the legislature to propose a Constitutional Amendment, and why that just places increased future constraint on the Legislature. They’ll be forced to live with what they created, and they may not find that congenial to addressing future funding issues. For example, they are removing $204 million in funding from state universities – do you think that will stand, or will they come back for more taxes when UofM and MSU complain they’re out of money?

Again, thanks to RightMI.com.

NO! to increased taxes

Put another way that’s a 2 Billion dollar tax increase. The good news is, you can say “No!” on May 5th.

Meanwhile, ads for a “Yes” vote on Proposition 1 are increasing in frequency and hysteria. The public/pirate partnership is telling us we can have either this tax increase or killer roads. This is a false choice. We can have good roads without a 2 billion dollar tax increase. The Michigan House of Representatives even produced such a bill, but it got waylaid in the Michigan Senate.

You can tell something about Proposition 1 from the company it keeps. Unions (here, here) & government are in favor, as are road contractors & Chambers of Commerce (here, here, here). Parties with a vested interest will promote their own welfare by trying to convince you they have your interests at heart. In this case, I don’t think the Venn diagram would show a large overlap.

It is interesting that at the state level, the Chamber of Commerce is officially neutral on the question (though James Holcomb, a senior VP of the Michigan Chamber, favors it). Perhaps this is because of a report they commissioned from the Anderson Economic Group LLC, which says, in part:

[T]he issues [with Prop 1-15] include all of the following:

• an increase in the general sales and use tax rates on retail purchases from 6% to 7%;
• a $1.69 billion increase in spending by state and local governments in Michigan, including: an increase in funding for roads, on the order of $1.2 billion per year; for the K-12 system, on the order of $300 million per year; and for local government revenue sharing, on the order of $100 million per year; plus smaller amounts for other purposes;
• a significant weakening of the extent to which road users “pay for” the roads without reliance on other taxpayers;
• an increase in the tax burden on businesses and their retail customers;
• substitution of a cents-per-dollar wholesale tax on fuel used for road-going vehicles, for the current retail tax that is set at a particular cents-per-gallon rate; resulting in a substantial increase in the effective tax burden per gallon and an increase that grows over time;
• increasing registration taxes and causing them to remain the same in succeeding years as in the year of purchase, regardless of the age or value of the vehicle;
• a partial restoration of the Michigan earned income tax credit (MEITC); and
• removal of universities as a constitutionally-allowed use of school aid funds; an implied change in the definition of higher education; and a new authorization to use school aid funds for public “community” and “technical” colleges, scholarships, and related programs.

Additional issues, some of which were undoubtedly unknown to legislators voting on the bills late in the lame duck session, include:

• widely varying tax burdens on fuel users, as certain users will pay both the new, higher motor fuel tax but will not benefit from the motor fuel sales tax exemption;
• serious compliance burdens and enforcement risks for users of fuel for boating, industrial, and other purposes other than driving vehicles on public roads;
• likely federal income tax increase among approximately 1.2 million Michigan households that itemize deductions for state and local property taxes;
• increases in taxes paid by working-poor and working-class households who do not claim the EITC;
• possible infringement of federal nondiscrimination laws regarding state-supported scholarships, should the state use the newly-created authorization to fund “scholarships”
only to “public” community colleges;3
• problems caused by significant increase in the registration tax on older vehicles, including some drivers paying more for this tax than the value of the vehicle; and
• the consequences of requiring the state to commission an “adequacy of funding” study for the K-12 system, which may encourage future lawsuits.

One takeaway: You have to pass it to find out what’s in it.

If you are still wondering about the wisdom of voting against increasing your taxes when you’re being lied to about the redistribution use of the funds, I offer the following items as worth reading:

Vote yes or you all will D-I-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember folks, Prop 1 is a $2,000,000,000 hike with annual tax hike ratchet mechanism on fuel with a whole lotta public sector union payola (everywhere) and fraud embedded into it.

Just Vote Yes, Willya?

So, about three weeks ago, Safe Roads YES! launched their radio and television ad campaign, designed to convince us that jacking up our per-person state tax-and-fee burden by roughly $248.12 – permanently (not including inflation adjustments to the wholesale fuel tax) – is a good idea. To do so, they’re using the standard tactics of bogus statistics and emotional appeals, praying that the typical low-information voter isn’t going to do even the basic homework into the legislative piece of sausage that the GoverNerd and his hodge-podge of allies are doing their damnedest to slide by us roughly six weeks from now.

Taxpayer Cost for Road Fix ‘Compromise’ Went from $0 to $1.9 Billion

According to the House Fiscal Agency, $300 million of the tax increase will go to public schools, $95 million to local government revenue sharing and an additional $130 million in subsidies to local bus agencies. Another $260 million will be used for payments to low-income wage earners, a concession added to get votes from Democratic lawmakers, said Jack McHugh, legislative policy analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

However, there’s a catch: The deal also includes an increase in the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, which must be approved by voters May 5, 2015. If voters say “no” then none of the above will go into effect. Lawmakers will have to start over.

$700 million of it has NOTHING TO DO with roads.

Finally, just how bad are the roads? Apparently, not nearly as bad as MDOT would have you believe, since they base their analysis on self interested subjective criteria and downplay objective metrics. That is, “government entities which stand to directly benefit” from the revenue that would be generated by approval of Proposition 1, find that passing Proposition 1 would be a good idea.

Michigan Roads – How Bad?

Cumulatively, the politically useful PASER pavement rating methodology finds Michigan’s State Trunkline road system to be in far worse condition than the DI / RSL methodology that MDoT actually uses to prioritize road work. A logistic regression – MDoT’s preferred analytical tool – shows that there is a statistically significant variance between the methodologies as they are applied to the State Trunkline system. Either the PASER or the DI / RSL methodology is not properly evaluating Michigan pavement conditions.

Most civil engineers consider RSL to be the ‘gold standard’ of pavement condition evaluation, so PASER ratings, as performed for TAMC, are likely wrong. Should you be inclined to think that the PASER evaluations better represent the condition of Michigan’s roads, ask yourself why MDoT and all the other State DoT’s do not use PASER evaluations to prioritize road work. You would also have to ask yourself why the other instrumented pavement rating methodology, FHWA’s IRI, shows Michigan’s State Trunkline roads to be in even better condition than the DI / RSL methodology…

It only takes a quick look at the charts above to realize that there is something quite wrong with the TAMC PASER road ratings being touted by Proposal 2015-01 supporters. Michigan’s mainstream media are regurgitating these politically useful PASER data as authoritative without any further analysis, so many voters in Michigan are being deceived. Deceit seems to be the modus operandi of Proposal 2015-01 proponents. It is long past time to clear the air by conducting DI / RSL evaluations of non federal aid-eligible roads in Michigan. Then we can discuss a time-limited plan to remediate Michigan’s roads.


Red flag in Senate district 17

The Conservative Evolution of Randy Richardville
The future majority leader of the Michigan Senate wants his critics to know that he is no liberal

He may want us to know that, and he may not be a liberal. What he is not is a conservative. He’s a “Republican” who favors unionization forced by government

As a recent example, he co-sponsored Senate Bill 731, legislation that would transfer $6.6 million in taxpayer money to the SEIU government employee union. It did it by creating a government “employer” for about 42,000 individuals who are hired by elderly or disabled Medicaid recipients. The Mackinac Center has filed a lawsuit over a similar set- up involving home day care providers.

He wants us to focus on the “big picture” and not on his “voting record from 6 years ago.”

OK, let’s. His SEIU subsidy was introduced in 2009.

In the 2010 election cycle Sen. Richardville was the Republican with the third largest donation total from the MEA.

Sen. Richardville also showed favoritism toward public employee unions by introducing Senate Bill 1072. SB 1072 expanded the number of public safety groups which can go to arbitration in contract disputes involving Public Act 312.

Sen. Richardville cast a vote for corporatism in May of 2010, preventing the owners of a Michigan insurance company from selling their own investment.

I suspect he’ll get along fine with Rick Snyder. I hope I’m wrong about Snyder.

All links from Mackinac Center for Public Policy and its Capitol Confidential newsletter. The Mackinac Center deserves your support.