State Sen. Mike Shirkey hosted a public town hall Oct. 25 at Hillsdale County Senior Services to inform attendees about the content of the three ballot proposals and discuss them with the crowd.
Despite the complexity of the proposals, Shirkey said that citizens have to know about them.
Shirkey began the town hall by defining the three proposals. Proposal 1, which intends to legalize recreational marijuana for people who are 21 and over, could be a statute, he said, meaning a citizen initiated law. If it were to become law, any desired changes would require three-fourths votes from both the senate and the house. Even if it’s nearly perfect, it will require amendments, he said. He referred to Michigan’s legalization of medical marijuana in 2008 to emphasize the length of the amendment process.
“I harken you back to 2008, when we, citizens of Michigan, passed legalizing medical marijuana,” Shirkey said. “It was flawed, but it passed. It took us nine years to fix most of the flaws because it took that long to get three-fourths vote in both chambers to do so.”
Shirkey explained Proposals 2 and 3 as citizen-initiated constitutional amendments which, according to his opinion, require a higher level of scrutiny. He said all three proposals had supporters paying for signature collectors and majority of the three proposals’ funding in collecting signatures were done by people with money, outside of Michigan.
State Rep. Eric Leutheuser shared a few remarks as well.
“This is his attempt to provide factual information in a non-partisan way as your senator, not as a candidate,” Leutheuser said. “Tonight, we’re here as officials to try to provide information.”
Leutheuser said out of all three proposals, he is mostly interested in the third one.
Victoria Powell, a member of the League of Women Voters in Ann Arbor, volunteered to speak on behalf of her organization’s support of Proposal 3, which provides several means of automatic registration for voters as well as other new voting guidelines.
“It came about because we are tied, with Mississippi, to be the worst state in the union to make it for people to vote in the state,” Powell said.
Leutheuser emphasized one of the most important properties of Proposal 3 is that it changes the state constitution. In order to make further changes to this proposal, another similar proposal is required to make through both chambers of state legislature.
“This isn’t just a law, it’s a change to the Constitution which is a difficult change in the future,” Leutheuser said. “I did want to point out it’s fairly complicated.”
After answering some questions, Shirkey spoke about Proposal 2 and how it’s commission will be of voters, not politicians. As proposed, the law requires a redrawing of district lines each year and supports anti-gerrymandering by forming a committee which would conduct the redistricting.
“The most important thing here is there will be numerous town meetings. No decision will ever be reached unless the public is aware and can give input,” Powell said. “So the point is, it is transparent and it is fair.”
Shirkey stated some of the benefits from passing this law could include tax revenues, paying for public infrastructure, decrease the black market for marijuana, and lower criminal activity.
“The reason for the modest tax is if you raise the tax too high and make it legal, then it’ll become a black market,” Shirkey said.
He later mentioned his dislike for this proposal because passing it could increase children’s access to the drug.
“Our kids don’t need more ways to destroy their lives,” Shirkey said. “They don’t need more distractions, don’t need needs more things that take away their focus form the things they need to focus on.”
Overall, Shirkey said he was pleased with the turnout and encouraged attendees to vote in the upcoming election.
“We’re the United States, we have to have a vote,” he said.