For most Michganians, it comes as something of a surprise that our State Constitution is up for review and revision — even complete replacement — in just 4 years. For most citizens, the idea of entirely replacing their constitution is pretty shocking, but ever since 1963, that’s been the law of the land in the Mitten:

At the general election to be held in the year 1978, and in each 16th year thereafter and at such times as may be provided by law, the question of a general revision of the constitution shall be submitted to the electors of the state.

I.e., in 2010 the citizens get to decide of a constitutional convention should be convened, and then latter either approve or disregard the constitution that convention writes. The idea of further mucking up our currently labyrinthine constitution (which is already several times the length of the United States Constitution, and choked with earmarks and electoral minutiae) used to strike terror into the hearts of most pundits on either side of the aisle.

But the tide has turned. Noted journalist and liberal columnist Jack Lessenberry is now all for trying again, as is Citizens for Michigan, a “volunteer group . . . formed in 2003 [that] includes current and former elected officials, judges, scholars and legal advisers.” Citizens for Michigan has even released a detailed list of 63 recommendations

  • Expanding term limits to 12 years each for executive office officials, state senators, and state representatives;
  • Eliminating state boards and commissions and allowing governor to appoint his or her entire cabinet;
  • Provide for gubernatorial appointment of the State Board of Education and the governing boards of the state’s three largest universities, subject to advice and consent of the State Senate and a partisan balance;
  • Provide for gubernatorial appointment of Supreme Court Justices to a single 10-year term with partisan balance on the high court;
  • An additional statewide mill to fund school district building programs, which over time would reduce bonding mills at the local level;
  • Eliminate the ability of non-Michigan to gather signatures to amend Michigan’s constitution, or at least require back-to-back General Election voter approval in order to amend the state constitution as is required in other states.
  • While many of these seem like common sense changes (such as expanded term limits, which would result in a more experienced — and thus efficient — legislature with some vestige of an institutional memory) and others downright necessary (like limiting the sway out-of-staters can have on our state’s constitution), not all of their suggestions — or even the composition of the group — are being applauded. Check out the comments on their site, posted by Joe Average citizens unimpressed with the Citizens for Michigan:

    J.Brown, December 13th, 2006 at 9:41 am: All I can see in your recommendations is an overweening desire of politicians and academic and legal experts to chip away the power of the citizens of the state of Michigan.

    Your secretary, Mr. Axe, on the Beckman Show with the affable and incompetent John McCullough argues that voters of the state of Michigan should be stripped of the power to choose judges and restricted in the power of ballot initiatives because, in essence, we are too stupid or easily distracted by the major partisan items on the ballot to know what we are doing when we get to the down ballot items.

    It looks like 2010 will be an exciting year.

    *via Crain’s Detroit Business, “Group calls for changes to state constitution “*

    Dave-o is a frequent contributor to the Hugs video-cast. He unabashedly supports Poor Mojo’s Newswire, a blog of merit since 1905 — now available electronically!

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