Letter from Catherine Parker
Sent April 18, 2013
Reprinted here with permission
Representative John Kivela
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
I did a little exploring on the Michigan legislature website and found that you co-sponsored two Resolutions, one in January and another in April, that were drafted in an attempt to clarify the power of referendum when making appropriations.* It seems you do realize, then, that appropriations are being attached to bills in order to make them referendum-proof, and that this is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.
As one of your constituents, and a voter who had high hopes for the candidate from Marquette, I was extremely disappointed to learn that you were co-sponsoring the House equivalent of SB 288, a bill that aims to undo the work of a citizen ballot initiative and eliminate the rights of voters to challenge any future designation of an animal as a game species.** A move like this is, at its heart, unlawful, and constitutes a betrayal of the trust placed in you by the voters who put you into office.
If you cannot remove your name from HB 4552, please amend your support to be contingent upon the elimination of appropriations from this bill. The problem could also be solved by separating the bill into its various components, attaching funding only to the portions where it is both necessary and ethical to do so. There should be no appropriations attached to language that would negate the efforts of Michigan voters to overturn the recently enacted wolf hunt law.
The citizens of Michigan have a constitutional right to challenge any recently passed legislation, with the exception of instances where the attached appropriations are vital to the functioning of our state government. The escalating use of token appropriations to subvert the ability of citizens to utilize this important system of checks and balances is a matter of great concern. Notable examples are the Emergency Financial Manager and Right-to-Work laws. Do you really want to add a bill with your name on it to this list?
An organization called Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum aims to put this issue on the November 2014 ballot, proposing modifications to the language of Article II, Section 9 of our State constitution that would protect critical state funding while ensuring that the people’s power to reject laws enacted by the legislature is protected.***
It would be wise to stay on the right side of this issue. Please do the honorable thing, and correct or reject HB 4552.
Editor's Notes:* Click here to read the January 30, 2013, House Joint Resolution E. Click here to read the April 9, 2013 Resolution Q.
** See our April 11, 2013, article, "Right to vote threatened by Michigan Senate Bill 288," for background on the recent petition for a referendum on PA 520, the wolf hunt law passed in December 2012. More than a quarter of a million voters signed this petition. Because of appropriations attached to SB 288 (and now HB 4552), the referendum would not be valid.
*** Click here to learn about Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum.