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State elections panel clears way for new petition drives

A state elections panel today cleared the way for two new petition drives to get underway. The drives will try to put questions on the 2014 general election ballot.

Fred Woodhams is with the Michigan Secretary of State. He says this brings the number of petition drives that have been approved for circulation to three.  He says the first is “a legislative initiative regarding fracking. “  He continued, “There’s a referendum regarding the wolf hunt legislation that was passed last year, and then there’s the constitutional amendment that deals with appropriations bills.”

LuAnne Kozma (KAHZ’-muh) is with the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan. She says state environmental regulations that allow fracking don’t protect the public.  “It is not safe and it cannot be regulated to a safe point.  Regulations are just a way of allowing it. The permit process is just a permit to pollute.”

She continued, “they are really just a matter of where a frack well should be this far away from a home or that far away, and that’s not really – that’s what regulation means: keeping some smaller rules, but not really tackling the issue of whether they should be banned or not.”

There is already a petition drive underway to ask voters to reverse the law that allows a wolf-hunting season in the Upper Peninsula.

The last petition drive would amend the state constitution so the Legislature and the governor could no longer block referendums on new laws by putting appropriations into them.  

Lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder did that several times over the past two years by putting appropriations into laws. The Michigan Constitution says those are the only laws not subject to a challenge by voters.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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