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Senate Dems plan attempt to undo controversial lame duck legislation

Sen. Jim Ananich, the next Minority Leader in Michigan's Senate.
Jake Neher

Democrats in the state Senate want to change a controversial law that passed during last year’s lame duck session.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder in late December. It changes the requirements for collecting signatures to get a measure on the ballot. Democrats say it makes the process too difficult.

“What they did in lame duck, that was one of the most egregious ones,” said Senate Minority Leader, Jim Ananich (D-Flint). “And I think for all intents and purposes taking away the citizen’s right to petition their government flies in the face of everything our democracy is about.”

The most controversial provision puts a cap on how many signatures can be collected from each Congressional district. No more than 15 percent of the total signatures gathered can come from one district. It also adds other new requirements, like a 100-word factual statement and requiring signature collectors indicate whether they are paid or a volunteer.

Representative James Lower (R-Cedar Lake) sponsored the original bill.

“I really don’t see how it prevents anybody from getting a measure on the ballot because there’s still a process in place that they can follow to put a measure on the ballot,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s a high bar.”

Senate Democrats plan to introduce legislation later this week.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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