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Anti-fracking group challenges petition limits

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Anti-fracking petitions

The campaign to outlaw fracking in Michigan is asking the state Court of Appeals to strike down a 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures to put a question on the ballot.

A law signed by Governor Rick Snyder in June says signatures that are older than 180 days can’t be counted. It’s very similar to a rule that was used before that by state elections officials.

That rule has twice now thwarted the anti-fracking campaign’s efforts to get a question before voters.

But the Committee to Ban Fracking’s LuAnn Kozma says the law violates the Michigan Constitution’s provision on voter-initiated laws.

“The constitution does not specify any time limits to ballot initiatives at all,” she said.

Kozma says the campaign now has its eye on the 2018 ballot, but wants a ruling first to help decide whether it’s worth the effort.

“Why should we have to go through all of the actual work before a decision is made because that’s sort of pointless,” she said. Kozma also said the time limit also places an unfair burden on grassroots ballot campaigns that can’t afford to pay a lot of money for professional petition circulators.

The state argues the Legislature has the authority to pass laws governing ballot campaigns, including setting time limits on signature gathering.

A lower court said it wouldn’t rule on the question until after the signatures are turned in to state elections officials.

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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