The Michigan Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered off the Nov. 6 ballot a proposal that would ask state voters to approve eight more Michigan casinos.
Backers of the proposal said they plan to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. The new casinos would be located in Detroit; Romulus; Pontiac; Clinton Township; Birch Run Township, south of Frankenmuth; DeWitt Township, north of Lansing; Grand Rapids, and Clam Lake Township, outside Cadillac.
The group Protect MI Vote, which is backed in part by existing casinos in Michigan, filed a lawsuit seeking to block the casino initiative sponsored by Citizens for More Michigan Jobs.
In a one-paragraph order, the court ruled the proposed initiative violates a section of the Michigan Constitution that prohibits amending a law by reference to its title only. The panel said the proposal would amend the Gaming Act without publishing the sections of the law that would be changed.
John Truscott, a spokesman for Protect MI Vote, said the court "supported our contention that this was very poorly drafted, it is not constitutional, and there is no way the voters can figure out what they are voting on."
T.J. Bucholz, a spokesman for Citizens for More Michigan Jobs, said his group will appeal. "From Day One, we have firmly believed that the law has been on our side," Bucholz said.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers was scheduled to vote on certifying the casino initiative and three others at its meeting today in Lansing.
In reports this week, elections staff said all four initiatives easily surpassed the valid signature requirement of about 323,000. In addition to the casino initiative, the board was to deal with: a Protect Our Jobs initiative to guarantee collective-bargaining rights in the constitution; a Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs initiative to increase the state's renewable energy requirement, and the Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care initiative that would, among other changes, provide limited collective-bargaining rights to home health care workers.
Also Tuesday, TV ads were launched signaling the start of what is expected to be a pitched airtime battle over ballot proposals in Michigan this year.
Protect Our Jobs, the union-backed group, began airing a commercial featuring a fifth-grade teacher from Warren and a classroom full of children.
And a business-backed group that opposes the Protect Our Jobs initiative as well as other proposals began airing an ad attacking "special-interest groups" that "want to rewrite ... your constitution."
In the 30-second Protect Our Jobs ad, which spokesman Dan Lijana said began airing in Detroit, Lansing and Flint, teacher Karen Kuciel says collective bargaining is "not just about funding," but about issues important to student success.
"Teachers have collective bargaining so they can fight for things like smaller class size and good materials to help kids learn," Kuciel says in the video.
Lijana would not disclose the size of the ad buy.
Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution, which opposes the union initiative, began airing a TV ad featuring a man seated in his living room, reading newspaper stories about what could be as many as seven voter-initiated proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The ad says some of the proposals are "loaded with loopholes and special-interest power grabs" and "will cost you a bundle."
It began airing statewide, spokesman Nick DeLeeuw said. He also would not disclose the size of the ad buy.
A voter initiative to repeal the state's toughened emergency manager law already has been approved for the ballot after a fight that went to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Approval of two other initiatives -- one to require a statewide vote on a new international bridge and another to require a two-thirds legislative supermajority for any new tax increase -- is pending.
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