Michigan Chamber of Commerce fights anti-gerrymandering proposal, marijuana legalization


  • Map of the Michigan House's gerrymandered districts in southeastern Michigan.

A grassroots anti-gerrymandering group seeking to pass a ballot initiative that would allow for a balanced redistricting process that does not favor any one party is facing an attack from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber, which has endorsed Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette for governor, is a key backer of a conservative group attempting to thwart the anti-gerrymandering proposal by ballot committee Voters Not Politicians. According to a report published by the Associated Press, the conservative group, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, received $100,000 from the Michigan chamber's political action committee in February and $85,000 in in-kind legal services in March from the Michigan Chamber Litigation Center.

Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution last week filed a challenge to the proposal with the state board of elections and also filed suit in the court of appeals. The group claims the amendments proposed by Voters Not Politicians are so significant that they necessitate a constitutional convention, and that VPN's proposal does not list all of the sections of the constitution that it would repealed.

VPN has said it will "vigorously" respond to the lawsuit challenging the proposal. The group is also facing opposition from the Committee to Protect Voters Rights, which claims the citizens tasked with drawing district lines under VPN's proposal would lack the know-how to do it properly.

According to the AP, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution helped defeat five ballot measures in 2012.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has helped wage attacks on other progressive and environmentally friendly initiatives. It opposes a ballot initiative to legalize of recreational marijuana for people 21 and over because it claims people might smoke weed before operating heavy machinery for work (we should point out that booze is legal and that Michigan's manufacturing and construction industries don't appear to be plagued by employees who are drunk on the job). The chamber also said in October that it opposed a petition drive to close the controversial Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac, though that proposal has so far not collected enough petition signatures to advance.

Voters Not Politicians has submitted 425,000 signatures to the state to get the anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative before voters — well over the 315,654 needed for a proposed constitutional amendment.

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