The organization Protecting Michigan Taxpayers -- which assisted in the effort to vote "yes" on 2012's Proposal 1 and "no" on the other five ballot proposals that year -- is being jumpstarted back to life with the support of the Michigan Freedom Fund and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan (ABC).
The citizens' initiative process allows the group to collect roughly 252,523 signatures from registered voters after their language is approved by the Board of State Canvassers, which could theoretically happen as soon as Tuesday's meeting.
Fred WOODHAMS, spokesperson for the Secretary of State, said the initiative is not on the canvassers' agenda currently, but could be added by Tuesday as election staff look over the language to flag any issues.
From there, the group has 180 days to collect the signatures needed to put the question before the Legislature. If the proposal is supported with 56 votes in the House and 20 votes in the Senate, it goes into law without the support of Gov. Rick SNYDER.
If the Legislature doesn't vote in 40 days or votes no, it goes on the next General Election ballot for the people to decide.
MIRS has learned the plan is to collect the needed signatures over the summer so the Legislature has the opportunity to vote on it in the fall.
Snyder has not been supportive of a repeal of the nearly 50-year-old law, which requires that construction workers who work on state-financed construction projects be paid the "prevailing wage" of union construction workers in that area.
Proponents say this law ensures that local construction workers are paid a fair wage while making it more likely that a local company wins the bidding process. Opponents say it leads to higher-than-necessary construction costs and is essentially a waste of taxpayer money.
"Our schools, our universities, our communities are all going to benefit when government construction are brought back into line with the rest of the world and the private sector," said ABC President Chris FISHER.
Fisher said previously his group wanted to work within the Legislature to pass a prevailing wage repeal law, but after "more than four decades of being held back by one of the worst laws in the nation it was time for citizens to be guaranteed to have their voices heard for fiscal accountability.
"And they're going to have that, finally," said Fisher, adding that this is "about protecting taxpayers and saving jobs."
Michigan is one of only six states with a "costly prevailing wage mandate" determined exclusively by union classifications, dramatically driving up costs on everyday taxpayers.
Notified of the ballot proposal Thursday, Shorty GLEASON, legislative liaison for the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, said he wishes the type of focus and energy that goes into these type of initiatives went into fixing the roads, developing energy policy or creating economic program that create jobs.
"It's unbelievable," Gleason said. "We've had a law on the books for nearly 50 years. There's been no big public outcry to repeal this. It's the only law that protecting working-class people get a fair wage, some health insurance, a modest retirement and some training.
"It's amazing these groups can take off on a tangent instead of focus on the real issues."
The involvement of the Michigan Freedom Fund in this citizens' initiative is significant, considering they have ties to former gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVOS and other high-dollar funders within the business community who can provide the resources needed to gather signatures.
The Michigan Freedom Fund, led by Chair Greg McNEILLY, was a big driver in seeing Right to Work pass in 2012.
The votes are there in the Senate to repeal prevailing wage as SB 0001, SB 0002 and SB 0003 passed the upper chamber, 22-15. A vote on these bills or similar House bills has not been taken up in the lower chamber.
But arguably similar legislation that limit local governments' ability to place special pay or benefit requirement on businesses passed the House Tuesday, 57-52.
Snyder repeated earlier this week that he has "serious problems" with repealing prevailing wage.
Interestingly, Snyder was supportive of the work Protecting Michigan Taxpayers did in 2012 and now finds himself on the opposite side of the group. Also, his former political advisor, Terri REID, is now the president of the Michigan Freedom Fund.
Snyder Press Secretary Sara WURFEL said Thursday's move is part of the democratic process and that the Governor's position on prevailing wage has not changed.
"He's going to stay very focused on positioning Michigan as the country's leader in the skilled trades that lead to good-paying jobs and opportunities for our Michiganders," Wurfel said.
House Minority Leader Tim GREIMEL (D-Auburn Hills) responded to Thursday's news by saying, "It's deeply disappointing that right-wing fringe groups like the Freedom Fund are focused on cutting pay for Michigan residents. House Democrats believe that hardworking Michiganders deserve a raise not a pay cut."
The National Federation of Independent Businesses is supporting the initiative Thursday, according to state director Charlie OWENS.
"Michigan taxpayers can no longer afford the outdated and wasteful Prevailing Wage Law," Owens said. "The law forces taxpayers to be overcharged anywhere between 10 and 15 percent more than what a competitively bid job would cost without the Prevailing Wage Law mandated union wage requirement."