Petition Drives on Marijuana and Prevailing Wage Moving Forward, Eyeing 2018 Ballot

May 24, 2017

Groups hoping to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and repeal the state’s prevailing wage law were given the green light to begin gathering petitions after the Board of State Canvassers approved the forms of the petitions last week.

Marijuana – The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) hopes to collect enough signatures to ask voters to legalize the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for persons 21 years and older. The proposal would license marijuana businesses that sell, cultivate, transport and test marijuana. It would impose the sales tax on marijuana sold at the retail level and impose a 10 percent excise tax with revenue dedicated to schools, roads and local governments.

The Michigan Chamber has begun to evaluate the content of the CRMLA proposal but has not taken a formal position. Because employers have a legal responsibility to protect all employees under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) law and other laws, we will be evaluating the language in the proposal and the impact it would have on the ability of employers to maintain safe and drug-free workplaces.

Prevailing Wage – The coalition, Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, also plans to begin collecting signatures to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law, the law that requires union-level wages and fringe benefits to be paid on all taxpayer-funded construction projects, regardless of whether union employees perform the work. The Michigan Chamber has supported similar legislative efforts to repeal the law but has not taken a position on the ballot proposal.

Looking Ahead to the 2018 Ballot – We fully expect nine or more groups to be circulating petitions to get their issues on the ballot. In addition to those issues described above, other anticipated ballot campaigns include: A $15 minimum wage, a graduated income tax, mandatory paid sick leave, a ban on hydraulic fracking, increased local authority to impose environmental laws and regulations, redistricting changes, a part-time Legislature and more. We will keep you apprised as these groups file their petitions.

How a Proposal Gets on the Ballot in Michigan – If proponents gather more than 252,523 valid signatures for their initiative in a 180-day period beginning on or after May 1, the measure will go before the Legislature, which would have 40 days to act. If the Legislature takes no action or rejects the proposal, then it would go before voters in November 2018. The Legislature also could put a competing proposal on the ballot.