Ballot initiative deadline passes, only payday loan effort submits signatures

By: - June 2, 2022 6:27 am

“Unlock Michigan 2” petition at a right-wing rally at the state Capitol, Feb. 8, 2022. The group did not submit signatures by the June 1 deadline. | Laina G. Stebbins

After months of circulators gathering signatures, the deadline for initiatives to create or amend state law has passed — with only one group submitting signatures for placement on the November ballot.

The only submission came from Michiganders for Fair Lending according to Tracy Wimmer, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State.  

Michiganders for Fair Lending submitted 405,625 signatures Wednesday as part of its effort to reform payday lending practices. 

Michiganders for Fair Lending submitted more than 400,000 signatures in an effort to place payday loan reform on the November ballot. |
Photo provided by Josh Hovey

“Payday lenders have been using the lure of quick cash to prey upon vulnerable Michiganders for too long. These extreme interest rate loans are designed to trap people in an endless cycle of debt, and we’re giving voters a chance this fall to fix this problem,” Michiganders for Fair Lending spokesperson Josh Hovey said in a media release. 

At least seven other initiatives chose to withhold their signatures, with some planning to submit their measures for inclusion on the November 2024 ballot, and others citing concerns that they did not have enough signatures to survive potential challenges. 

In order for a legislative initiative to be considered for the ballot, it must submit at least 340,047 signatures, or 8% of the vote in the last gubernatorial election, by 5 p.m. Wednesday. However, petition sponsors are strongly encouraged to submit more signatures than required, as some signatures or petition sheets may be found invalid, as was the case with five GOP gubernatorial candidates.

Alongside the many efforts to introduce or modify state law, there are also multiple initiatives to amend the state Constitution, including to protect reproductive rights and expand voting rights. These initiatives have a deadline of  5 p.m. July 11 and must submit 425,059 signatures, or 10% of the vote in the last gubernatorial election.

While constitutional amendments are placed directly on the ballot after receiving approval from the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers, the Legislature has 40 days to adopt or reject a citizen-led ballot proposal after the Board of State Canvassers determines the petition has enough valid signatures. 

Ballot proposals adopted by the Legislature are not subject to the governor’s veto power. 

This most recently occurred last year when the GOP-led Legislature approved the Unlock Michigan proposal taking away the governor’s emergency powers, something Republicans had repeatedly blasted Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whitmer was unable to veto the measure.

If the Legislature fails to adopt the proposal, it is put on the ballot at the next general election.

These are all the initiatives and their submission status:

Michiganders for Fair Lending: 405,625 signatures submitted

f the proposal from Michiganders for Fair Lending is adopted, payday loan interest rates would be capped at 36% in order to reform “predatory payday lending practices.” |
Photo provided by Josh Hovey

Interest rates for payday loans would be capped at 36%. Michigan’s attorney general would also be allowed to prosecute lenders exceeding that rate.

“We eliminated any petition and any signature that was missing key information or otherwise invalid. After that thorough quality control process on the 575,000 gross signatures, we are submitting 405,265 valid signatures,” said Hovey.

Unlock Michigan II: Not submitted

While the initiative received more than the minimum required signatures but did not collect enough signatures to withstand expected challenges, Unlock Michigan Spokesman Fred Wszolek said in a statement. The initiative will instead focus on passing legislation in the new Legislature next year. 

The effort would have limited emergency orders issued by the state health department or local health departments to 28 days unless extended by state Legislature or local governments.

Let MI Kids Learn: Not submitted 

The group introduced two petitions supported by former U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

One would have created the Student Opportunity Scholarship Program to pay tuition and fees K-12 for public or private schools, homeschooling materials and online learning programs for students with financial need.

The other would make contributions to the program tax deductible. 

Secure MI Vote: Not submitted

While the petition gathered more than 435,000 signatures, Secure MI Vote announced its plan to delay filing to gather more signatures at a Wednesday press conference. 

The proposal backed by Michigan Republicans would require ID for in-person and absentee ballot applications, eliminating an affidavit for in-person voting without ID. Under the initiative, voters facing hardship would be provided with a freed ID using a $3 million state fund.

The proposal would also prohibit unsolicited absentee ballot applications, require partial Social Security numbers for voter registration and ban outside funding for elections. It would also require voters who did not present their ID in person to present it within six days after the election for their vote to be counted. 

“Secure MI Vote” petition booth at a right-wing rally at the state Capitol, Feb. 8, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Raise the Wage Michigan: Not submitted

Despite collecting almost 500,000 signatures, Raise the Wage Michigan elected withhold submitting its signatures to make full use of its allocated time for collecting signatures, according to a statement from Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit behind the Raise the Wage Michigan Campaign. 

The group plans to submit 600,000 signatures this June to place the issue on the ballot in November 2024. 

Raise the Wage Michigan would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. Increases would have begun in 2023 raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour from the current minimum of $9.87. 

Similar legislation was adopted in 2018 by the GOP-led Legislature, keeping the proposal off the ballot. The proposal was then amended to reduce the size and rate of the increase. 

Audit MI: Not submitted

This proposal from supporters of former President Donald Trump would initiate a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election. 

Elections audits would no longer be conducted by the secretary of state or local election officials. The proposal would instead create an audit board of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans selected by the Legislature. The board could raise public and private funds and would not be required to disclose any private donors. 

Additionally, this proposal would establish a grand jury to investigate findings. 

Right-wing rally at the state Capitol demanding a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election, Feb. 8, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Michigan United: Not submitted

This proposal would repeal truth in sentencing laws requiring convicted individuals to serve their entire minimum sentence. The proposal would also establish credits reducing sentences for individuals who earn degrees or work in prison. 

Michigan Initiative for Community Healing: Not submitted

This initiative would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and reduce the penalty for possessing non-prescribed drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson is a reporting intern for the Michigan Advance. A recent MSU graduate, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He has reported on community events, breaking news, state policy, and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.

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