EMEAC announces policy positions on ballot initiatives

August 23, 2012

On the Ballot
There are several initiatives that voters will see on the ballot this November.  Below is a brief description of each, along with a statement on implications for justice and EMEAC’s position.
Emergency Manager Referendum
The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act, also called Public Act 4, would expand powers for emergency managers (EMs) and the ability of the Governor to appoint them.  Specifically, it defines the conditions under which a formal review of the finances of Detroit will occur and the powers of the committee performing such a review.
Central Issues: There are several concerns we have about PA-4.  They include:
1.      The end of democracy:  PA-4 removes the rights of citizens from electing public officials at the local level.
2.      Punishes victims of economic downturn:  PA-4 lays blame for economic problems squarely on the shoulders of communities hit hard in the economic crisis. Detroit has been hit hard by deindustrialization, factory closures and the elimination of ancillary jobs.  While we recognize that some elected officials have made poor or questionable decisions, this doesn’t justify completely taking away the voting rights of an entire population.
3.      No accountability:  The EM can do what he or she wants without any input by or consideration of members of the affected communities.  Essentially, there is no accountability to the public as the EM would not have to answer to anyone but the Governor.
4.      Accelerated privatization:  The EM can break any and all contracts, including those with workers. Further, she/he can privatize any and all services it chooses.  This makes communities needing services more vulnerable to the profit interests of companies.  And where profit drives decision-making, human life is not considered as valuable.
EMEAC is opposed to PA4.
Other Statewide Proposals Qualified to Appear on November 6
Other measures that are expected to be on November’s ballot include proposed constitutional amendments: Michigan’s Clean Renewable Electric Energy Standard and the Michigan Home Health Care Amendment.  The justice implications and EMEAC’s position are presented below.
Clean Energy: This amendment would require utilities to obtain at least 25% of their electricity from clean renewable energy sources.  This amendment will: 1) Require 25% of Michigan’s energy to come from clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2025. 2) Limit rate increases from the proposal to 1% a year and no more than $1.25 a month for the average household. 3) Provide incentives to use Michigan equipment and businesses and hire Michigan workers. The thoughts, questions and concerns that come up for us include.
We like that it requires utility companies to increase their use of renewable energy.  The acquisition and use of nonrenewable sources have wreaked havoc on the earth, air, and water; diminished the quality of life for many human, animal and plant populations; and contributed to global warming and climate change.  It is clear that something must be done and soon. BUT we are concerned that it doesn’t go far enough to define what is and what is not considered clean renewable energy.  This causes concern as some have gone as far as to consider incinerators and hydrofracking as renewable energy sources.  We disagree. Also, the amendment does not require a reduction in the use of nonrenewable sources, only an increase in the use of renewable ones. 
We also like that it attempts to prevent price gouging by limiting the ability of utility companies to charge considerably higher prices for electricity from renewable resources than current ones. Further, we like that this amendment promotes the creation of clean jobs. One question we have about job promotion is who will benefit? We would like to see people in affected communities benefit from employment opportunities.
In sum, EMEAC supports Michigan’s Clean Renewable Electric Energy Standard and will monitor its implementation should it be passed. (The full text of the proposal can be found at www.mienergymijobs.com/proposal.aspx.)
Home Health Care:  This amendment would establish the Michigan Quality Home Council, which would oversee a registry that connects hope care recipients with pre-screened home care providers; require hope care providers on the registry to undergo background checks; give home care providers access to job training; save taxpayer dollars in avoided nursing home costs.  It also stipulates that providers shall have limited collective bargaining rights.  
EMEAC is concerned with health and healing justice.  As such we are in support of the creation of safeguards for people receiving services (background checks on providers), as well as those providing them (collective bargaining rights).  However we are uncertain about the implications and potential for abuse of this amendment.