FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2016
Contact: LuAnne Kozma, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan
(231) 944-8750 firstname.lastname@example.org
Court holds Michigan ban fracking lawsuit not “ripe”
Committee continues collecting signatures
Charlevoix, Michigan – The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a statewide ballot initiative campaign (www.letsbanfracking.org), learned late Monday that the Michigan Court of Claims held its case against the State of Michigan is not “ripe,” indicating that only after the Committee submits the signatures would the court be able to take up the issue.
On June 1, the Committee sued election officials saying the law, which restricts the signature-gathering time period to 180-days (MCL 168.472a) is unconstitutional. A new, even more restrictive, version was signed into law after June 1 by Governor Snyder. The new version does not allow any signature collected over 180-days prior to filing to be counted, even if the registered voter’s signature is valid.
June 1 was also the deadline for submitting the required number of signatures for putting a proposed law on the ballot in the November 2016 election. The Committee had over 207,000 signatures at that time. The required number is 252,523. Having missed the deadline for 2016, the Committee now plans to submit them for the next statewide election in 2018.
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment now, prior to submitting the signatures so as to guide its strategic planning. The Committee will appeal Judge Borrello’s decision.
Matt Erard, legal assistant for the Committee, notes the illogic of the decision: “The reasoning suggests that a declaratory judgment is not necessary to guide a plaintiff’s future conduct until there is no future conduct left to perform.”
“What this means for our campaign,” said director LuAnne Kozma, “is we have the burden of collecting the signatures without knowing whether or not the 180-day time period is constitutional, which is an unfair and expensive burden. Any ballot initiative in the middle of its campaign, or about to start one, deserves to know the answer to this question when a law like the 180-day statue is enacted with the express purpose of limiting the rights of the people to place an initiative on the ballot.”
“We are fighting to preserve the right of initiative, which is guaranteed in the state constitution. We will persevere and we urge all Michiganders who want to ban fracking and frack wastes to join our campaign,” added Kozma.
The governor issued a press release on June 7 explaining that he signed the new version into law because “establishing reasonable time limits on when signatures can be collected helps ensure the issues that make the ballot are the ones that matter most to Michiganders.”
The Committee contends in its suit that under self-executing article 2 section 9 of the constitution, ensuring that issues that “matter most” which make the ballot is not the proper function of the canvassers, the legislature, or the governor. Only the voters can decide what “matters most.” They have to be allowed to vote on it when a sufficient number of valid signatures are filed.
The Committee seeks new volunteers and donors to join the effort. Sign up at the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s website www.letsbanfracking.org.
The Committee’s lawsuit, the court decision, and the ballot language also can be found on the website.
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