Casino ballot proposal tossed out by court, voters still potentially face five more proposals
A ballot proposal that would approve construction of eight more casinos statewide was struck down by the Michigan Court of Appeals August 14.
The court ruled in a one-paragraph order that the proposal violates sections of the Gaming Act without specifically laying out which portions of the act would be altered or thrown out.
Citizens for More Michigan Jobs, the group backing the proposal, said it will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court soon.
“From day one, we firmly believed the law has been on our side,” said T.J. Bucholz, spokesman for the group, according to the Detroit Free Press.
If approved, the ballot proposal would have allowed construction of new casinos in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, Romulus, Clinton Township, Birch Run, DeWitt and Clam Lake Township.
Backers of the initiative say the new casinos would help stimulate Michigan’s economy by creating new jobs and creating competition.
Meanwhile, Protect MI Vote, the group that challenged the proposal, says the initiative is unconstitutional. The group represents the three Detroit casinos and three tribal casinos, including Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant.
“(The court) supported our contention that this was very poorly drafted, it is not constitutional, and there is no way the voters can figure out what they are voting on,” Protect MI Vote spokesman John Truscott said, according to the Free Press.
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe spokesman Frank Cloutier said the tribe is happy with the decision.
“The court made the most appropriate decision with this case,” Cloutier said. “They (Citizens for More Michigan Jobs) wanted to profit off of the state constitution.”
Cloutier said ramifications of the proposal would be harmful to both the tribe and the state.
“If the proposal was on the ballot and approved, it would have been devastating to our operation and the state’s economy,” Cloutier said. “There are no new jobs to be gained from this at all.”
He said the proposal’s backers’ claim that new casino construction would create healthy competition and new jobs is false.
“In this case, someone is going to have to suffer for another community’s gain,” Cloutier said. “That’s not healthy competition.”
A union-backed proposal that would guarantee collective bargaining rights for public employees was rejected by the Board of State Canvassers on Wednesday. The backers of the proposal will appeal the decision in court.
The board did approve two constitutional mandates for the ballot, one that would require 25 percent of Michigan’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 and another that would guarantee training and union rights for home health care workers. It also approved a referendum on the state’s emergency financial manager law.
Two other proposals, one to require a vote on the construction of a second Detroit-Windsor bridge and another requiring a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature to raise taxes, have yet to be approved.
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