State senator talks proposals with Student Senate

Sarah Hillenbrand

Michigan State Senator Arlan Meekhof came to speak to the Grand Valley State University Student Senate on Thursday about the proposals that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot and discussed his feelings about each.

Meekhof opened by telling the senators that he hoped they would be informed about all the proposals and issues and what each one is about. He also encouraged every senator to cast their vote for the candidates and proposals on the ballot.

“The least that we expect from you as a citizen is that you vote, but I hope you do more than that,” Meekhof said.

Meekhof explained what a proposal really is and how it gets on the ballot. There will be six proposals on this year’s ballot, five of which are constitutional amendments and one is a referendum. For both types of proposal, those who create them need to get signatures for support to get them onto the ballot.

Proposal 1 is to have emergency managers that are able to come and take over a city, township or school system that is going bankrupt or needs financial help, Meekhof said, adding that he was in support of this proposal because, if a city goes bankrupt, it is the citizens that have to pay. “This proposal keeps Michigan recovering,” Meekhof said.

Collective bargaining is the focus of Proposal 2. Meekhof said he supports collective bargaining, but not the ambiguity of the law. He said by passing this proposal, other laws will be repealed, but it hasn’t been revealed to him which ones. “I don’t think we should pass a law so we know what’s in it,” Meekhof said.

Proposal 3 is about clean energy requirements, which Meekhof said “sounds enticing” but isn’t a good plan. He said he doesn’t think Michigan energy plans should be a part of the constitution. “No state, no matter how aggressive (for renewable energy), has put their energy policies in their constitution,” Meekhof said. His argument is that newer – and possibly better – technologies are always being discovered.

“If we find better technology, we’d have to go back and change the constitution which is hard to do,” Meekhof said.

Meekhof said there are a lot of other technologies, like storing renewable energy in battery technology, that are being discovered so the benefits of future technology would be better than implementing other renewable energy sources now.

Proposal 4 talks about establishing better quality home health care workers. Meekhof stood against this proposal because the workers have “never requested to be a part of collective bargaining at all.”

To pass Proposal 5 would mean that any projected tax increase would have to be passed by voters. Meekhof said tax policy doesn’t belong in the constitution and that there are many more things that need to be discussed with this issue; once it’s locked into the constitution it becomes much harder to do.

Finally, Proposal 6 reads that any new international bridge or tunnel cannot be built without asking the people first. Passing this proposal might require citizens to have to vote on every proposed bridge or tunnel to be built, Meekhof said.

The main message the state senator wanted to deliver was to be sure to be informed on the proposals before voting. Most of the student senators said they hadn’t researched the proposals but only knew of the proposals because of commercials they had seen on television.

Meekhof encouraged the students to not only vote, but to be an informed voter.

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