Press Release March 5, 2017
Contact: LuAnne Kozma, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan
WHAT: Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan case goes to Michigan Court of Appeals for oral argument on 180-day signature gathering law on issue of ripeness
WHEN: Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 11:00 AM
WHERE: Lansing Courtroom, Hall of Justice, 925 W Ottawa Street, Lansing, MI
CASE: Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v Director of Elections
Charlevoix, Michigan – A case brought by the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a statewide ballot initiative campaign (www.letsbanfracking.org), challenging the constitutioanlity of the 180-day signature gathering law, goes before the Michigan Court of Appeals for a reversal of the decision this summer by the Court of Claims. The lower court had ruled the Committee’s challenge was not yet “ripe” because it had not yet filed signatures with the Secretary of State. The Committee’s appeal brief describes the reasons and court decisions that show that the case is ripe now.
The Court will hear oral argument on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 11 a.m. in the Lansing Courtroom, Hall of Justice, 925 W Ottawa Street, Lansing. Case: Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v Director of Elections.
On June 1, the Committee sued election officials saying the law regarding the signature-gathering time period, even with a “rebuttable presumption” about signatures older than 180 days (MCL 168.472a), is unconstitutional for statutory initiatives like the ban-fracking measure because the constitution does not have any time restrictions, nor does it allow the Legislature to restrict the people’s right to statutory initiative.
A week later Governor Snyder signed an amendment to the law making it even more restrictive. The new version is absolute in allowing no signature over 180 days old to be counted, even if the voter’s signature is perfectly valid.
At the time of the June 1 filing deadline for submitting signatures for putting a proposed law on the ballot in the November 2016 election, the Committee had over 207,000 signatures. The required number is 252,523. The Committee has continued collecting signatures and plans to file them for the next statewide election in 2018.
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment now so as to guide the Committee’s future conduct. Under the Michigan constitution there can be no time limit whatever on collecting signatures for a statutory initiative.
For more background on the history of initiative law in Michigan, see the Committee's October 13, 2016 press release.
Court documents can be found at www.letsbanfracking.org under "Lawsuit."
Attorneys for Committee to Ban Fracking are Ellis Boal and Matthew Erard.
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