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News (Media Awareness Project) - US MI: Editorial: What The Petition Circulators Want This Year
Title:US MI: Editorial: What The Petition Circulators Want This Year
Published On:2012-01-29
Source:Holland Sentinel (MI)
Fetched On:2012-02-03 06:00:51
WHAT THE PETITION CIRCULATORS WANT THIS YEAR

Holland - Be on the lookout for smiling people with clipboards
requesting your signature. Michigan voters will be asked to sign
petitions this year for at least two ballot proposals, one to mandate
greater use of "green energy" and another for the limited legalization
of marijuana. If enough voters do sign, we'll be facing some tough
questions in November.

A coalition called Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs is pushing an
initiative that would require utilities in the state to get 25 percent
of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar,
by 2025. That's more than double the current standard of 10 percent
scheduled to go into effect in 2015. Further, the proposal would limit
rate increases related to such "green energy" to 1 percent a year.

This is a perfect example of an issue where the ballot initiative
process is the absolute wrong way to determine public policy. Backers
are asking voters to make a straight yes-no, all-or-nothing decision
on a complex question that deserves the detailed examination and
negotiation that comes with the legislative process. The measure would
force utilities to pursue two contrary courses of action -- buying
more expensive renewable energy without collecting the money to pay
for it -- and tie everyone's hands by enshrining the directive in the
state constitution.

We've seen locally with the experience of the Holland Board of Public
Works how challenging it can be to find renewable energy sources at a
reasonable price -- in general, wind and solar energy are still not
cost-competitive with electricity generated by fossil fuels.
Generating more green energy is a worthy goal, and we supported the 10
percent standard when it was approved by the Legislature in 2008. The
25 percent goal is not unattainable, but it's foolhardy to plunge
ahead with new requirements before we even see what happens when the
2015 requirement goes into effect. It's impossible to say now what
technology will be like in 2025 or forecast the cost of alternative
energy sources then. Rather than pass a "feel good" initiative, we
should leave a complicated issue like this up to regulatory bodies
such as the Public Services Commission and, ultimately, the
Legislature.

Meanwhile, a group called the Committee for a Safer Michigan wants
voters to approve a constitutional amendment allowing people over 21
to possess small quantities of marijuana for recreational use. At
least this proposal is more direct and more honest than the medical
marijuana law approved by Michigan voters in 2008 -- an intentionally
vague initiative that many backers saw as a vehicle for de facto
legalization of pot.

Be on the lookout for smiling people with clipboards requesting your
signature. Michigan voters will be asked to sign petitions this year
for at least two ballot proposals, one to mandate greater use of
"green energy" and another for the limited legalization of marijuana.
If enough voters do sign, we'll be facing some tough questions in November.

A coalition called Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs is pushing an
initiative that would require utilities in the state to get 25 percent
of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar,
by 2025. That's more than double the current standard of 10 percent
scheduled to go into effect in 2015. Further, the proposal would limit
rate increases related to such "green energy" to 1 percent a year.

This is a perfect example of an issue where the ballot initiative
process is the absolute wrong way to determine public policy. Backers
are asking voters to make a straight yes-no, all-or-nothing decision
on a complex question that deserves the detailed examination and
negotiation that comes with the legislative process. The measure would
force utilities to pursue two contrary courses of action -- buying
more expensive renewable energy without collecting the money to pay
for it -- and tie everyone's hands by enshrining the directive in the
state constitution.

We've seen locally with the experience of the Holland Board of Public
Works how challenging it can be to find renewable energy sources at a
reasonable price -- in general, wind and solar energy are still not
cost-competitive with electricity generated by fossil fuels.
Generating more green energy is a worthy goal, and we supported the 10
percent standard when it was approved by the Legislature in 2008. The
25 percent goal is not unattainable, but it's foolhardy to plunge
ahead with new requirements before we even see what happens when the
2015 requirement goes into effect. It's impossible to say now what
technology will be like in 2025 or forecast the cost of alternative
energy sources then. Rather than pass a "feel good" initiative, we
should leave a complicated issue like this up to regulatory bodies
such as the Public Services Commission and, ultimately, the
Legislature.

Meanwhile, a group called the Committee for a Safer Michigan wants
voters to approve a constitutional amendment allowing people over 21
to possess small quantities of marijuana for recreational use. At
least this proposal is more direct and more honest than the medical
marijuana law approved by Michigan voters in 2008 -- an intentionally
vague initiative that many backers saw as a vehicle for de facto
legalization of pot.

Perhaps we would be willing to consider legalization of marijuana if
the 2008 law had actually worked. As it turned out, the law was badly
abused by people trying to turn what was intended to be a small-scale
person-to-person supply chain into large-scale commercial operations
and by doctors authorizing pot use for people without a proven medical
need. Those abuses led to a counteraction from law enforcement that
has thrown the entire medical-marijuana system into question.
Supporters of legalization need to work with legislators to make the
medical-marijuana law work before we consider a further step toward
greater legal pot use.

There's no guarantee that either of these proposals will be on your
ballot in November -- supporters have to collect more than 322,000
valid signatures to qualify each for a public vote. For now, we simply
ask voters to think carefully of the potential consequences when a
petition-circulator hands you a clipboard and asks you to "sign here
please."
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