CHICAGO — The Michigan Supreme Court Thursday will hear oral arguments on four controversial referendums vying for space on the November ballot.
One of the initiatives seeks to block construction of a $4 billion bridge to Canada that would be structured as a public-private partnership. The bridge is expected to cost around $950 million and be financed with toll-backed revenue bonds.
The ballot referendum is sponsored by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, currently the only span that crosses the Detroit River between Michigan and Windsor, Canada, in the United States’ busiest trade route.
The court will also consider a proposal that would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve any tax increase. Another would allow eight new casinos in the state and another would guarantee collective bargaining rights by making them part of the state’s constitution.
The court will hear the proposals as part of the appeal process after a state election board deadlocked on three of the initiatives and a state Court of Appeals ordered another on the ballot. The board’s deadlock effectively rejected the proposals.
The court must rule by Sept. 7, the deadline to get the language on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The Board of State Canvassers agreed that supporters had gathered enough valid signatures to get them on the ballot but rejected them on the argument that the measures would amend other parts of the state constitution. Critics said the rulings overstep the board’s authority, which should rest largely with verifying signatures.
Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette two weeks ago filed court papers arguing that the collective bargaining referendum would change too many state laws to be understood in the 100-word referendum language.
It has been a busy season for legal challenges to ballot proposals in Michigan. The state Supreme Court last month approved a controversial measure to overturn the state’s emergency management law, Public Act 4. The court’s approval triggered an automatic suspension of Public Act 4 until after the election.