Gov. Snyder issues rare veto over delegate selection

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau
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Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday handed down a rare veto of a bill that would have empowered legislative leaders to pick the majority of delegates to a federal constitutional convention — should one ever be called by Congress or the states.

Snyder vetoed House Bill 5380, which would have let the four majority and minority party leaders of the Legislature choose six of nine delegates to a constitutional convention, as well as the alternates.

In March, the Legislature passed a resolution urging Congress to call a constitutional convention for drafting an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. The vetoed bill was designed to create a process for appointing and removing delegates should 34 states pass a resolution calling for a constitutional convention.

The bill would have let the speaker of the House and Senate majority leader each appoint two constitutional convention delegates and let the House and Senate minority leaders each select a delegate, giving legislative leaders six of the nine appointments. The governor would have been given the power to chose two of the delegates and the ninth appointment would have been jointly appointed by the governor, speaker and majority leader.

In a veto letter to the Legislature, the Republican governor indicated the bill gives too much power to legislative leaders who are not accountable to all state residents.

“Because the legislative leaders are not (elected) by the entire state, but instead by only the voters within their individual districts, a constitutional delegation comprised primarily of persons selected only by the legislative quadrant would not give a full representative voice to all Michiganders,” Snyder wrote.

The veto of HB5380 is Snyder’s 18th veto of a policy bill during his four years in office, spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said.

Snyder suggested the delegates be appointed by either a statewide vote of the people or by the entire 148-member Legislature. In a surprise move, Snyder endorsed a balanced budget constitutional amendment during his State of the State address to lawmakers in January.

“It is laudable to plan ahead and be prepared in the event that Michigan is ever faced with the great responsibility of sending a delegation to Washington, D.C., to consider new amendments to the federal constitution,” Snyder wrote.

On Dec. 11, the Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill along party lines. It cleared the House mostly along party lines in March. The vetoed bill was sponsored by Rep. Ray Franz, a Republican from Manistee County.

Other bills signed

Also Friday, Snyder signed several bills that lawmakers passed in their recent three-week “lame duck” session.

They included:

■Legislation creating a pilot program for screening and testing welfare recipients for drug use if state workers suspect substance abuse problems. The one-year pilot program would be limited to three counties not yet selected. Welfare recipients who test positive for controlled substance use would be referred to a drug treatment program. Recipients who refused the drug test would be deemed ineligible for benefits for six months. Under the new law, their welfare benefits would be eliminated if they refused to participate in the program or refused to submit to additional drug testing.

■A bill extending the life of Michigan’s taxpayer incentives for attracting filmmakers to the state through 2021. The program was due to expire in 2017 and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, made it one of his top priorities during the lame duck session. Senate Bill 1103 requires an equal number of Michigan residents and nonresidents be hired for a movie or television production through September 2017. After that, filmmakers would have to hire 50 percent more Michigan residents than out-of-state workers to get state incentives. The new law sets the tax rebate at 25 percent for in-state production costs, down from a current range that goes as high as 32 percent. In recent years, the Legislature has appropriated $50 million annually toward wooing filmmakers. The subsidies remain subject to approval by future lawmakers.

(517) 371-3660

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