Elections bureau OKs Calley part-time petition

Jonathan Oosting

Lansing — The Michigan Bureau of Elections has completed its review of Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s petition for a part-time legislature and will recommend the Board of State Canvassers give the OK for the form to be circulated for signatures.

The bureau gave the petition extra scrutiny last week to determine if it properly identified all sections of the Michigan Constitution it would repeal or change, prompting an abrupt cancellation of a board meeting and speculation over political motivations by Calley’s allies.

But elections staff is now “satisfied the petition form meets the technical requirements in state law” and will recommend approval, Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said Thursday morning.

A new board meeting has not yet been scheduled, but “there could be one next week,” Woodhams said.

Calley announced the development in a Thursday morning Facebook post, saying his Clean Michigan Committee continues “to collect thousands of petition signatures every day and look forward to voters having their voices heard.”

Board of State Canvassers approval is an optional step most committees take to minimize the possibility of future legal challenges. Calley’s committee began collecting signatures immediately after he announced the petition drive May 30 on Mackinac Island.

The potential ballot proposal would roughly halve legislator pay and generally limit the legislature to meeting 90 consecutive session days, unless the governor calls a special session.

Calley, a Portland Republican, is considering a run for governor in 2018. The part-time proposal could help him burnish his conservative credentials with GOP primary voters otherwise frustrated with his role in the Snyder administration.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, a part-time legislature proponent who is also widely expected to seek the Republican nomination, last week denied his office had done anything to slow the review of Calley’s petition.

Schuette’s office provides staff attorneys to all state departments and agencies, including the Bureau of Elections. But Woodhams said it was bureau staff that first raised new “alter and abrogate” questions over the part-time petition.

Organizers would need to collect more than 315,000 valid signatures to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot in 2018.