Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why Michigan needs a New Constitution

This fall, Michigan voters will be asked if we should have a constitutional convention to rewrite Michigan's Constitution. Michigan voters are asked every 16 years if we should rewrite our constitution, but this measure has failed several times. Michigan's current constitution was written in the 1960s.

I wholeheartedly support a NEW Constitution for Michigan. Some of my reasons include:

1. Home rule: The economic inefficiencies resulting from strict and explicit "home rule". Home rule in Michigan means local governments control just about everything including land use planning and zoning. As a result of strict home rule, planning is uncoordinated, land and buildings are underutilized, local governments are more competitive with one another, which has led many to build infrastructure to lure new business and residents without doing a long-term cost benefit analysis on whether the infrastructure costs more than the tax base produced from building the infrastructure.

2. Regional self-determination: Counties and regions, especially those with an urban/suburban makeup, need greater control over their economic destiny and greater ability to raise money to invest in regional assets. This not only includes the Metro Detroit, but also the regions around Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Ann Arbor. These regions have different needs that the rest of the State, and should be less dependent on state funding mechanisms and the existing taxation mechanisms to invest in common assets.

These are just the two main reasons why we need a new State Constitution. Others include the provision that mandates that 90% of all transportation funds spent in Michigan must be spent on roads (I'm guessing this one was put in by the auto industry).

It is time for Michigan to reinvent itself, and that means reinventing our laws to confront the challenges of the 21st century. The past 50 years of an up and down economy along with slowing population growth shows that we are not always set up to succeed. It's not that Michigan was dealt a bad hand. It's that we are playing the wrong game. Our citizens deserve better options and our counties, regions, and our citizens deserve more options in controlling our economic destiny.

I invite others to share their ideas in support of a new Michigan Constitution.

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