Michigan voters have the opportunity to wipe the slate clean this fall when they are asked if the state should rewrite its constitution through a constitution convention. I think it is absolutely necessary that we start from scratch. Besides the obvious problems associated with business taxation, there are too many things that are built into the law that make our state uncompetitive and unable to adapt. Below are a few suggestions and reasons why we need a new constitution.
1. Restructuring of Michigan’s government, its bureaucratic structures, and its agencies so that it can adapt to the challenges of the 21st century. These challenges include sustainability, land use planning, protecting our environment, transportation planning, delivering services electronically, and building an economy that is immune to the busts and booms of the automotive industry.
2. Reducing litigation and incentivizing mediation. – Michigan is one of the highest litigated states in the country. Our progress is slowed by lawsuit after lawsuit. We have stalled in reforming our state for too long. It’s time to restructure our laws so that the costs (in time) of resolving legal disputes are minimized.
3. Bring back eminent domain – Detroit isn’t the only city that needs it. There are too many barriers in place to assembling land into larger parcels, and too many parties that can claim some piece of property. We’ve sprawled so far out and left too many pieces of land in ruins. We cannot think about land parcel-by-parcel, or even block by block. We need to think about smart growth on the regional level.
4. Reduce the size of Michigan’s legislative body. A well compensated, full time, two house legislature that takes until the last day of the year to complete a budget doesn’t reflect streamlined decision-making.
5. Roll back home-rule or mitigate the impact of municipality by municipality planning and bureaucracy.
6. Identify new tax revenue streams to fund new infrastructure.
7. Empower regional governance and regionally elected leaders.
8. Merge city and county governments where possible.
I am no expert on the law, but in my short time understanding how our state is structured, these are some of the reasons why we need to play a new game in Michigan.