Petition to ban prevailing wage moves forward, pot legalization stalled


A state elections board has given a green light to a petition drive to ban prevailing wage requirements in Michigan.

The petition language mirrors legislation currently in the state House that would end laws requiring union-level pay and benefits for workers on publicly-funded construction projects. Those bills appear to be stalled.

Supporters of banning prevailing wage say the petition drive does not mean they’re giving up on a legislative solution.

“This just guarantees that, one way or another, this issue will be settled for once and for all in 2015,” said Chris Fisher, who heads the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan (ABC).

Fisher, whose group represents non-union construction workers in Michigan, calls prevailing wage “a costly, burdensome, job-killing regulation.”

Gov. Rick Snyder opposes repealing prevailing wage partly because he believes it would hurt his push to boost skilled trades in Michigan. If the petition drive is successful, state lawmakers can approve the measure without needing the governor’s signature.

Meanwhile, a campaign to legalize and tax recreational marijuana in Michigan hit a small roadblock with the same elections panel on Tuesday.

The Board of State Canvassers was set to review petition language, but the Michigan Cannabis Coalition withdrew the language at the last minute.

“There’s a couple of provisions that we wanted to change just to make it perfect,” said Andrea Hansen.

“It was fine as it was – we could have submitted it. But we have enough time that we might as well make sure that we’re 100 percent confident and happy with the language.”

Hansen says they hope to resubmit the language by the end of the week. She says the changes are technical in nature, and do not change the policy goals of the measure.

The coalition is one of three groups working to put a marijuana legalization question on the 2016 ballot. If more than one measure gets on the ballot and majority support, the measure with the most votes becomes law.