Traverse City News and Events

Election Guide: State, County Ballot Proposals

By Beth Milligan | Oct. 4, 2022

Grand Traverse County voters will face a hefty ballot in the November 8 general election, featuring not only numerous candidate races but multiple state ballot proposals and local millage requests. In today’s Ticker, we look at the three statewide ballot proposals and seven countywide millage requests that will appear on almost every Grand Traverse County ballot this election. Stay tuned tomorrow for an overview of the handful of township and city-specific proposals Grand Traverse County voters will decide on this fall, plus coverage of key candidate races in the coming weeks.

Statewide Ballot Proposals
Michigan voters will decide the fate of three statewide ballot proposals to amend the state constitution, all of which have faced legal challenges amid the current polarized political environment.

Proposal 1: Term Limits, Financial Disclosures
What It Is: This amendment would reduce the maximum length a Michigan lawmaker can serve in the legislature from 14 to 12 years and allow lawmakers to serve that entire time in one chamber (legislators can currently serve up to six years in the Michigan House and eight years in the Michigan Senate). The amendment would also require lawmakers, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, and the state attorney general to file annual public financial disclosure reports after 2023 describing their assets, income sources, liabilities, future employment agreements, gifts, travel reimbursements, and positions held outside public office except in religious, social, and political organizations.
What Else to Know: Michigan lawmakers voted in May to put this amendment on the ballot, albeit with watered-down language compared to an initial version backed by a bipartisan group. The amendment is supported by Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, the Michigan AFL-CIO, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, among others. The Michigan Term Limits Defense Fund is opposed. Economist Patrick Anderson filed a legal challenge against the amendment – saying a ballot proposal addressing both term limits and financial disclosures was dual-purpose and thus unconstitutional – but was rejected by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Proposal 2: Promote the Vote/Voting Rights
What It Is: This amendment would change the state constitution to do the following: require nine days of early in-person voting; recognize the fundamental right to vote without harassing conduct; require military or overseas ballots to be counted if postmarked by election day; provide voters the right to verify identity with photo ID or signed statement; provide voters the right to a single application to vote absentee in all elections; require state-funded absentee-ballot drop boxes and postage for absentee applications and ballots; provide that only election officials may conduct post-election audits; allow donations to fund elections, which must be disclosed; and require canvass boards to certify election results based only on the official records of votes cast.
What Else to Know: Groups including the ACLU of Michigan, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, Voters Not Politicians, and the Fair Elections Center back the proposal. A group called Defend Your Vote unsuccessfully challenged the amendment, and Republicans have generally opposed it due to concerns over election costs and security. After the Board of State Canvassers failed to put the amendment on the ballot in a 2-2 deadlock, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered it to be certified and placed before voters.

Proposal 3: Reproductive Rights
What It Is: The amendment would change the state constitution to establish an individual right to reproductive freedom, including the right “to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility.” It would allow the state to regulate abortions after fetal viability, but not prohibit them if “medically needed to protect a patient’s life or physical or mental health.” The amendment would also prohibit prosecution of an individual exercising their reproductive rights or helping a pregnant person exercise their reproductive rights. Finally, the amendment would invalidate any existing conflicting state laws, such as a 1931 law criminalizing abortion in Michigan that was recently blocked by a Michigan Court of Claims judge.
What Else To Know: More than 750,000 signatures were submitted to put this amendment on the ballot, the most in state history. As with Proposal 2, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 along party lines on certifying the proposal, with the Michigan Supreme Court then ordering it to be certified and placed before voters. The amendment is backed by groups including Reproductive Freedom for All, the ACLU of Michigan, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and is opposed by groups including Right to Life Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference.

Countywide Millage Requests
Due in part to a commitment by Grand Traverse County commissioners to only put millages on the ballot in general election years and in part to rising property values triggering Headlee rollbacks, Grand Traverse County voters will see at least seven millage requests on the ballot this fall, what County Finance Director Dean Bott described as a “monster ballot." Here are the seven that will appear on almost all county ballots. (Note: TCAPS is not on the ballot in Fife Lake, Mayfield, and Paradise townships. See tomorrow's Ticker for details on additional proposals that are township and city-specific).

Proposals 1 & 2: Grand Traverse County Commission on Aging, Senior Center Millage Renewals  
What It Is: The Commission on Aging proposal would renew an existing millage in the amount of .5 mills to fund and operate the department, which provides services to citizens 60 years and older. The estimated cost for a residential parcel with a taxable value of $100,000 would be $50 per year. The 10-year millage would run from 2023 through 2032 and raise an estimated $3,025,157 in its first year. The Senior Center proposal would renew an existing millage in the amount of .10 mills to fund and operate the Grand Traverse County Senior Centers. The estimated cost for a residential parcel with a taxable value of $100,000 would be $10 per year. The 10-year millage would run from 2023 through 2032 and raise an estimated $547,010 in its first year.
What Else To Know: According to County Deputy Administrator Chris Forsyth, both millages were sought for the maximum length allowed by law – 10 years – to ensure funding is available “to meet the growing needs related to senior services” in a county with an expanding number of retirees. A previous Commission on Aging millage passed in 2016 also specified funding was limited to in-home services, while the renewal language this year is broadened to just senior services to offer more programming flexibility. Both millages are operational and do not include construction costs for a new Senior Center, an idea that was previously floated but dropped after state lawmakers earmarked $7 million for the rebuild this summer.

Proposals 3 & 4: Grand Traverse County Veterans Affairs, Animal Control Millages
What It Is: The Veterans Affair proposal would renew an existing millage in the amount of .12 mills to fund and operate the Grand Traverse County Veterans Affairs Office. The estimated cost for a residential parcel with a taxable value of $100,000 would be $12 per year. The 6-year millage would run from 2022 through 2027 and raise an estimated $695,553 in its first year. The Animal Control proposal would authorize a new additional millage to fund the animal control programs, facilities, personnel, and necessary expenses for the Grand Traverse County Animal Control Agency in the amount of 0.037 mills. The estimated cost for a residential parcel with a taxable value of $100,000 would be $3.70 per year. The 6-year millage would run from 2022 through 2027 and raise an estimated $236,190 in its first year.
What Else To Know: Animal Control was previously funded by a three-year millage approved by voters in 2018, but it expired last year, leaving the county's general fund to cover the program for a year until a new millage request could be put on the ballot. With inflation rates still high and the economic future uncertain, several commissioners said that putting the millages on the ballet was important to ensure funding remains in place for veterans and animal control services in the coming years.

Proposals 5 & 6: TCAPS, Northwest Education Services Millages
What It Is: Due to rising property values triggering Headlee rollbacks, both Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) and Northwest Education Services (formerly TBAISD) will seek voter approval to maintain their existing millage rates. The TCAPS proposal would collect up to two mills to ensure TCAPS doesn’t drop below its 18-mill level, which the district is required to levy to receive full state funding for students. The levy only applies to second homes and commercial properties, not primary residences. Northwest Education Services is seeking a 0.5-mill restoration millage for 10 years to ensure it can maintain its existing 2-mill levy, which helps cover special education services for 3,000 students.
What Else To Know: Neither proposal represents a levy increase; rather, districts are trying to maintain their approved millage rates (when property values exceed inflation, Headlee rollbacks kick in and decrease the levies). According to TCAPS Associate Superintendent of Finance & Operations Christine Thomas-Hill, the district’s proposal ensures that if a Headlee rollback does drop TCAPS below its current 18-mill level, it can still levy up to 18 mills and avoid jeopardizing the district’s state funding.

Proposal 7: BATA Millage Renewal
What It Is: Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) is seeking a millage renewal levy at a rate of 0.4788 mills to continue operations for bus service from January 2023 through December 2027. The millage will raise $4,783,786 in annual property tax revenue collectively from Leelanau and Grand Traverse County residents ($1,636,047 from Leelanau and $3,147,740 from Grand Traverse). One-third of BATA’s budget is funded by the local millage, with some of those funds leveraged to obtain additional state and federal dollars; according, without a renewal BATA would lose approximately 40 percent of its total funding.
What Else To Know: BATA notes that the proposal continues the organization’s current property millage at a lower tax rate than the previous voter-approved 2017 amount of 0.5 mills. BATA serves an area of 900 square miles, averaging nearly 400,000 trips per year and more than 170,000 rides for seniors and disabled riders.

To see a full sample of your Michigan ballot this election including all races and proposals, click here.

Comment

Michigan State Police To Reopen Traverse City Post

Read More >>

Save The Date: Recess of Giving December 7!

Read More >>

Townships Use Moratoriums To Address Hot-Button Issues

Read More >>

Great Lakes Incubator Farm Receives Nearly $700K Grant

Read More >>

Last Call For City Commission Applicants

Read More >>

Spotlight On Northern Michigan Artisans, Makers & Crafters

Read More >>

Curling Center On Track For January Opening; More Additions Planned At Kmart Property

Read More >>

Snow, Freeze, Thaw, Melt: How Local Ski Resorts Navigate Big Weather Fluctuations

Read More >>

Turkeys, Tonics, And Tales Of Thanksgivings Past In Traverse City

Read More >>

Is Thanksgiving Eve Really The Busiest Bar Night Of The Year?

Read More >>

How NMC's Newest Degree Could Help Shape Water Cleanup Projects In Michigan And Beyond

Read More >>

Downtown Light Parade Rescheduled For Tuesday

Read More >>

It's The Ticker and TCBN's Only Sale Of The Year: 40-65 Percent Off

Read More >>

Road Project Updates: Hartman-Hammond Bridge, Bluff Road, Veterans/Cedar Run/Voice Resurfacing

Read More >>