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On the Five Mich. Ballot Initiatives

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
On the Five Mich. Ballot Initiatives story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Even though it may seem that the election season has already been going on forever, we still have 54 days until election day.

On that day, in addition to all the office holders being chosen, there will be five proposed amendments to the Michigan State Constitution on the state ballot.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says every one of them is a selfish enterprise, paid for by big money, and ought to be rejected.


I think that people who have lots of money to throw around think the average voter is at best, ill-informed... And at worst, stupid.

And sometimes I worry they might be right.

On the ballot this year, as you already heard, are five—count 'em—five amendments to the state constitution that for the most part are designed to benefit a select few.

And they're on the ballot because those who want them there have lots of money.

Once upon a time only true believers stood on street corners all over the state to gather enough signatures to get something on the ballot. It took dedication, time, and effort.

Now these groups just hire it out. It can cost well over a million dollars. And the petitions are written in an appealing way that can almost make you feel un-American by refusing to sign them.

Two of the proposals are thanks to the diminutive Detroit billionaire Matty Moroun.

For more than a year now he's spent millions of dollars on a bizarre ad campaign of lies, distortions, misinformation and disinformation.

He also donates tons of money to state reelection campaigns.

Moroun owns the Ambassador Bridge spanning the river between Detroit and Windsor. He's trying to keep the state and the government of Canada from building a new more efficient bridge two miles downstream.

Canada and Governor Snyder say our most important trading partner will foot the entire cost and get paid back in the years ahead through tolls.

Maroun says it'll cost us so much that we'll no longer be able to afford cops, teachers, schools, new roads, or anything else, for that matter, and that all of our children will starve and get mumps.

Moroun is just trying to hang on to his $60 million a year from his bridge.

I believe Snyder and Canada. I hope you do too.

Moroun's other proposal would require a super-majority in Lansing to raise or lower taxes.

Another seeks to put collective bargaining rights for home health workers into the state constitution.

I can't argue against collective bargaining as the only leverage workers have with business management, particularly at a time when CEO's often make 500 times what the average worker makes.

But collective bargaining as a Constitutional right? I don't think so.

Gov. Snyder thinks it would set labor laws back decades, and would also hinder economic recovery.

Another says that 25 percent of the state's energy should come from renewable sources by 2025.

A noble idea, but costly if not impossible to enforce.

We're headed that way anyway, without making it constitutional. Lets keep at it one logical step at a time.

A lot of stuff to digest. But after you do, I think you'll agree—that 'no' is the way to go.

In this corner... I'm Tom Van Howe.
On the Five Mich. Ballot Initiatives
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Business News

Last Update on April 16, 2014 17:29 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. factories continue to boost production.

The Federal Reserve says factory output rose 0.5 percent in March after a revised 1.4 percent surge in February. Manufacturing output has climbed a solid 2.8 percent over the past 12 months. Manufacturers produced more furniture, clothing, chemicals and aerospace products.

Higher factory output is a sign of greater demand by businesses and consumers. The gains over the past two months point to a rebound after a winter slowdown in January and December stalled growth across the economy.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, rose 0.7 percent in March. In February, industrial production had expanded 1.2 percent.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Home builders are picking up the pace after a frigid winter slowed work.

The Commerce Department says builders broke ground on 946,000 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in March. That's a 2.8 percent increase from February and the highest level in three months.

Construction of single-family homes rose 6 percent, more than offsetting a 3.1 percent drop in the construction of apartments, condominiums and town houses.

At the same time, however, applications for building permits slid, clouding the outlook for future construction.

As the weather moderated, construction rose more than 30 percent in the Northeast and 65 percent in the Midwest. But it fell in the South and West.

Applications for building permits, a gauge of future activity, fell 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Bank of America says it swung to a loss in the first quarter, hurt by $6 billion in legal expenses.

The Charlotte, N.C., bank reports a loss applicable to common shareholders of $514 million. That's compares with earnings of $1.11 billion a year earlier.

The loss amounts to 5 cents a share. A year earlier, the bank earned 10 cents a share.

Revenue totaled $22.66 billion after stripping out an accounting change. That was down 3.8 percent from last year.

The $6 billion legal expense stems from a previously announced settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and additional reserves for other mortgage-related matters.

The bank also says it reached a settlement with the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, as well as separate settlements with The Bank of New York Mellon, over residential mortgage-backed securities.


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- CSX railroad expects to deliver modest profit growth this year, but the impact of the severe winter will linger into the second quarter.

Officials with the railroad said on a conference call today that the improving economy and stronger domestic utility demand for coal will boost CSX's earnings in the second half of this year and in 2015.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad had said Tuesday that the harsh winter disrupted shipments and contributed to a 14 percent drop in its first-quarter profit even as it hauled 3 percent more freight. CSX estimates the snow and cold cost it 8 to 9 cents per share in lost revenue and increased expenses.


MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's economy minister says growth slowed to 0.8 percent in the first quarter due to uncertainty over the crisis in Ukraine.

Alexei Ulyukayev told parliament today that the country's economic situation has worsened because of "the acute international situation of the past two months," as well as "serious capital flight." More capital left the country in the first three months of 2014 than in all of 2013.

The growth figure fell far short of the ministry's earlier prediction of 2.5 percent.

Russian markets have been rattled by tensions between Moscow and neighboring Ukraine, where Russia annexed the Black Sea region of Crimea in March. Ukraine has accused Russia of supporting armed militants in the country's east, where pro-Russian activists have seized government buildings and police stations.


TOKYO (AP) -- The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo is headed for liquidation after a court rejected its bankruptcy protection application.

Mt. Gox says the Tokyo District Court decided the company would not be able to resurrect itself under a business rehabilitation process filed for in February.

An administrator will try to sell the company's assets, and many creditors, including those who had bitcoins with the exchange, are unlikely to get any money back.

After Mt. Gox went offline in February, its CEO (Mark Karpeles) said 850,000 bitcoins worth several hundred million dollars were unaccounted for, blaming a weakness in the exchange's systems. Mt. Gox later changed the estimate for the lost virtual currency to 650,000, although the exact amount is still under investigation.

Bitcoins were created in 2009 as a way to make transactions across borders without third parties such as banks.


DETROIT (AP) -- Pressure is building for Michigan lawmakers to commit $350 million to Detroit pensions after the bankrupt city reached tentative agreements with pension funds and a retiree group.

The deals are tied to Detroit getting money from the state over 20 years, along with $466 million in private money, all to shore up pensions.

Retired police and firefighters would see smaller cost-of-living payments. Other city retirees would see a 4.5 percent pension cut. The $816 million vanishes if retirees don't vote in favor in the weeks ahead.

Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says the deals are important, but he tells The Associated Press that persuading lawmakers to approve the money soon is difficult because of anti-Detroit sentiment in the Legislature.

Republicans control the House and Senate.

Washington Times