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Sales tax increase, marijuana decriminalization on ballot for May 5 election

March 23, 2015

A statewide proposal to increase the sales and use tax from six to seven percent was added to the ballot to dedicate a higher portion of taxpayer money to the School Aid Fund.

The East Lansing City Council unanimously voted to propose an amendment to the Charter of the City of East Lansing regarding the sale of public land. The change involved the required three-fifths majority to sell certain real land becoming a simple majority vote.

However, it was recently revealed by the attorney general’s office that the designated charter requirement of a three-fifths voter approval for the sale of park land and cemeteries had been automatically amended to a simple majority vote when the Home Rule City Act was changed in 1966.

City Manager George Lahanas said that because the city has never sold park land since 1966, this change was not obvious. In fact, due to the changes it is currently easier for the city to sell park land than any other type of land.

The May 5 proposal will still have an effect on the sale of other properties that currently require a three-fifths majority voter approval.

The second proposed charter amendment would prohibit local laws regarding the use, possession and transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults over 21 on private property.

According to the Coalition for a Safer East Lansing, the city would join at least 23 other Michigan cities that have enacted similar legislation if it passes. Lansing passed the same proposal in 2013 with a 63 percent majority. The Coalition for a Safer East Lansing noted that in all of the other cities where similar reforms have been put in effect, cannabis-related crimes has not increased.

Recent polling has shown that 61 percent of voters support the decriminalization of marijuana, and several East Lansing City Council members have voiced their support as well.

One important reason for this proposal is to free up police resources related to enforcing cannabis restrictions.


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