Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Results from May 5 election: No to tax hike, yes to marijuana decriminalization

May 5, 2015

After the last ballot was counted Tuesday night, voters had struck down one state proposal and voted yes to two local ones.

State Proposal 15-1, which would have increased sales tax and others to fix roads, was defeated by Michigan voters.

Local Proposals 1 and 2 were both accepted by voters. 

Prop 1 will decriminalize marijuana possession in East Lansing. Prop 2 will allow to City Council to sell property with a simple majority vote from citizens as opposed to the current 60 percent super majority requirement. 

Despite initial expectations of a low voter turnout, East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks said voters were passionate about the proposals and the polls were relatively busy nearing the end of the day.

"We were pleasantly surprised by the turnout," she said.

Although turnout was decent, she said students in particular didn't vote as much as she had anticipated.

'We thought coming on the heels of ... (an) election, we thought students would turnout to vote but we only had 25 or 30 votes on campus," she said.

State Proposal 15-1

Michigan voters defeated Proposal 15-1, which would have increased the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent and increased the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel to annually adjust for inflation.

Vehicle registration fees would have also increased. Dedicated revenue from this would have gone directly to roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

Before all the votes were counted, Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Tuesday night the measure had been defeated.

Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, said in a statement that Michigan voters want a simple solution – low taxes and a focus on roads instead of other projects.

"We put this question to the people, and they answered decisively," Cotter said. "We will begin work immediately on addressing the road funding issue that still faces this state.”

Jim Santilli, executive director of the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan, said in a statement Michigan is known for having some of the worst road and bridge conditions across the nation.

“With our road system deteriorating rapidly, we will likely see an increase in road and bridge closures, vehicle repairs and incidents causing injury and death to motorists,” Santilli said.

He also said numerous members of the Michigan Legislature failed to explain the full details of Proposal 1 to their constituents.

“I challenge the members of the Michigan Legislature who opposed it to develop and present a feasible solution to Governor Snyder during 2015,” Santilli said.

Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said in a conference call that a long-term fix is needed for the roads to help strengthen Michigan's economy and keep people safe.

In addition to the state Prop 15-1, East Lansing citizens voted on two local proposals.

The first being to decriminalize the use of marijuana and to amend the East Lansing City Charter so a simple majority would be required to sell publicly owned property, rather than the three-fifths majority currently in place.

Local Proposal 1

While a majority of citizens voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana in the City of East Lansing, this will not change state or federal prohibitions regarding use, possession or transfer of the drug.

The proposed amendment was initiated by a petition. It will limit the city from having or enforcing certain local ordinances regulating marijuana.

In the city’s code of ordinances, nothing would apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than one ounce of marijuana on private property or transportation of less than one ounce of marijuana by someone who is 21-years-old or older.

East Lansing police Lt. Steve Gonzalez said confusion will come into play because under state law, marijuana possession is still a misdemeanor.

“Despite that even if it's not a criminal offense under this vote, it’s still one under state law,” Gonzalez said. “It would be pretty inappropriate and unethical of us to pick and choose what state laws we're going to enforce.”

From July 1, 2014 there have been 26 marijuana arrests. From January 1, 2013 there have been 197 citations regarding marijuana possession.

East Lansing’s current ordinance says for the first offense, a maximum $25 fine and a maximum of 45 days of community service.

The second offense is a maximum fine of $100 and maximum 90 days of community service.

Local Proposal 2

The passing of Prop 2 will allow the City Council to sell property with a simple majority vote from citizens. 

Mayor Nathan Triplett has strongly endorsed the passing of the local Prop 2 so City Council can proceed with selling blighted property, but as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, results are too close to call with 53 percent of voters in favor of the East Lansing charter amendment proposal. Nine more precincts have yet to report results.  

He previously told The State News Editorial Board that East Lansing is one of only three cities in the state that requires a supermajority to sell land. All other cities require a 50 percent-plus-one majority.

In November, Fifty-seven percent of voters approved the city’s proposed sale of the blighted Park District area to DTN Management Co.

However, because of the current 60 percent voter approval requirement, the sale could not go through.

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