Guest column: Reject hijacking of Michigan’s constitution by voting NO on Proposals 1 and 2

Nobody likes to be told what to do. Nobody likes to be scolded for what they have done.

But sometimes there is no alternative.

This autumn, the people of Michigan owe Lansing’s political bosses a serious dressing down.

Gentlemen and ladies of the Legislature, go to the woodshed, please. And lobbyists, get out of the way.

I’m speaking of wolves. I’m speaking about the political favor-seekers who kowtow to the trophy-hunter lobbyists. But what I’m really talking about is respect for the people of Michigan.

It’s an ideal worth defending.

It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand Section 9 of the state constitution: The people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and to enact and reject laws, called the initiative, and the power to approve or reject laws enacted by the legislature, called the referendum.

Let me underscore the word referendum. That’s when voters take it upon themselves to bring a law passed by politicians to a statewide vote. And when politicians overstep public will, the vote is NO and the law is repealed.

The Legislature started the showdown this election cycle by passing a law allowing the trophy hunting of wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – where only 650 or so of the animals remain after being driven to the brink of extinction. A broad coalition of Michigan voters objected – from Indian tribes in the UP to business leaders and wildlife scientists to animal welfare advocates. They gathered the requisite signatures to order a referendum on the law.

This appears on the November ballot at Question 1. A NO vote favors wolf protection and protects the rights of citizens from an overreaching and power-hungry Legislature.

That’s the way things are supposed to work.

But the special interests pushing wolf hunting had a different idea of how things work. They knew they couldn’t win a campaign in favor of killing these rare animals just as numbers start to recover.

So never mind giving voters a say. Legislators trumped up charges against the wolves and sidestepped the public and passed a second law with the same intent. This statute would have a politically appointed commission set a wolf-hunting season.

Rank-and-file Michigan voters responded again by exercising their constitutional responsibility. A petition drive gathered signatures to put this legislation action to referendum. It’s on the ballot as Proposal 2.

A NO vote protects wolves and the constitutional process.

Matters didn’t end there, though. The story gets worse, and I’ll explain.

But first let me say that for this statewide election cycle, it is crucial that Michigan voters defend both the constitution and the survival of wolves by voting NO on Proposals 1 and 2 -- nullifying these narrow interest laws and restoring the state’s long-standing ban on the trophy hunting of wolves not causing anyone any trouble. Anything less amounts to a coup d’état by trophy-hunting lobbyists and their apologists.

So how did things get worse?

Can you believe that with two referendum measures on the ballot, the Legislature passed a third law to get around voters and allow trophy hunters to shoot wolves?

It happened. Right here. With all the contempt for the public that we find appalling in authoritarian regimes abroad.

There wasn’t time to gather signatures to put Proposal 3 on the ballot, and lawmakers threw in an appropriations provisions that made a third referendum legally questionable. That fight will occur down the road, in the courts – and in the looming shadow of November’s election outcome. That’s why it’s so important that people reject the hijacking of Michigan’s constitution by voting NO on Proposals 1 and 2.

Michigan has a venerable hunting tradition. The honest values that many hunters hold as their own are not honored by the dishonest antics of trophy-hunter lobbyists and compliant legislators.

Nobody’s values are honored when supposed evidence of wolf threats to farm animals is revealed to be fabricated, as recently happened in the Upper Peninsula.

When you call someone a “straight shooter,” you’re praising their integrity not their marksmanship. And that’s just what Michigan politicians, people and wolves need on Nov. 4 – a triumph of the straight shooter.

Wayne Pacelle is president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States


Latest News

Press Releases: Dec 14, 2016

In the 2014 general election, Michigan voters soundly rejected two referendums on the trophy hunting and trapping of the state’s small population of wolves. But now, the Michigan legislature has rushed through another bill, SB 1187, to once again designate wolves as a game species to be hunted and trapped—in spite of that public rejection of an almost identical measure at the ballot box just two years ago...


Keep Wolves Protected is endorsed by a number of organizations and citizens including:

  • Kalamazoo Humane Society
  • Pamela Graves, DVM
  • Detroit Audubon Society
  • Michigan Animal Shelter Rescue Network
  • Aaron Payment, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
  • Voiceless-MI
  • Humane Society of Huron Valley
  • Detroit Zoological Society


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