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October 26, 2006 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-26

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 5A

A proposed constitutional amendment to require
that money held in conservation and recreation
funds can only be used for their intended purposes
A yes vote on Proposal 1 supports writing a set of conservation and recreation funds into
the state Constitution. User fees like state park entrance and hunting license fees would
go into these funds and could not be diverted for other uses. Opponents argue Michigan
already has similar legislation in place. Proponents say that legislation is not sufficient to
ensure the state doesn't dip in to these user fees in the face of a budget crisis.
Support Prop. 1 to protect Michigan's parks

Funds for protecting nature are vulnerable
- and may become even more so as the state
faces an ever-tightening budget. The environ-
ment is not something state legislators should
have the ability to fund on a whim. Not pro-
tecting these areas will result in irreparable
damage, and funding must not be left open for
question. A yes vote on Proposal 1will guaran-
tee some constant funding for the protection of
state parks.
The resources at stake are collected from
what are essentially user fees - money that is
paid for hunting and fishing licenses, asowell as
entrance fees paid at certain parks. Proposal 1
would simply ensure that this money is used
for its intended purpose by placing it in a new

"Conservation and Recreation Legacy Fund."
This move would eliminate the possibility
that these resources could be transferred to
supplement the state's general fund, which
supports many state programs.
The fear is that in times of economic hard-
ship - such as now and the foreseeable future
- legislators and governors will find it diffi-
cult to justify funding state parks when faced
with pressing issues of education and health
care that desperately need help as well.
While it may seem odd to add such specific
language to the state Constitution, the fact
of the matter is that it is needed. Michigan's
beautiful natural scenery is part of what
defines the state and attracts many visitors.
Even though the state is suffering economi-
cally, diverting funding from state parks' cof-

fers would be shortsighted.
Current law maintains that these funds be
used to cover upkeep of state parks. Yet the
risk of abuse is real. In 2003, $7.8 million was
taken from the Waterways Fund to give to the
general fund. Proposal 1 would prevent this
from happening again.
Voters have already adopted other means
of fundingstate parks, so the current proposal
would simply ensure funding to these vulner-
able areas is used as intended.
The money outdoor enthusiasts pay to use
Michigan's natural resources ought to be used
to ensure that these resources are preserved
for years to come.
Milly Dick is an LSA junior and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.

Proposal 3
An act to allow the establishment of a
hunting season for mourning doves
Proposal 3 is a referendum giving Michigan voters a chance to approve or overturn a 2004
bill that lifted a century-old Michigan ban on dove hunting. After the first dove hunting
season that fall, opponents gathered enough signatures to suspend the law in 2005. Ayes
vote will re-enact the 2004 legislation, adding mourning doves to the list of game birds and
requiring dove hunters to purchase a $2 dove stamp in addition to a small game license.
State symbol of peace, not cheap target practice

In 2004, pro-hunting groups lobbied suc-
cessfully to lift the ban because they feared
that any exclusion of non-endangered ani-
mals eventually could lead to the exclusion of
other, more popular, animals. On top of this
argument being ill-founded, the hunting of
these harmless songbirds provides no envi-
ronmental benefit and nothing more than
pure recreational benefit to hunters.
If history has proven anything in the case
of the mourning dove, it is that its protected
status has no bearing on the status of other
animals. For100 years, Michigan has protect-
ed the dove - and for 100 years, this protec-
tion has not hindered hunting in Michigan.
Michigan has a rich hunting tradition that
couldn't possibly be affected by leaving alone
one species of bird.

There is no legitimate reason to believe
that the mourning dove poses a threat to the
environment. According to the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, the dove population has
been decreasing in the western part of the
country and overpopulation is not a concern
that needs population-management hunting.
In fact, some experts argue that the hunting
of doves would be worse for the environment
than leaving them be. Doves play a crucial
role in helping farmers by eating weed seeds.
Plus, because doves are difficult to shoot,
hunters use more shots to hit them and sub-
sequently leave more lead pellets to contami-
nate the earth and animals that ingest them.
There is also no reason to believe that
the mourning dove is anything more than
a recreational hunting bird. During the fall
hunting season, the mourning dove is at its
lightest weight of less than four ounces, with

very little of that being edible meat. Besides,
there are 40 other species of bird allowed
under law to hunt which are legitimate food
sources. Instead the dove is merely a source
of enjoyment - or a "cheap skeet," as some
hunters call them - because its mid-air tac-
tics make it difficult to kill. Statistics from
the Wildlife Society Bulletin even found that
between 21 and 47 percent of mourning doves
shot by hunters are never retrieved.
Ultimately, Proposal 3 is nothing more
than a vile attempt by pro-hunting groups
to undermine a long tradition in Michigan
of protecting a harmless bird. A vote for Pro-
posal 3 is a vote to allow the state's symbol of
peace to become target practice for irrespon-
sible hunting lobbies.
Gary Graca is a LSA freshman and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.

Proposal 4
A proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit
government from taking private property by
eminent domain for certain private purposes
Proposal 4 comes as a response to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain.
It would prohibit state or local government from seizing land for economic development
or to increase tax revenue. When reclaiming properties for public use, the government
would have to provide compensation of 125 percent its market value to the owner.
Unnecessary amendment hinders urban renewal

Proposa 5
A legislative
initiative to
establish yearly
mandatory school
funding increases
A yes vote means an immediate $565 million
increase in K-16 school funding. Education
appropriations would increase annually in step
with inflation. It would also limit public schools'
contributions to retirement funds and health
care for teachers, shifting the remainingburden
to the state. Opponents say the initiative is for
the sake of teachers rather than students, and it
could squeeze funding for other state services.
Supporters argue the initiative is necessary to
prioritize education.
Secure education funding
first, then fix economy
BY JESSI HOLLER attract businesses to Michigan,
earn high-salaried jobs and help the
The prospect of a zero-sum game economy at large. However, in order
oes not bode well for a concerned for this long-term economic renais-
lectorate, especially when that sante-through-education to occur,
ame centers on state funding of the state Legislature will have to
public education. Such is the grip answer some difficult questions.
:hat Proposal 5, the "Educational Proposal S is expected to increase
Funding Guarantee Law," holds the state's costs by at least $565 mil-
>ver Michigan. Those committed lion in the first year. Furthermore,
:o bolstering Michigan's education the Citizens' Research Council of
system through guaranteed funding Michigan warns that the state's
:ome across as economically inept. costs may rise faster than infla-
>pponents of Proposal 5, "support- tion. Since state finances must be
ng" Michigan public education in guaranteed to the schools, the only
:he abstract while voting to kill this available solutions loom ominously:
November's legislative initiative, "crowding out" other state-funded
.ook a whole lot like they're not sup- public welfare initiatives, increas-
orting public e du ation. ing taxes (or closing tax loopholes,
A glimpse at theat-16 Coalition depending on your view) or finding
for Michigan's Future website epito- some way to increase state revenue.
mizes the nature of the divide: Save Without doubt, an unbending
education and then the economy, or set of funding guarantees demands
:he economy first and then educa- legislative creativity and the devel-
:ion? The saccharine photo spreads opment of comprehensive oversight
>fbeaming children doa remarkable policies and accountability mea-
ob of muddying a fiscal initiative sures to ensureincreased state funds
with pathos for public education as really do reach the classroom.
everybody's favorite cornerstone And if that legislative creativity
>f democracy." While Proposals 5's can'tbehad,wouldn'titjustbebetter
>pponents may not be awaiting the to vote down the flawed educational
:hance to dance upon the shattered funding initiative to begin with? No.
:olumns of Jefferson's vision of an Better to goad Michigan's democra-
enlightened electorate, even the cy into action and work to guarantee
rost idealistic students should real- the effectiveness of a measure cre-
ize that Proposal 5 isn't all about the ated to ensure the state's economic
:lassroom. And that may notbe such future than to wait around for some
a terrible thing. toothless policy alternative. In this
The force of Proposal 5 rests democracy, amendment is difficult,
>n its ability to bridge concern for but not impossible: The state Legis-
immediate changes in the quality lature can always overturn Proposal
>f public education with long-term 5 by a three-fourths majority vote.

The wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo
v. City of New London decision has left many
questioning the ethics of government taking
property and giving it to another private enti-
ty for the sake of economic development. The
decision has understandably rattled property
rights activists across the country. Proposal
4 is Michigan's Kelo reaction - or rather, its
Voters must realize that Kelo's implica-
tions do not apply to the state of Michigan.
The Michigan Supreme Court's 2004 ruling
in Wayne County v. Hathcock reversed the
infamous Poletown v. City ofDetroit decision
and clearly stated that eminent domain for
economic development was not considered a
"public use." Because Michigan law is more
restrictive than Kelo, it is the controlling
Some argue that a constitutional amend-
ment is necessary to reinforce the Hathcock
decision in case the courts change their mind.

Proposal 4 is an example of political senti-
ments interfering with the powers of the
court. There is a virtue to letting the courts
interpret what is deemed "public use" as our
standards change over time. A constitutional
amendment might lock us into an undesirable
situation in the future.
The more stirring (albeit legally moot) ethi-
cal question about eminent domain for eco-
nomic development only distracts voters from
the real danger of Proposal 4. If Proposal 4
passes, it will create serious barriers to urban
redevelopment. It will require governments to
compensate landowners with 125 percent of
the property's market value. This increased
price will make renewal more expensive when
the reason governments pursue economic
redevelopment is that they are financially
strapped in the first place.
Proposal 4 will also increase the evidential
burden on governments to designate areas
as blighted and will force governments to
condemn properties on a case-by-case basis
instead of districts as a whole. True, this

approach lets a little old lady with a mani-
cured lawn keep her house - but it also allows
a derelict landowner who is holding out for
more money to seriously hinder comprehen-
sive redevelopment projects. In a time when
Michigan is in financial crisis, it can ill afford
to deny local governments the few tools they
have to stop economic hemorrhaging.
A statewide constitutional amendment is
simply bad policy and an unnecessarily broad
sword when urban renewal requires the
finesse of a scalpel. This is why courts are, for
the most part, deferential to local decision-
makers when it comes to regulating their own
development. If local legislators wish to cre-
ate extra restrictions on their ability to blight
areas, they are free to do so. However, tying
the hands of all governments in Michigan,
especially those in dire economic straights, is
both unnecessary and unfair.
Sam Butler is a second-year graduate
student in the School of Urban Planning and
a member of the Daily's editorial board.


goals for the economy. Better-fund-
ed schools produce more highly
educated students, who in turn

Jessi Holler is an LSA freshman and
a member of the Daily's editorial board.


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