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Retiree has controversial ideas for rewrites to Michigan Constitution
By DAWSON BELL
Free Press Lansing Bureau - December 15, 2010

A retired but energetic state employee said Tuesday that he is set to launch a campaign to rewrite major sections of Michigan's Constitution and labor law to make government less expensive and the state's economic climate more competitive.

 

Steve Harry, 68, of Lansing, a retired systems analyst, said his "mother of all petition drives" will include proposals that would:

  • Eliminate the state Senate and term limits.

  • Ban collective bargaining for public employees.

  • Make Michigan a right-to-work state.

Harry said the proposals are the kind of radical transformation Michigan desperately needs and that its politicians have been incapable of delivering. Collective bargaining for government employees drives up the cost of services and imposes tax burdens on the private sector, he said. Making union membership voluntary in the private sector, the right-to-work proposal, would enhance personal freedom and send a signal to potential employers that Michigan is open for business, he said.

 

Harry said he will have the language reviewed by the state's elections panel Friday.

 

The Committee to Transform Michigan, of which he currently is the sole member, must raise $2 million-$3 million by the spring to launch a signature-gathering campaign, he said.

 

Should any of the measures qualify for the ballot, especially those affecting bargaining rights and union membership, opposition from interest groups would be ferocious.

 

For information on the campaign, visit www.transformmichigan.org .

 

State Retiree Hopes To Reform Michigan
MIRS (Michigan News & Information Network) - December 16, 2010

A retired state Systems Analyst is launching an effort beginning this week to shake up state government including eliminating the Senate in exchange for ending term limits. "Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, all the Canadian provinces have unicameral legislatures and I think a bicameral state legislature is just kind of an anachronism. The states mimic the federal government and the federal government has a Senate only so the small southern states would sign the constitution," said Steve HARRY. "I've known the Senate is kind of useless for years now."

But that's not all Harry wants to do. There are three other separate petitions he's putting together for review by the State Board of Canvassers this Friday. One would repeal the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA), which requires local governments to bargain collectively with employee unions. The third amendment would ban collective bargaining for state workers and instead start paying them market rates. And the final change Harry would like to see is making Michigan a "Right to Work" (RTW) state.

The 68 year-old retiree is also a former Democratic candidate for the House who ran against incumbent Rep. Joan BAUER (D-Lansing) in the 2008 primary. "I'd say it's pretty clear why he didn't do too well in the primary," Bauer told MIRS after reading about Harry's proposal. "His ideas don't exactly reflect Democratic values." Harry describes his 2008 run as a "hopeless run." In that run, Harry garnered 629 votes to Bauer's 5,822. "I lost big," he admits.

Harry said he's hoping that he'll secure enough volunteers and organizational support to raise what he believes will be the $2 to $3 million required to secure spots on the ballot. "I am just starting this up," he told MIRS. "There isn't any public information out there. This Board of Canvassers meeting is going to be the first thing."

Harry said he's had a web page up there on the ballot proposals. They can be found at www.transformmichigan.org. Harry also has a web page with essays outlining his views at: http://steveharrypublicpolicy.com.

When pressed over whether he thinks state employees are over paid, Harry offered up, "probably." He argues the collective bargaining system is actually reducing employment because government is paying more than the market rate for workers. "I think it causes unemployment," he said. "What I believe in, is the market wage. People should be paid no more than what it takes to get a full staff. If you can hire people for one amount, why pay a higher amount?"

 

Former State Employee Plans Petition Drive
Tim Skubick, WLNS TV News - December 16, 2010

Lansing resident and former state employee, Steve Harry, wants to launch a statewide petition drive to dramatically change the way state government operates. His suggestions include eliminating the Michigan Senate and term limits. He is also proposing ending collective bargaining and making Michigan a right to work state.

Mr. Harry, however, has no money and no organization but says you have got to start someplace.

"This is a start but I certainly cant do it alone," said Steve Harry, www.transformmich.org.

To abolish the state Senate, he will need over 400,000 signatures to place this issue on the ballot for you to decide.

Governor-elect Rick Snyder does not want to make Michigan a right to work state, but Mr. Harry says it would help create jobs, as would eliminating collective bargaining for state civil servants. "Instead of bargaining wages, you hire the people who are willing to work at the lowest price possible. It's just like free market," said Harry. 

Reporter: "And business says that's great for us, but business and the labor unions say bad for my members?" "Its bad for their members but good for the population in general," said Harry.

Mr. Harry says he will contact the Tea Party movement in hopes to get them on board for this petition drive, which he hopes to launch in April.

Meanwhile, one state Senator, whose job would be wiped out if Harry is successful, says don't discount this effort. "I think in the present political climate in this state considering all of those things would stand a chance it's not as far fetched as you might think," said Senator-elect Bruce Caswell, (R) West Michigan.

But first things first, Mr. Harry is headed to Florida for two months before launching his petition drive.
 

Early MI ballot efforts target term limits, unions

(Note: The above headline is the one that appeared in the Bloomberg News, the international news service founded by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. The article also appeared in several Michigan newspapers.)

By TIM MARTIN, The Associated Press - Dec 17, 2010

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A retired state employee took a small step Friday on his longshot quest to eliminate the state Senate, end term limits for legislators and make a host of changes bound to anger union-represented workers.

Steve Harry of Lansing is working on four possible, separate ballot proposals through an effort he calls the Committee to Transform Michigan. The Board of State Canvassers on Friday approved the forms of the petitions he plans to circulate for proposals he wants to put before voters in November 2012.

His other proposals would make Michigan a "right to work" state by prohibiting requirements to pay union dues as a condition of employment, and ban or repeal collective bargaining for public employees at the state and local levels.

 

Harry said unions burden state taxpayers by raising the cost of government and its employees, which in turn leads to short staffing because the government can't afford as many workers.

The Michigan AFL-CIO is monitoring the effort, ready to jump in with resources if the ballot campaign draws financial support and gains traction.

Harry said he is working alone, hasn't raised any money and doesn't have any volunteers. He estimates he will need at least $2 million to $3 million to get the proposals on the ballot.

Most of his proposals would change the state constitution and require more than 322,000 signatures just to make the ballot.

Friday's approval of petition forms is a minor step. It does not address the actual wording on petitions. And Harry, who acknowledges that hard work lies ahead, has not started collecting voter signatures.

"This approval really doesn't mean anything," Harry said after the election board approved the petition forms. "It means I've got the right font and the right paper size."

He hopes to gain support for his proposal from tea party activists and business groups.

Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney noted that Harry is a "one-man operation" but acknowledged unions are on guard against possible "right to work" movements after last year's election put Republicans in power in Michigan and many other states.

Similar efforts in Michigan have fizzled in recent years. And Michigan voters in November rejected a proposal automatically put on the ballot that would have authorized a rewrite of the state constitution.

Other campaigns are working toward qualifying for the ballot in Michigan. Another petition form before the state election board Friday is from a group called "Michigan Is Yours," which wants to allow casinos in Benton Harbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Mount Clemens, Romulus and Saginaw.

The casino effort failed to make the 2010 ballot.

One Man’s Mission: To Bring Real Hope & Change to Michigan
RedState.com - December 17th, 2010

The State of Michigan has seen better days. Once a symbol of the industrial might of the United States, Michigan’s boom days are considered long since past. Having been controlled by unions since shortly after World War II, Michigan rode the wave of the post-war boom before beginning a long and steady spiral downward as the Big Three began shedding jobs, and high unemployment helped lead to high crime rates as urban blight ravaged its cities. In fact, despite decades worth of efforts and studies [in PDF] done on the troubles Motor City has, Detroit still faces a possible bankruptcy in 2011.

 michigan-unemployment-copy_0.jpeg (792×612)

Now, however, as a result of the November 2nd election, there is potential to bring Michigan back from the abyss. Union-bought Democrats have finally lost their death grip on Michigan’s taxpayers and employers. This has given one man, Steve Harry, a retired state worker, the incentive to take matters into his own hands and begin working to change Michigan’s future by changing its labor laws and breaking the stranglehold unions still have on the state:

A retired but energetic state employee said Tuesday that he is set to launch a campaign to rewrite major sections of Michigan’s Constitution and labor law to make government less expensive and the state’s economic climate more competitive.

Steve Harry, 68, of Lansing, a retired systems analyst, said his “mother of all petition drives” will include proposals that would:

• Eliminate the state Senate and term limits.
• Ban collective bargaining for public employees.
• Make Michigan a right-to-work state.

Harry said the proposals are the kind of radical transformation Michigan desperately needs and that its politicians have been incapable of delivering. Collective bargaining for government employees drives up the cost of services and imposes tax burdens on the private sector, he said. Making union membership voluntary in the private sector, the right-to-work proposal, would enhance personal freedom and send a signal to potential employers that Michigan is open for business, he said. [Emphasis added.]

Although he is currently the only member, Mr. Haley has only recently set up The Committee to Transform Michigan and is looking to have a serious petition-signing campaign begin next summer. Haley is serious about this effort and has set up a website, www.transformmichigan.org, where you can learn more about his efforts.

While the debate over whether or not Michigan moves to become the nation’s 23rd Right-to-Work state has raged in Michigan off and on for years. The last serious attempt was just two years ago, but it ultimately failed. This time, though, may be different.

Perhaps Mr. Haley will get enough people involved to help change Michigan’s union-dominated culture. If he does, it might be possible to begin reversing the decades-long decay that has plagued the state. It is time to give Michigan the fighting chance to prosper again and the only thing that stands in its way are the unions.

Retired state employee takes aim at collective bargaining
Scott Davis' Capitol Journal blog in the Lansing State Journal - December 18, 2010

Michigan state employees have plenty to worry about these days with Rick Snyder soon taking the oath of governor -- a politician who said clearly during his campaign that employee salary and benefits would be on the table in any plan to cut the projected $1.6 billion deficit next year.

 

Now, they may have more thing to worry about – a retired state employee named Steve Harry. The Lansing man, who worked two decades as a state employee, mostly in the Department of Human Services, has filed proposed ballot petitions that would dissolve the state Senate, end term limits for lawmaker and prohibit any requirements to pay union dues as a condition of employment in Michigan. Of biggest potential concern to state and local employees is another provision repealing collective bargaining rights for these employees.

 

Harry, who says he doesn’t believe he ever belonged to a union as a state employee, is a man on a mission. He believes unions have driven up wages both in the public and private sectors, and he believes that eliminating union rights will spur job creation and curb the state’s high unemployment rate.

 

Despite his passion, he still is lacking the $2 million to $3 million needed for a viable ballot measure campaign or any volunteers to help gather the 322,000 signatures needed to get most of the proposals on the ballot.

 

Meanwhile, Michigan union leaders say they are not really concerned. But they were concerned enough to show up Friday at a meeting of the state Board of Canvassers meeting, which approved Harry’s forms.

 

Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney said union groups are ready to step in with resources to campaign against the ballot measures, if they meet with much public support. “We’ll be watching closely,” Gaffney said.

One and Counting
Skoops Blog - Tim Skubick in the Oakland Press - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's pretty amazing that this guy is getting any media coverage at all. 

 

After all, he has no money, no organization, no political connections and some unkind louts would say he has no brain either. The other stuff is true but Steve Harry does have some gray matter and he's on a one-man crusade to put it to good use by abolishing the Michigan Senate, abolishing term limits, abolishing collective bargaining for public employees and converting the union-dominated State of Michigan into a Right to Work state which would gut the union movement big time. 

 

Harry wants to launch four petition drives and recently appeared before a state election agency to get approval of his petition forms. That's the easy part and didn't cost him a dime. Isn't state government grand?  

 

Now all he needs is about $2-3 million dollars, by his own estimate. He's probably short about a mil or so, but then who is counting.

 

"I think by April, we can come up with the money," he optimistically says while trying to convince the doubters that maybe he doesn't need a brain transplant. "I can't do this alone," he confess in the understatement of the month.  

 

Yep. He will need help and he hopes to drill a successful hole by asking the Tea Party folks to join in the fun. "I will talk to them," he suggests.

 

Now all he needs is about 400,000 signatures to put these four reforms on the state wide ballot. And if he gets those, he'll need another couple bucks to sell it to the voters.

 

Mr. Harry is a former state worker, a self-avoided [sic] liberal democrat and ready to do his part to revamp the government.

 

Maybe he could get the Nerd to help out. Ya know..hold some town hall meetings, draft a four-plan and then hope Virg Bernero gets angry again and comes out against it.