Prop 2 could bar felons from public office

— Residents across Genesee County and the rest of Michigan will have the option of accepting or declining a proposed Constitutional amendment to bar certain felons out of office and some jobs during the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election.

Proposal 10-2’s ballot language would “Make a person ineligible for election or appointment to any state or local elective office or to hold a position in public employment in this state that is policymaking or has discretionary authority over public assets, if: within the preceding 20 years, the person was convicted of a felony involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or a breach of the public trust; and the conviction was related to the person’s official capacity while holding any elective office or position of employment in local, state or federal government.”

The proposed amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, and cosponsored by Sen. Glenn Anderson, DWestland, Sen. Irma Clark-Coleman, DDetroit, Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Marion Twp., and Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, would add Section 8 to Article XI of the Michigan State Constitution. It was passed by a 35-to-0 vote June 10 in the state Senate and a 91-to-13 vote in the state House of Representatives June 17. Some lawmakers have said the amendment is aimed at barring politicians, such as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is serving a prison term for violating probation from a felony conviction on obstruction-of-justice charges in 2008.

Article XI of the Constitution deals with public officer and employment, with the amendment being added on to the seven current sections. Article XI does not currently specify public officers and employees, stating only in Section 7 that “The house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeaching civil officers for corrupt conduct in office or for crimes or misdemeanors, but a majority of the members elected thereto and serving therein shall be necessary to direct an impeachment,” with the house of representatives electing three of its members to prosecute any possible impeachment proceedings.

In the case of impeachment hearing, the senate will try the party involved after the final adjournment of the state legislature. Two-thirds of the current senators must vote to impeach someone.

The new amendment, If passed in November, would go into effect starting Dec. 18, 2010, or 45 days following the election, according to Article 12, Section 1 of the state constitution, said Ken Silfven, spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State office.

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