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Originally published Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 12:37 PM

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Health care, gambling proposals don't make ballot

Michigan opponents of the federal health care overhaul said Tuesday they will keep fighting the plan, even though their grass-roots bid to allow voters to weigh in on the issue has failed.

Associated Press Writer

LANSING, Mich. —

Michigan opponents of the federal health care overhaul said Tuesday they will keep fighting the plan, even though their grass-roots bid to allow voters to weigh in on the issue has failed.

The campaign to ask Michigan voters if they wanted the option to not participate in the health care reform passed by Congress in March was one of several that failed to turn in enough signatures to make the statewide November ballot. The group sponsoring the effort collected roughly 150,000 signatures, well short of the more than 380,000 needed by a late Monday deadline to make the ballot.

"It's just one step in the process," said Wendy Day, one organizer of the group called Michigan Citizens for Healthcare Freedom.

Leaders of the campaign said they could regroup to try to make the 2012 ballot or push for more immediate action from the Michigan Legislature. Lawmakers have until early September to place other proposals on the ballot.

Two separate campaigns that would have allowed voters to decide whether to expand gambling in Michigan also failed to gather enough signatures to make the ballot. One would have allowed the opening of casinos in Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Muskegon, Port Huron and at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The other would have allowed some casino gaming at the state's horseracing tracks.

Other citizen-driven proposals to change the state constitution or enact new laws that fizzled this year included campaigns to roll back auto insurance rates and restrict certain forms of mining.

The failure of the grass-roots efforts leaves only two proposals on the November ballot, pending further action by the Michigan Legislature.

Voters will decide whether to hold a convention to rewrite Michigan's constitution, a proposal that is automatically placed on the statewide ballot every 16 years.

The other proposal, placed on the ballot by the state Legislature, would ban public officials convicted of felonies related to their jobs from holding office for 20 years. It comes less than two years after Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick resigned as part of pleas in two criminal cases after he lied on the witness stand about an affair with his top aide. He's now in prison on a probation violation.

Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said they haven't given up on proposals that would allow Michigan residents to opt out of the federal health care plan. They said they will introduce legislation that mirrors the language of the failed petition drive.

Those bills might be able to pass the Republican-led Senate, but they'd face long odds of passing the Democratic-run House or getting the approval of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

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