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Michigan court dismisses anti-fracking petition lawsuit again

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A state law giving ballot campaigns 180 days to collect signatures is remaining intact.

This week an appellate court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the 180-day rule. It said neither court held jurisdiction.

The issue came up when the “Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan” took longer than 180 days to gather signatures.

Attorney Matthew Erard, who represents a group who signed the committee’s petition and want their signatures counted, says the rule clashes with provisions on ballot initiatives in the state constitution.

“There is a deliberate effort on the part of the Legislature to restrict the right of citizens initiatives,” Erard said. "Without major financing, it’s almost impossible for a volunteer effort to collect the gargantuan number of signatures required within such a limited time period."

Erard says the group is deciding whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The campaign behind the anti-fracking petition says it will wait to see how the legal fight shakes out before restarting its signature collection. This week’s decision is the latest development in a years-long fight to get the anti-fracking effort before voters since the campaign launched in 2015.

An attorney for the plaintiffs says they are still discussing an appeal to the state Supreme Court.