LANSING, Mich. -- A recent University of Michigan graduate who aspires to work in politics is single-handedly launching a ballot petition drive to allow automakers to sell new vehicles directly to Michigan consumers.
Mick Yuille, 22, knows he has a hurdle to climb: He has until June 1 to collect more than 252,000 signatures in order to put his proposal before the Michigan legislature, or to voters in November.
He said that if he throws enough enthusiasm behind the project, he thinks he could have a shot.
Yuille formed a ballot committee, Eliminate (i), and did not file a waiver with the state saying he plans to raise or spend less than $1,000, which exempts him from some campaign finance filings. That doesn't mean he expects to have that much money, he said, adding that he wanted to keep all options available. He said he will have to depend on donations and is still working on a final plan for how he’ll gather signatures.
The Board of State Canvassers on Thursday signed off on the proposal’s form, which starts the signature-collecting process. If successful, the petition would go to the legislature. If it isn’t adopted, it would be placed on the November ballot.
Yuille’s proposal would repeal a section in a 1981 state law that prohibits automakers from selling new vehicles other than through franchised dealers; he called it the “anti-Tesla provision.”
Silicon Valley-based electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. has challenged Michigan’s law, arguing it prevents the company from doing business in the state because Tesla doesn’t sell its vehicles through dealerships.
In the fall of 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that tightened up that provision by striking the word “its” -- a reference to automakers’ own franchised dealerships -- to clarify that auto manufacturers can’t directly sell cars to consumers at all.
“This law was passed so that the dealers could have their sales model protected from competition,” Yuille said.
Yuille graduated in December with a degree in political science. He will begin serving this summer with City Year Detroit, an AmeriCorps service program that places groups of volunteers in schools to work directly with students.
He said he would like to run for office someday, and counts the petition drive as good campaign experience.