LANSING – Will a recently published proposal for a vote in Michigan increase or decrease time limits for state lawmakers?
Depends on how you look at it.
Voters for transparency and time limits – a bipartisan petition group seeking to amend the state constitution – rightly notes that this measure reduces the total working time of an official in the legislature from 14 to 12 years.
But supporters of Michigan’s current power-limiting law say the vote will allow lawmakers to work longer in any chamber they elect to. This is also correct.
Under current Michigan power-of-law rules established in 1992, state lawmakers may serve up to six or three two-year terms in the House of Representatives and up to eight or two four-year terms in the Senate. A legislator who has reached the limit of authority in one chamber may participate in the other chamber.
Not everyone is in favor of the current deadlines. In 1992, the law limiting the term was passed by 59 percent of voters, and the remaining 41 percent voted against.
Critics of the current limitation rule argue that the relatively short tenure in the House or Senate does not allow lawmakers to develop real experience before they have to leave. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirky, R-Clarklake, said in 2019 he would like to lift or extend the restrictionsarguing that the election served “Natural boundaries of time.”
The proposal for a constitutional amendment would replace this system and allow the future legislator to work for no more than 12 years in the House of Representatives or the Senate. Those in force in the current legislature will be excluded from this rule, instead they will be allowed to serve the maximum number of years in their respective chambers.
In addition, the proposed voting measure would subject elected state officials – such as the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and lawmakers – to stricter rules on the disclosure of personal financial information.
Proponents of the petition argue that the proposal will strengthen Michigan’s transparency laws and create a standardized ceiling on legislative terms. The overall 12-year limit, they argue, lowers the current 14-year high combined between the two chambers.
“Our belief is that imposing a limit on the number of years is easier, it’s simple and imposes a standard that is generally the same for everyone and (the limit) will be generally lower,” company spokesman Joshua Pew told Bridge Michigan after as on Wednesday the State Council of Convasiers approved the summary of the petition and its format.
But opponents say the petitioners are “misleading” voters, arguing that the measure lowers restrictions on legal conditions. Critics say the proposal would allow members of the House of Representatives and Senate to serve almost twice as long as their current term, thus giving incumbents more time to build political influence and allowing former lawmakers who have been expelled to run for office again.
“We and most Michigan citizens will oppose lifting the current term limit and replacing it with what would allow both current lawmakers to serve twice as long and former lawmakers to return,” said Patrick Anderson, who helped develop the language of current time limits laws. 1992, Bridge reported on Wednesday.
The 14-year-old Michigan general hat is already included the strictest in 15 states with limited legal deadlines, according to the State National Legislative Conference. Those who support the ballot argue that the current rules force lawmakers to do so constantly planning their next concert, which led to a high turnover in the legislaturewhile the petition will allow incumbents to stay longer in one chamber and focus on doing their job.
The proposed 12-year time limits will reflect systems in California and Oklahoma. Mark Gaffney, co-chair of the petitions group, told the Council of Convoys on Wednesday that the goal was not to “lift” the time limit, as Anderson claimed, but to create “better lawmakers”.
“We would have the best lawmakers in this configuration,” Gaffney said Wednesday. “I believe that this proposal keeps the deadlines. In general, it changes the total time that can be served, allows more time in one chamber and changes the formulas, but the actual number of years that legislators can serve is reduced.
But critics say the turnaround is just a time limit – to create more opportunities for beginners.
“Limitations ensure that there is an open space from time to time … so people face these positions at intervals,” said Scott Tillman, national director of limitation of validity in the United States.
The petition will give incumbents more benefits as their time in the chamber grows, making it harder to expose corruption, he argued. The reason lawmakers, staff and advisers oppose former House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who is being investigated on charges of sexual assault and financial misconduct, Tillman said, is that Chatfield is no longer in power.
“No one is covering up their boss’s corruption because their boss will disappear,” Tillman said. “You will still have corruption, but it will be exposed very quickly.”
Kurt O’Keefe, a bankruptcy attorney working with Tillman and Anderson against the petition, told Bridge that the measure would not lead to “better lawmakers,” Gaffney argued.
“You won’t have the best lawmakers,” O’Keefe said. “You will have the same legislators twice as long, mostly in the House of Representatives.”
Tillman and O’Keefe told Bridge that they are both members. “Do not touch the expiration date limit”, The Michigan coalition, which toured the state in support of the time limit rules with the giant pig sculpture in 2019. The coalition has not set up a committee on voting issues, but on Wednesday Tillman suggested he could start fundraising for the campaign against the ballot.
“I’m probably going to go to ‘US Limits’ and ask them if they want to help us raise money,” Tillman said.