Michigan Ballot Drive Would Change Legislative Term Limits

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A bipartisan coalition of business, labor and political leaders on Tuesday announced a ballot drive to amend Michigan’s legislative term limits, shortening them to 12 years from 14 but letting lawmakers serve the entire time in one chamber.

The proposed constitutional amendment also would require state elected officials to publicly disclose their personal financial information, like members of Congress must do.

A constitutional provision — approved by voters in 1992 — lets legislators serve no more than 14 years, including three two-year House terms and two four-year Senate terms. Organizers of the initiative said it would enable new lawmakers, particularly in the House, to focus on their job instead of looking to run for the Senate or find work outside the Legislature.

Backers include former Michigan Chamber of Commerce CEO Rich Studley, ex-Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Republican former House Speaker Jase Bolger.

Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, the ballot committee behind the effort, needs roughly 425,000 valid voter signatures by July 11 to qualify for the November ballot.

“I do not think the state is being served at all well by a House of Representatives that really is one large revolving door today,” Duggan said, saying first-term members know that when they take office, they have to find their next job “pretty soon.”

Bolger said the proposal “would not just keep term limits but strengthen and improve term limits.” Allowing legislators to spend 12 years in one chamber, he said, would help them gain expertise and, more importantly, “elevate their constituents’ voices” in the state bureaucracy.

Fifteen states have legislative term limits. Michigan is among six with lifetime restrictions. Of those, California and Oklahoma’s are 12 years, but allow lawmakers to serve all of it in one chamber.