The governor’s race is on the top of the ticket but on the back of the ballot in 2022, there are three ballot proposals. Over the next week, 9&10 News will dive deep into each of the proposals and logically we start with Proposal One, term limits and financial disclosure.
“Michigan’s term limits are the most restrictive in the country at three two-year terms and two four-year terms,” said Rep. Jack O’Malley, “They were really a 30-year failed experiment. I’m not against term limits but we need to get more flexibility there.”
Thirty years ago, Michigan voters put term limits on the state leaders. Lawmakers get three terms in the House over six years and two terms in the Senate over eight years for a total of 14 possible years.
Prop One will shift that, shorten the total count to 12 but allow lawmakers to serve all 12 in one chamber, if desired. The idea is backed by former state leaders on both sides of the aisle.
“I would have benefited from more time certainly,” said former Speaker of the House Jace Bolger, “Having a more experience to understand state government better.
Bolger had only served four years before being elected Speaker.
“We’ve seen shorter-term leadership, which means you don’t have the long term vision,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, who is term limited after serving the full 14 years, “We’ve seen staffing turnover, which means when it comes time for good advice and support, it’s not there as much.”
“The House will get more benefit from it. I don’t know how the Senate fares,” said Rep. John Roth, “This might give us more institutional knowledge.”
Supporters see this as a compromise. Lawmakers in general, want more time to get comfortable in the job and lead. The people don’t want career politicians.
“Voters in general, when you’ve polled them over the last 20 years, they like term limits,” said Adrian Hemond democratic strategist, “They don’t want to lengthen term limits or get rid of term limits.”
So why make the change and vote yes? Because there are two halves to this prop, term limits and financial disclosure.
“The folks that are trying to pass this thing know the latter of those two things makes the first one more palatable,” said Hemond.
Tie a controversial idea to a widely accepted one. Financial disclosure for all lawmakers and the executive branch. Michigan is one of two states that don’t mandate it.
“Michigan ranks last in transparency for public officials. We do that for federal officials. They already do have to fill out forms so this essentially just says, ‘why don’t we have our state officials match our federal officials?’” said John Sellek, Republican strategist, “I think the public says I like that because it tells me a little bit about conflict of interest or who has what, who are these people? Let’s know a little bit more.”
Tax returns, income sources and assets would be made public, in exchange for some shifting of term structure. The voter decides the rules politicians play by, instead of the politician themselves.
“This time around they seem to have struck gold, for a couple of reasons,” said Sellek, “One is the timing. So much other wildness going on in the world, even if you just mention the abortion issue, it’s a real big distraction from other things like this.”