Sep 20, 2022 - Politics

How Prop 1 would change term limits

The Michigan Senate
The Michigan Senate on June 15, 2022. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

A ballot proposal supported by Mayor Mike Duggan aims to increase financial transparency among elected officials and change Michigan's term limits.

What's happening: Voters will decide how long lawmakers are able to serve in each chamber on the Nov. 8 ballot.

  • Prop 1 would reduce the total time a politician can serve in the legislature from 14 to 12 years, while allowing lawmakers the option of serving those 12 years in any combination of the state House or Senate. Representatives now have a six-year term limit.
  • The proposal would also require state lawmakers to file a financial disclosure form on the Secretary of State's website. Michigan is one of two states — the other being Idaho— that does not require lawmakers to file annual financial disclosure reports.

What they're saying: “You know the day you walk in as a six-year rep that you have to find your next job pretty soon," Duggan told reporters earlier this year when the ballot committee launched its petition effort, adding that prior to term limits, legislators who served multiple decades accumulated enormous power.

  • The bipartisan effort is also backed by business and political leaders including former Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger and former Michigan Chamber of Commerce president Rich Studley.
  • They're among a vocal set of bipartisan politicos who say lawmakers coming and going as a result of Michigan's term limits give voters less power than special interests.

Details: "We want legislators to have more time to learn about state government. We have a situation today where you can be elected to the legislature in November and before you take office in January, you have to decide if you want to run for speaker," Studley tells Axios. "The main consequence we're trying to deal with by revising and strengthening term limits, is to slow the revolving door in the House."

  • Instead of focusing on the job they have, lawmakers see serving in the state House as a stepping stone to the state Senate, Studley says.

Context: The 1992 constitutional amendment set Michigan's current limits: House members can currently serve up to three two-year terms in the chamber. They can also serve up to two four-year terms in the Michigan Senate — a total of 14 years if they do both.

Of note: Absentee ballot applications are now able to be requested. Clerks begin mailing out absentee voter ballots by Sept. 29.

💭 Sam's thought bubble: For those not up to speed with the ongoing debate around Michigan's "strictest in the nation term limits," here's a comprehensive explainer I penned for MLive in March.

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