Updates from May 12 Newsletter

Revisiting Term Limits for State Lawmakers

You might be old enough to remember, back in the early 1990s, the battle in Michigan to set term limits for state lawmakers. That initiative succeeded, limiting state House members to three, two-year terms, and state Senate members to two four-year terms, with a maximum of 14 years total service between the two chambers.

On and off since that time, we’ve heard about intentions to modify or even remove term limits. With actions taken earlier this week in the Legislature, that issue is going before Michigan voters in the November 8 General Election.

This past Tuesday, both the House and the Senate passed House Joint Resolution R, which will send the question of a new constitutional amendment to the voters in November. If passed, the amendment would limit state lawmakers to serving a maximum total of 12 years in the legislature, but that entire time could be spent in one chamber, or split between the two. Proponents for the amendment suggest that this would allow lawmakers to serve more time in one chamber, rather than moving from the House to the Senate or vice versa. That change would permit lawmakers to build up their knowledge of the issues, build up relationships, and potentially spending less time campaigning.

Getting the issue onto the ballot could have been accomplished via the gathering of voters’ signatures. However, that strategy would have required 425,000+ valid signatures by July 11th. The initiative was spearheaded by Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, which had asked the House and Senate to consider putting the question on the ballot themselves via a vote.

If passed, the constitutional amendment would also include a transparency measure. Michigan is currently one of only two states that does not require financial disclosure for lawmakers. If passed, the amendment would require not only lawmakers, but the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state to provide annual financial disclosures, beginning April 15, 2024.

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