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Governing Michigan – a part-time job?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
The Michigan State House (file photo)

Michigan voters could see a question on the November ballot this year asking them to make the state Legislature part-time.

TheCommittee to Restore Michigan’s Part-Time Legislaturehas turned in petition language to the state Bureau of Elections.

“This is about actually taking a Legislature that’s been pretty much dominated by lobbyists and getting them back into a citizen-driven ideology,” said the group’s chair, Norman Kammeraad, on the Michigan Public Television program “Off the Record.”

Under the proposal, the Legislature could only meet 60 days a year unless the governor calls an emergency session.

“We’ve reduced their pay down to $35,000 a year,” said Kammeraad. “And they’re going to want to get business done real quick. They’re going to want to actually stick to priorities.”

Opponents of making Michigan’s Legislature part-time say it would be harder for middle- and lower-class candidates to run. They also say it could lead to conflicts of interest because many lawmakers would choose to have other jobs - working for employers who want to influence public policy.

If the group’s petitions are approved, it will have to collect almost 400,000 signatures by early July to put the question to voters in November.