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Special elections restrictions sail through legislature

Former state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
images from Courser/Gamrat offices

If you’re expelled or resign from your seat in the legislature, you shouldn’t get to run for the seat you vacated.

That’s the idea behind a bill making progress in Lansing.

The legislation – which failed to make it through last year’s session – was crafted in the wake of a sex and cover-up scandal.

Explaining the partial inspiration for the bill, sponsor Republican Aaron Miller said, “You learn from things that happen today what legislation needs to be changed for tomorrow.”

After the forced resignation and expulsion of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat for a sex scandal, they ran in the special election for their old seats.

The legislation, which passed a House committee in a 7-2 vote would still allow lawmakers to run for office in future elections, just not the special election to fill out the remainder of their term.

But critics of the bill say it takes away voter choice.

Democrat Adam Zemke is a member of the House Elections and Ethics Committee.


“It should be up to the voters to decide,” he said. “We gotta get away from this politicians picking politicians. We gotta get back to voters picking elected representatives.”

But Miller said the legislation doesn’t do that, it’s just a common sense response to these types of situations.

Miller explained, “If we’re expelling a member, which is a high hurdle enough, I think saying that that’s effective for that session is again very reasonable and very logical.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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