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Few lawmakers lining up behind part-time legislature

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League
Michigan Legislature at the State Capitol building.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is getting pushback for his big announcement earlier this week. Calley says he’ll push for a ballot proposal that would make Michigan’s legislature part-time.

Calley and other advocates say it’ll help clean up Michigan’s government. They argue it would cut down on taxpayer expenses and lawmakers should have to live and work at home under the laws they pass.

But even term-limited lawmakers, with no dog in the fight are arguing against the proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof is on the tail end of his term. He’s concerned it would increase the governor’s power and weaken the legislature.


“I think people understand that there are three legs and they work together,” he said. “And lessening the people’s voice is probably not a good idea.”

Meekhof has spoken out against term limits in the past. He said if combined with a part-time legislature, Lansing would be full of inexperienced legislators.  

“Are we spending the taxpayer monies the most efficient way possible? That takes experience,” he said. “And there’s not a whole lot of other jobs where you actually want to look for the least amount of experience.”

Meekhof said if there is a move to a part-time legislature, he would recommend getting rid of limits.

Lawmakers on the other side of the aisle are also skeptical.

Minority House Leader Sam Singh says he’s open to a thoughtful discussion about revamping the legislature. But he sees Calley’s announcement as political posturing as he considers a run for governor.

Singh said, “Very clear to me that with his poll numbers and the governor’s poll numbers so low, that he really had to resort to a gimmick to try to regain some recognition in the state.”

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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