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Bipartisan group of former lawmakers challenge Michigan term limits

Inside the state Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Cedar Bend
Inside the state Capitol Building, Lansing, MI

A bipartisan group of former state legislators say Michigan’sterm limits are too strict.

The Michigan Constitution limits legislators to three two-year terms in the state House, and two four-year terms in the state Senate.

The eight ex-lawmakers are asking a federal judge to strike down the voter-approved law as unconstitutional. They say it violates the First and 14th Amendments.

John Bursch is their attorney. He says his clients would be satisfied if lawmakers are allowed to serve more time.

“The US Supreme Court has never set a bright line rule for what things do and do not cross the line, but they do say that restrictions on ballot access do require careful scrutiny by the courts,” he says.

The amendment was adopted by Michigan voters in 1992. It is considered the strictest term limits law in the country.

Former state senator Roger Kahn says Michigan’s term limits are also a bad deal for voters.

“If you want to have issues solved well rather than having to solve it and resolve it and resolve it because, oops, you didn’t solve it right, I think you’ve got better chance to achieve that with a more-experienced legislator,” he says.

The ex-lawmakers are not making any specific demands, but say they’d be happy with a settlement that extends term limits so legislators could serve more time before being barred from running again.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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