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Business, labor, bipartisan coalition wants to overhaul term limits

The Michigan capitol building against a blue and cloudy sky.
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing.

A bipartisan coalition is getting behind a petition campaign to overhaul the state’s term limits amendment. The effort will begin collecting signatures in the spring with the goal of putting a question on the 2022 ballot.

The proposal would reduce the maximum amount of time lawmakers can serve from 14 years to 12 years, but it would allow state representatives to serve the entirety of their careers in the House.

“This is not about the political left or the political right, and it’s not about elected officials, but about the people of Michigan," said Jace Bolger, a Republican who served as House Speaker from 2011 to 2014. “The people deserve to know about where their elected officials stand. And they deserve the transparency to ensure any conflicts of interest are avoided.”

Backers of the plan say that would allow House members to gain experience and build relationships without violating the intent of the term limits amendment.

“Now is a good time to step back and look at the impact of term limits and see how we can work together to make state government better,” said Richard Studley, who recently retired as the CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He supported term limits when the amendment was adopted 30 years ago.

The proposal would also enact new financial disclosure requirements for state elected officials. That would include debts, investments and other sources of income.

“It’s common sense to have elected officials report their financial conditions,” said retired Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney. “It’s common sense for the voters to know this kind of information from their elected officials.”

The next step is for the Voters for Transparency and Term Limits campaign to have its petition form approved by a state elections board. That is not required, but it can help inoculate the effort from legal challenges.

The campaign plans to start collecting signatures in early spring with the hope of getting the question on the 2022 statewide ballot.

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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