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Board of State Canvassers approves ballot language for term limits amendment

The chamber of Michigan's House of Representatives in Lansing. Leaders in the Michigan legislature and Governor Granholm are close to an agreement on the budget.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved ballot wording Friday for a proposed constitutional amendment going before Michigan voters this fall.

The proposal would require lawmakers to file annual financial disclosure reports.

It would also limit them to serving a maximum of 12 years combined in the state House and Senate. They can currently serve a maximum of three full terms in the state House and two in the Senate, which often adds up to 14 years

Josh Pugh is the spokesperson for the group Voters for Transparency and Term Limits. He called the wording a victory for the people of Michigan.

“Really looking forward to, first, an end to the days where Michigan is one of only two states in the country where politicians can keep their finances completely in the dark ... and also, reforming term limits,” Pugh said Friday.

The measure heading to the November ballot is not the one Voters for Transparency and Term Limits began gathering signatures for earlier this year.

Rather than continue its own petition effort, the group chose to support the proposal adopted in the Legislature in May.

The ballot language approved Friday differs slightly from the language in House Joint Resolution R that lawmakers had suggested. For example, Director of Elections Jonathan Brater opted to use the word “replace” rather than “reduce” to describe the change that would happen to Michigan’s term limits if approved.

Though 12 years is less than 14, opponents to the measure are calling into question whether the change would truly be a reduction for many lawmakers.

Keith Allard is with the group No More Time for Career Politicians. He explained lawmakers could spend more time in one chamber under the proposed amendment.

"We're going to tell people this doubles the amount of time that people serve in the House of Representatives. That's it. that's all it takes, and people are furious about that,” Allard said.

Opponents like him have questioned whether the financial transparency piece of the proposal is only there to get the term limits change through.

“Nothing was stopping [lawmakers] that evening from instituting the transparency portion of HJR R immediately. They clearly had the votes,” Allard said of the May vote to put the matter before voters.

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