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Michigan's Proposal 1 passes, bringing changes to Legislative term limits

Michigan voters weighed in on the future of term limits in the state, passing Proposal 1 overwhelmingly in Tuesday's election.


Voters approved a state constitutional amendment which would require legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general to file personal financial reports annually.

“Michigan was one of the only two states in the nation that didn't require statewide elected officials to file financial disclosures,” said Alexis Wiley, senior advisor to the Proposal One campaign.

The amendment also changes how term limits are implemented.

When term limits passed in 1992, legislators were limited to three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate.

Research revealed many of the expected benefits were not realized.

One of the expected benefits was that what supporters called "citizen legislators" would be more interested in benefitting Michigan rather than concentrating on being a career politician. What actually happened is legislators often started looking at how to get the next political position since term limits would soon force them out.

Under the newly passed amendment, people elected would be limited to 12 years of total service, but that entire time could be spent in one chamber. So a Representative could serve six terms in the House. Someone in the Senate could serve three terms. The reasoning was that a legislator could get more experience in the same position.

“You'll have people who will actually understand the work they're doing to a greater degree than they do now, because they actually have the time to learn,” Wiley said.

Overall, the amendment shortens the number of years someone can spend in the legislature from 14 years to 12 years total.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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