Legislature Sends Term Limits/Financial Disclosure Changes to November Ballot

After years of speculation and talk about the topic, term limits will be on the ballot in November.

Thirty years ago, the voters chose to put term limits on the legislature and top state officers. This November the topic will be to revise those rules, as well as add financial disclosure policies.

The idea to change the term limits in Michigan and add stricter financial disclosure policies was being pushed by a bi-partisan group that was looking to get enough petition signatures to get it on the ballot.

This week, the legislature took that out of their hands. They voted in both chambers to add it to the ballot themselves.

“Term limits are something the people voted on,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City, “I’ll let them decide if they want to change.”

Right now, legislators can serve for 14 years, a max of six in the House and eight in the Senate. The new proposal on the November ballot will cut that to 12 total years but all can be served in one chamber, if desired.

“We are shrinking that up and bringing it down to 12 years and I have big concerns,” said Sen. Curt VanderWall, “That it’s going to cause issues.”

Not many voted ‘no’ but those that did say term limits cap experience and turnover in the legislature slows progress.

“We voted to put this on the ballot,” said Schmidt, “If the people do not think that this is the right idea, they can vote it down.”

Others who voted against just didn’t like the way it was handled.

“For me, it’s more of a process issue,” said Rep. John Damoose, “I think it sends a bad signal that we’re looking to extend our own careers here.”

The citizen petition was getting there, then lawmakers rushed to pass their resolution with no committee discussion.

“This is a serious issue and we haven’t had any real discussion on what the proper term limits are,” said Damoose, “I’d like to hear from more people.”

The plan will also force legislators to disclose their tax returns and finances to increase transparency. The two options tied together on one proposal in November.

“Term limits should have always been every election,” said Schmidt, “You always have the opportunity to vote someone in or vote someone out.”

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