Michigan to vote on state legislative term limit reforms in November

Andrew Roth

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The Michigan Capitol building.Andrew Roth

Michigan voters will have the opportunity in November to vote to overhaul term limits placed on state legislators.

Under the proposed reforms, lawmakers would be able to serve a total of 12 years in Lansing, down from the current 14-year term limit, but would be allowed to serve all 12 years in one chamber. Currently, legislators are limited to six years in the Michigan House of Representatives and eight years in the Michigan Senate.

Both chambers of the Legislature garnered the two-thirds majority needed to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot in Michigan.

There was no discussion or debate before the unscheduled votes in either chamber.

More than a dozen other petition initiatives are collecting signatures to try and make it onto the November ballot. The term limits proposal bypassed the signature requirements by having the Legislature send the House Resolution, introduced by House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, to voters.

The plan put forward by the Legislature made significant changes to sections of the original proposal that was gathering signatures, weakening financial disclosure requirements.

Michigan currently is one of two states that does not require financial disclosures from lawmakers. Under the ballot proposal, legislators, as well as the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state, would be required to file annual financial disclosures beginning April 15, 2024.

But the version passed by state lawmakers Tuesday significantly waters down the originally proposed requirements for themselves.

Rather than tying the disclosures to the policy for members of Congress, the Legislature would instead get to shape the elements of the disclosures themselves.

A requirement that lawmakers report “travel payments and reimbursements” was also altered to require they only report “travel payments and reimbursements received and required to be reported by a lobbyist or lobbyist agency as prescribed by state law,” potentially creating a loophole for entities that are not registered lobbyists.

Republican consultant Fred Wszolek criticized the weakened financial disclosure requirements on Twitter.

“Watering down the financial, gift and travel disclosures will doom the constitutional amendment proposed today,” Wszolek said.

Michigan residents previously voted in 1992 to place the term limits on legislators. Critics of the term limits argue that they have ensured that lobbyists have more institutional knowledge than lawmakers themselves, who are often forced out of the chamber by the time they become fully familiar with the legislative process.

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Andrew Roth is a freelance reporter and photojournalist in Michigan covering politics, technology, culture and their intersection. Andrew has had bylines in news outlets like the Detroit News, Michigan Advance and Flint Beat. He was named one of the best political reporters in Michigan by the Washington Post and his work has been cited by outlets like Bloomberg, Endgadget, Daily Kos and others. You can follow him on Twitter at @RothTheReporter and @RothsReviews, and on Instagram at @RothTheReporter.

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