In Your NeighborhoodState Capitol


Michigan legislature puts term limits and financial disclosure on the November ballot

Michigan Legislature
Posted at 4:44 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 16:44:22-04

LANSING, Mich. — Tuesday, the Michigan House and Senate moved to put new term limits and financial disclosure rules for state legislators on the November ballot.

Reactions to the initiative have been mixed.

"I am so happy about this," said state Rep. David LaGrand, a Grand Rapids Democrat who has been working for five years to make sure Michigan politicians disclose their personal finances. "If they have a conflict of interest, if they're working in Lansing for their own interests, the voters can see that and can call them out on it."

Kurt O'Keefe a member of the Term Limits Defense Fund Committee, was a lot less enthusiastic.

"Never have so few put so much lipstick on such a pig," he said. "They put the transparency part in trying to find out what voters would be attracted to."

This proposal would do two things. It would require legislators to disclose their private finances to the public.

"That's going to require that, if legislators get gifts, they have to report them," said LaGrand. "They have to report debt, because, you know what, if General Motors gave someone a billion dollar loan at 0 percent interest, it'd be nice to know that, right?"

And it would allow lawmakers to serve 12 years overall in Lansing rather than 14 years.

However this one is tricky. It may seem that a move from 14 years to 12 is less, but it's more complicated than that.

Before lawmakers were able to serve six total years in the House and eight total years in the Senate. If they did both, that would total 14 years, though that's rare.

The changes proposed in the ballot initiative would enable those lawmakers to spend an entire 12 years in either the House or Senate.

O'Keefe said less turn over would be a bad move, that it would mean less opportunity for diversity.

"The longer people are there, the more into the beltway they are," he said, "the more they vote for bigger government, higher taxes, the more they're relate to the bureaucrats and lobbyists."

LaGrand said he isn't tied to the issue but, "The idea there is the advantage of expertise would stay. So the chambers would get a little more stability and a little less turnover."

The initiative received bipartisan but non unanimous support in the legislature.

It will be up to November voters to decide if transparency and term limits will change in Michigan.

"The voters are going to get to decide to make this happen in November and I’m pretty confident they will," LaGrand said.

"Once the voter understands what it is they will vote against," O'Keefe said.

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