Change term limits, require financial reports

LANSING — A bipartisan coalition of business, labor and political leaders on Tuesday announced a ballot campaign to change Michigan’s legislative term limits, shortening them to 12 years from 14, but letting lawmakers sit all time in one room.

The proposed constitutional amendment would also require state elected officials to publicly disclose their personal financial information, as members of Congress must do.

A constitutional provision – approved by voters in 1992 – allows lawmakers to serve no more than 14 years, including three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate. The initiative would allow them to serve 12 years – six two-year terms in the House, three four-year terms in the Senate or a combination.

Organizers said it would allow new lawmakers, especially in the House, to focus on their jobs instead of seeking to run for the Senate or find work outside the legislature.

Backers include former Michigan Chamber of Commerce CEO Rich Studley, former Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and former Republican President of the House, Jase Bolger.

Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, the voting committee behind the effort, needs about 425,000 valid voter signatures by July 11 to participate in the November ballot.

“I don’t think the state is served well by a House of Representatives that is really a big revolving door today,” Duggan said, saying first-term members know that when they take office, they need to find their next job. “soon.”

Bolger said the proposal “would not only maintain term limits, but strengthen and improve term limits.” Allowing lawmakers to spend 12 years in a chamber, he said, would help them gain expertise and, more importantly, “raise the voices of their constituents” in the state bureaucracy.

Patrick Anderson, an economist who authored the 1992 term limit ballot initiative, said the measure would “undermine” the constitution.

“Let me make the calculations transparent: this proposal would double the time a person could sit in the House of Representatives,” he said. “We would reopen the door that we slammed in 1992 and see committee chairs serve a decade again.”

Fifteen states have legislative limits. Michigan is among six with lifetime restrictions. Of these, California and Oklahoma last 12 years but allow lawmakers to serve everything in one chamber.

The initiative would also require state legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general to file annual financial disclosure reports.

Attempts to impose such reports have stalled for years in the Legislative Assembly, even though Michigan is among only two states where lawmakers pass and reject laws without the public knowing about their finances. personal.

Public officials should disclose their assets; Income; real estate and investment transactions; Liabilities; involvement in businesses, unions, non-profit groups or educational institutions; agreements related to future employment; gifts; travel payments and reimbursements; and charitable donations made by others in lieu of fees.

“The standards are very close to what the congressional delegation is already required to report,” Gaffney said. “They’re not onerous. But they’re fair and they’re fair and I think they’re going to be important to the people of Michigan.”

Organizers did not say whether any individuals or groups have pledged to fund a signature-raising campaign that will cost millions of dollars. Studley said Democrat,

Republican, business and labor leaders will work together to raise funds.

“We are determined to succeed,” he said.

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Marianne R. Winn