Business, labor, bipartisan coalition wants to overhaul term limits

The proposal would reduce the total time legislators can serve to 12 years. But House members could serve that entire time in the state House.

A bipartisan coalition is getting behind a petition campaign to overhaul the state’s term limits amendment. The effort will begin collecting signatures in the spring to put a question on the 2022 ballot.

The proposal would reduce the total time legislators can serve to 12 years. But House members could serve that entire time in the state House. State government officials would also be required to disclose their finances.

“This is not about the political left or the political right, and it’s not about elected officials, but about the people of Michigan,” said Jase Bolger, a Republican who served as House Speaker from 2011 to 2014. “The people deserve to know about where their elected officials stand. And they deserve the transparency to ensure any conflicts of interest are avoided.”

“Now is a good time to step back and look at the impact of term limits and see how we can work together to make state government better.” — Richard Studley, former CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Backers of the plan say that would allow House members to gain experience and build relationships without violating the intent of the term limits amendment.

“Now is a good time to step back and look at the impact of term limits and see how we can work together to make state government better,” said Richard Studley, who recently retired as the CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He supported term limits when the amendment was adopted 30 years ago.

The proposal would also enact new financial disclosure requirements for state elected officials. That would include debts, investments and other sources of income.

“It’s common sense to have elected officials report their financial conditions,” said retired Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney. “It’s common sense for the voters to know this kind of information from their elected officials.”

The next step is for the Voters for Transparency and Term Limits campaign to have its petition form approved by a state elections board. That is not required, but it can help inoculate the effort from legal challenges.

The campaign plans to start collecting signatures in early spring to get the question on the 2022 statewide ballot.

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