Restrictions on Special Elections Moving Through State Legislature

Rick Pluta/Michigan Public Radio Network (MPRN)

Former State Rep. Todd Courser being sworn under oath before his expulsion hearing in 2015.

State lawmakers who are expelled or resign from their seats in the Legislature shouldn’t get to run for the seats they vacated.

That’s the logic behind a bill making its way through the state Capitol.

The legislation — which failed to win approval during last year’s session — was crafted in the wake of a 2015 sex and cover-up scandal.

Explaining the partial inspiration for the bill, sponsor Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) said, “You learn from things that happen today what legislation needs to be changed for tomorrow.”

After the forced resignation and expulsion of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat for a sex scandal, they ran in the special election for their old seats.

The legislation, which passed a House committee in a 7-2 vote, would still allow lawmakers to run for office in future elections, just not the special election to fill out the remainder of their term.

But critics of the bill say it takes away voter choice.

State Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) is a member of the House Elections and Ethics Committee.

It should be up to the voters to decide,” he said. “We gotta get away from this politicians picking politicians. We gotta get back to voters picking elected representatives.”

But Miller said the legislation doesn’t do that, it’s just a common sense response to these types of situations.

Miller explained, “If we’re expelling a member, which is a high hurdle enough, I think saying that that’s effective for that session is again very reasonable and very logical.”

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

About the Author

Cheyna Roth

Reporter

Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She’s also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.

CRoth@MPRN.org   Follow @Cheyna_R

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