Initiative Would Change Term Limits, Require Financial Disclosure
The ballot initiative has bipartisan support
A proposed amendment to Michigan’s Constitution would make changes to current term limits and require state-level elected officials to disclose personal financial information as is required in Congress.
Currently, Michigan’s legislators may serve a maximum of 14 years, but must split that time between the State’s House and Senate. This ballot initiative proposes reducing the maximum to 12 years but allowing the entire tenure to be served in one chamber.
The ballot committee behind the effort, Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, is supported by a bipartisan coalition of business, labor and political leaders. This includes former Michigan Chamber of Commerce CEO Rich Studley, ex-Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Republican former House Speaker Jase Bolger.
They argue this would give lawmakers time to focus on their current roles rather than thinking about their next position. “I do not think the state is being served at all well by a House of Representatives that really is one large revolving door today,” Duggan said, because first-term members know they have to find their next job “pretty soon” after taking office.
In 1992, a similar ballot initiative authored by economist Patrick Anderson created the term limits that exist today. He says this change would be a negative one. “Let me make the math transparent: This proposal would double the time a person could serve in the House of Representatives,” he said. “We would reopen the door we slammed shut in 1992, and once again see committee chairs serve a decade.”
While attempts at requiring financial disclosure have faltered in Michigan’s legislature for years, this initiative would make that a reality should it succeed. It would require state legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general to file annual reports disclosing things like assets, liabilities, agreements related to future employment and involvement in businesses. Michigan is one of only two states that does not require this financial transparency.
“The standards are very close to what the congressional delegation already has to report,” Gaffney said. “They’re not onerous. But they’re fair and they’re just and I think they’re going to be important for the people of the state of Michigan.”
In order to get the issue on the ballot for voters to decide in November, the ballot committee will need to gather roughly 450,000 voter signatures by July 11.