Michigan Democrats, Republicans launch drive to change term limit law

A bipartisan coalition of business, labor and political leaders on Tuesday announced a ballot drive to amend Michigan's legislative term limits, shortening them to 12 years from 14, but letting lawmakers serve the entire time in one chamber.

Years ago, it was not unusual for some lawmakers to serve 20 to 30 years under the Lansing dome but in 1992, Michigan voters said enough and voted for term limits. It allowed legislators serve no more than 14 years, including three two-year House terms and two four-year Senate terms.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is part of a bi-partisan business labor coalition that includes the former CEO of the Michigan chamber of commerce Rich Studley, the former president of the state AFLCIO Mark Gafney, and the former GOP speaker of the Michigan House, Jase Bolger,

Even though a vast majority of voters still support the law, Duggan argues the term-limits don't help but it has nothing to do with spending too much time in office. Instead, he said lawmakers come in the legislative door and immediately plot for their next job.

"I do not think the state is being served well by the House of Representatives that is by and large what's a large revolving door today," Duggan said. "We are backing what the people support, and we're reducing the term from 14 years to 12 years."

If the petition drive is successful and voters say yes, lawmakers would then have the option to stay in the House or Senate for 12 consecutive years.

Former Speaker Bolger says this eliminates what the citizens don't want - career politicians.

"Legislators know they are not gong to be there for a career, they're going to be there for a short term," Bolger said.

But one of the authors of the term limit law, Patrick Anderson says, "I will not support it. It doesn't reduce anybody's power."

Studley contends term limit voters will favor this updating of the law.

"The Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who continue to support term limits, we think, will know pretty early that this is about taking the concept in place for 30 years and revising and updating it, as some my colleagues have said. It is not a repeal.

Duggan and others need over 400,000 petition signatures to put this on the ballot in november with the launch coming after March 23rd.