Will Lawmakers Move to Repeal Term Limits After the November Elections?

Date: October 26, 2016 Last Edit: October 31, 2016

Hearings to be Held During Lame Duck on Michigan Term Limits Law

After more than twenty years of experience with term limits,
lawmakers in Lansing are calling on voters to change Michigan’s term limits
law, or repeal the law in its entirety. Hearings are already being planned for
the November “Lame Duck” legislature this year and it is possible that the
legislature could put a proposal on the ballot in early 2017 to change or
eliminate them. NFIB is currently asking members what they think about this
effort. Here is the survey question:

Background In 1992 Michigan voters passed a
ballot proposal that amended Michigan’s constitution to impose term limits on
state legislative offices.  As a result,
Michigan House members were limited to serving no more than three two-year
terms (six years total) and Michigan Senate members were limited to no more
than two four-year terms (eight years total). In addition, the
office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney
general were also limited to not more than two four-year terms (eight years
total). After more than twenty years of experience with term limits, some are
calling on voters to change Michigan’s term limits law, or repeal the law in
its entirety. Hearings are already being planned for the November “Lame Duck”
legislature this year and it is possible that the legislature could put a
proposal on the ballot in early 2017 to change or eliminate them.

Supporters of changing or eliminating Michigan’s term limits
law claim that term limits have caused a lack of institutional memory on many
important issues that the state must consider. 
They point out that, before term limits, many legislators gained years
of experience and insight into many complicated issue areas such as tax policy,
health care, labor and criminal law. 
They further argue that this expertise has been lost and that, as a
result, many term-limited lawmakers now rely more on “special interest”
lobbyists with expertise on these issues. Supporters of changing or eliminating
Michigan’s term limits also believe that they have empowered state department
bureaucrats who continue to stay in government agencies long after lawmakers
are gone. They also say that the current terms of office are too short for
lawmakers to accomplish any meaningful public policy.  At a minimum, they suggest Michigan’s term
limits law should be changed to allow for a greater number of terms for state
House and Senate office holders.

Opponents of changing or eliminating Michigan’s term limits
law believe that many of the arguments made against term limits are precisely
the reasons why it is working. Opponents of changing Michigan’s term limits law
contend that ending the dynasty of powerful committee chairs and leaders has
allowed more focus on the business of the people rather than political machine
maneuvering.  They claim that term limits
actually diminish the power of “special interest” lobbyists because the
turnover in office makes it less likely that they can wield long term influence
over any one lawmaker.  Opponents of
changing Michigan’s term limits law believe that term limits have ended the
“career politician” era and replaced it with men and women who are more in
touch with the electorate. They point out that many of the important policy
changes in the last twenty years would not have occurred without term limits as
most lawmakers would have been more concerned with getting continuously
reelected.

1.     
Do you believe that Michigan’s Term Limits Law
is working as intended?

2.     
Should Michigan’s Term Limits Law be repealed?

3.     
Should Michigan’s Term Limits Law be changed to
lengthen the terms of office for House members?

4.     
Should Michigan’s Term Limits Law be changed to
lengthen the terms of office for Senate members?

 

Related Content: Small Business News | Elections | Michigan

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