Advance Notice: Briefs

Legislature OKs term limits, financial disclosure measure to go on the November ballot

By: - May 10, 2022 12:40 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

The Michigan House and Senate on Tuesday voted to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would both revamp the state’s legislative term limits law while also requiring annual financial disclosures from legislators and state officers.

The state’s current system of term limits — allowing three two-year House terms and two four-year Senate terms – was approved by voters in 1992, limiting legislators to a maximum of 14 years. 

The amendment — which passed 76-28 in the House and 26-6 in the Senate — would reduce that down to 12 total years. But it allow for additional terms in either chamber:: six, two-year House terms, three, four-year Senate terms or a combination of the two.

The amendment’s supporters, which includes business, good government and labor groups, claim it would allow new lawmakers to focus on the job at hand instead of immediately looking to run for higher office or try and find employment outside the Legislature. 

Opponents, meanwhile, say the measure would effectively defeat the point of term limits by doubling the number of terms a House member could serve, while adding a third four-year term for senators.

The measure passed Tuesday would also require lawmakers and state officers — including the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general — to begin filing annual financial disclosure reports in 2024. 

Those reports would include assets and sources of both earned and unearned income, financial liabilities and positions currently held with any organization, corporation, firm, partnership, or other business. They would also have to report any gifts received from a lobbyist, including travel payments and reimbursements, as well as charitable donations made by others in lieu of honoraria.

Michigan is one of just two states where legislators are not required to make such disclosures. 

After the House vote, state Rep. Alex Garza (D-Taylor) said that subjecting elected officials to financial disclosure requirements was long overdue.

“Michiganders need to be able to know whether their representatives come to Lansing to serve their constituents or just enrich themselves,” said Garza. “I was proud to cast my vote in favor of this proposal, and I look forward to the voters having their say in November.”

Tuesday’s votes came a day after a coalition of business, labor and political leaders urged lawmakers to adopt the measure. Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, which includes Democratic Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and former Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger, says they can now avoid the process of collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures and instead focus on getting the measure passed by voters in November.

Of the 15 states that have legislative term limits, Michigan is one of just six that have lifetime restrictions. 

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.