Advance Notice: Briefs

Two more ex-lawmakers join suit to dump term limits

By: - December 12, 2019 5:13 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

A lawsuit challenging voter-approved term limit laws in Michigan gained two more plaintiffs on Wednesday. 

Mark Meadows

Former state Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake Twp.) and former state Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing) have added their names to a bipartisan lawsuit that cites Michigan’s strict term limits violate the U.S Constitution.

Lawmakers are limited to three, two-year terms in the House and two, four-year terms in the Senate. Top executive officeholders — the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general — also are termed out after two, four-year terms.

Sixty percent of Michigan voters approved of term limits in 1992.

The lawsuit says the inability of the state to retain qualified and experienced lawmakers hurts progress in Michigan. 

The former legislators are seeking a permanent injunction on term limits in the Legislature, allowing any qualified candidate to run for office. The executive and judicial branches would see no change.

Nessel: If term limits stay, Lame Duck must go

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 20, naming Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as the defendant in her official capacity. Meadows and Kowall join eight other former lawmakers as plaintiffs in the lawsuit

Meadows served as a member of the state House from 2007 to 2012, and according to the lawsuit, would like to run for reelection.

Mike Kowall

Kowall served on the state Senate from 2011 to 2018, in addition to serving as a state representative from 1999 to 2002. The lawsuit states that Kowall  also wants to run for Senate again.

One of the attorneys on the case, former state Solicitor General John Bursch, said in a press conference the day the suit was filed, “There is no other system” in the United States like Michigan term limit laws.

“When you take the most experienced people out of  government, it shifts the balance of power to career bureaucrats and lobbyists and that’s not where the power is supposed to reside when it comes to the legislative branches,” Bursch said.

Other former lawmakers named in the case were at the press conference and spoke about the struggle to build relationships and partnerships necessary to create positive change within the constraints of current term limits.

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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols is a former Michigan Advance intern. She is a Michigan State University graduate who has reported for several publications, including MLive and Michigan State University’s award-winning student paper, the State News, where she covered the many tendrils of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.