Michigan Legislature puts term limits proposal on 2022 November ballot

LANSING, MI - MARCH 17: The Michigan State Capital building is seen March 17, 2008 in Lansing, Michigan. Negotiations for a re-vote Michigan primary are continuing between the Democratic National Committee, the Michigan legislature, and the two democratic presidential candidates. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images) (Bill Pugliano, 2008 Getty Images)

The Michigan Legislature voted Tuesday to put before voters a constitutional amendment to revise the state’s legislative term limits law and require state elected officials to disclose their personal financial information.

A constitutional provision approved by voters in 1992 allows legislators to serve no more than 14 years, including three two-year House terms and two four-year Senate terms. The amendment — which the House and Senate passed 76-28 and 26-6, respectively, without debate — would allow them to serve up to 12 years: six two-year House terms, three four-year Senate terms or a combination.

The move came a day after Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, a ballot committee led by a broad coalition of business, labor and political leaders, urged the Legislature to act. It enables the group to focus on persuading voters to adopt the measure rather than having to collect hundreds of thousands of voter signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Supporters of amending term limits say it would enable new lawmakers — particularly in the House, where the speaker has only two or four years of experience before leading the chamber — to focus on their job instead of immediately looking to run for the Senate or find work outside the Legislature. Opponents, who are mobilizing against the effort, say it is being mischaracterized as a proposal to improve term limits when it would double how many terms a House member could serve.

The initiative also would require lawmakers, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general to file annual financial disclosure reports starting in 2024. Attempts to mandate such reports have stalled for years in the Legislature, even though Michigan is among just two states where legislators pass and reject laws without the public knowing about their personal finances.

The officials would have to disclose their assets; income; liabilities; involvement in businesses, unions, nonprofit groups or education institutions; agreements related to future employment; gifts; travel payments and reimbursements that must be reported by lobbyists; and charitable donations made by others in lieu of honoraria.

Fifteen states have legislative term limits. Michigan is among six with lifetime restrictions. Of those, California and Oklahoma’s are 12 years, but allow lawmakers to serve all of it in one chamber.