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Michigan Turn Michigan Around Amendment (2008)

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The Turn Michigan Around Amendment did not appear on the November 4, 2008 statewide ballot in Michigan as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would have limited state legislative sessions to 100 days, cut legislator salaries by $40,000, eliminated state-paid pensions and lifetime medical coverage, instituted fines of $400 per day for legislators' absences, and eliminated legislative term limits.

A second Michigan initiative—Part-Time Legislature Amendment—would also have turned Michigan's full-time legislature into a part-time one. However, that initiative would not have ended term limits. If both amendments were to be approved by voters, the amendment receiving the most votes would have been enacted.


Details of the amendment

The amendment, if passed, would have:

  • Limited regular legislative sessions to 100 days, completing work by May 31.
  • Reduced legislature pay by at least half.
  • Eliminated lifetime benefits (pension and health care) for legislators.
  • Required absent legislatures to forfeit pay.
  • Allowed emergency session (maximum 15 days) to be called by a two-thirds vote of both houses. There would have been no additional pay for special sessions.

Supporters

The Committee to Turn Michigan Around, a group created by the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Association of Greater Kalamazoo, sponsored this amendment.

"We think it is entirely reasonable to restructure Michigan’s Legislature into a part-time body. It works just fine for 46 other states in the country," said Peter Tanz, the Chamber's Public Policy chairman. "We believe fundamental change is required to make our elected leaders more effective, more productive, and more responsive to the citizens and businesses of Michigan. We need legislators to complete their work in a professional and timely manner each year, and we believe this proposal will be a solid step in that direction."[1]

Steward Sandstrom, president and CEO of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce said, "We believe that as the state adopts a part-time legislature, it should also turn away from the failed policy of term limits. Since the adoption of term limits the legislature has suffered from the loss of knowledgeable elected officials that not only had the expertise, but also developed the long-term relationships and trust necessary to get things done."[2]

Henry Woloson, an attorney and business owner for Security Financial Management in Clarkston, Michigan, spearheaded a similar effort for a part-time legislature,[3][4] but he has now endorse the Turn Michigan Around effort and has asked his supporters to work for that amendment. His ballot committee, Reform Michigan Government, joined forces in support of the Turn Michigan Around campaign.[5]

The National Federation of Independent Business, the leading national small business association, donated $10,000 to the Committee to Turn Michigan Around at a recent meeting of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"We are happy to pitch in and do our part to gather the signatures necessary to get this proposal in front of the voters," Charlie Owens, state NFIB director, said. "Nothing less than Michigan’s future is at stake."[6]

Opponents

Supporters of the Part-Time Legislature Amendment preferred their version of the amendment. Some saw this petition as a "trojan horse" that seeks to eliminate legislative term limits while focusing the voters' attention on the part-time legislature aspect.

Status

Proponents called off their petition drive in late May 2008, reporting that they did not have the necessary resources to collect the 380,126 valid signatures required by July 7, 2008.[7]

See also

External links

References