Michigan Term Limits Amendment (2010)

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Michigan Term Limits Amendment did not appear on the August 2010 statewide ballot in Michigan as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The proposed measure would have expanded the number of years lawmakers could serve. Specifically, a single House term would be extended from two years to four years and a Senate term would be extended from four years to six years.[1][2] Additionally the measure would have put the nonpartisan Legislative Service Bureau in charge of redistricting and requires candidates from attorney general and the secretary of state to be elected during the primary election and not during conventions.[3]


According to reports, at the time, Michigan was one of 15 states that have legislative term limits. Term limit laws in Michigan, California and Arkansas were also said to be the strictest; limiting House members to three two-year terms and senators to two four-year terms. In some states term limits reset after a year off once the maximum is reached, however, that was not the case in Michigan. The limit lasts the lifetime of politician.[4]


The measure was proposed by Rep. Mark Meadows. "It's been a tremendous problem. Regardless of where you come from, it's a learning (curve) here. You really only get four years of productivity. It takes about two years to get your feet on the ground and understand how the process works," said Meadows.[2]


Rep. Paul Opsommer agreed that term limits are a problem but doesn't agree that the proposed measure is the way to fix it. "I believe in keeping us accountable, and the best way to do this is the election process...My performance appraisal is every two years," said Opsommer.[2]

Media editorial positions

Editorial boards in support

  • The Detroit News was in support of extending term limits. In an editorial they said, "Michigan is suffering greatly from the poor quality of its political leadership. To fix that, term limits must be either lifted or greatly extended. Voters have proved themselves quite adept in recent elections at using the ballot box to term limit politicians who don't get the job done. They ought to have the right to reward the ones who do. We've urged voters to support efforts in the past to fix this disastrous law. If they don't, they can expect little in the way of improved performance from Lansing."[5]

Term limits study

A 12-year study by Wayne State University released in March 2010 said Michigan lawmakers are less likely to monitor state agencies and more likely to turn to lobbyists as a source of information on state policy issues. Marjorie Sarbaugh-Thompson, professor of political science and author of the Wayne State University study, argued, "We should abolish term limits, and if we don't abolish them, we should lengthen them." According to Sarbaugh-Thompson, interviews with state legislators from 1998 through 2004 revealed that lawmakers were increasingly relying on lobbyists as guides on legislation. "Term limits were sold to Michigan voters on the notion that they would sever close ties with lobbyists and cause legislators to be more independent. In reality, we found them to have the opposite impact," said Sarbaugh-Thompson. According to the study, the lack of experience, as a result of restrictive term limits, among lawmakers had eroded the power among committee chairpersons and the relationships among lawmakers.[6][7][4]

Path to the ballot

See also: How the Michigan Constitution is amended

To place the measure on the ballot a minimum of a two-thirds vote was required in both the House and the Senate.

See also