Michigan Part-time Legislature Amendment (2008)
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A second Michigan initiative—Turn Michigan Around amendment—would have also turn Michigan's full-time legislature into a part-time one. However, it would have ended term limits for legislators; this one would have kept term limits intact. Should both measures appeared on the ballot the amendment receiving the most votes would have been enacted.
Details of the amendment
The amendment, if passed, would have:
- Limited regular annual sessions of the legislature, working from the second Wednesday in March until no later than July 1 each year. A maximum of 20 days per year would be available for special sessions that could be called by the governor. Committee work could be done between sessions, but lawmakers would participate and vote from their home districts.
- Cut lawmaker salaries in half (from $79,650 to $40,000), limit legislators' expense accounts, and eliminate state-paid pensions or lifetime medical coverage for legislators.
- Fined lawmakers $400 a day for absences, to be deducted from their salaries.
- Eliminated the Officeholders Compensation Commission, requiring the legislature to set all salaries out in the open and right before November elections.
- Required the Governor to submit a balanced budget on time or face censure.
Greg Schmid, an attorney in the Saginaw area, submitted and obtained approval for ballot language from the Board of Canvassers.
Allan Schmid, Greg's father and an attorney as well, also supported the amendment. He believed it was the better of the two part-time legislature proposals, partly because it kept term limits in place. Allan wrote the ballot initiative that first enacted term limits in 1992. "I think it's working better now than it ever has," he said.
"We are totally out of step with the rest of the country," Allan added. "We are in step with all other states that have full-time legislature in that we have the highest paid legislature in country, the highest tax rates in the country and one of the most inefficient governments in the country." Michigan is one of only four states with a full-time legislature.
The Schmids also sponsored a second initiative for Michigan's November 2008 ballot. That proposal, known as People's Choice Tax Repeal Amendment, proposed requiring a referendum on any proposed tax hike.
The Committee to Turn Michigan Around, an initiative of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Association for Greater Kalamazoo, supported an alternate plan for creating a part-time legislature. The primary difference between the proposed amendments was that this one left legislative term limits intact, while the Turn Michigan Around Amendment would abolish legislative term limits.
Proponents were required to collect at least 380,126 valid signatures by July 7, 2008, in order to qualify the measure for the November 2008 ballot.
- Full text of the amendment
- Part-Time Legislature Initiative web site
- Cut Legislature down to part-time size, Detroit Free Press, Nov. 14, 2007