Skubick: Talk of changing term limits for lawmakers heating up again

Michigan

There’s a renewed effort underway to change the state’s 27 year old term limit law with a new non-partisan group adding its voice to the possible ballot proposal in 2020.  

Since 1992, when term limits was voted in by the citizens, there have been on-again, off-again chatter about extending the years lawmakers can serve in office from the current 14 years to something longer.  

All those talks went kaput but this time, it could be different.

That’s because the Speaker of the House, the Senate Republican leader, the head of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the head of Voters Not Politicians are involved in these new talks.

That’s the group of grassroots volunteers who stunned this town by successfully leading a petition drive to supposedly eliminate gerrymandering.

Skubick: “Do you sense that the passion is there to change term limits?”

Nancy Wang, Voters Not Politicians: “Yes, I do.”

The Senate Democratic leader is hoping that passion will turn into expanding term limits but he says the proposal needs to be sweetened with some ethical reforms that could win voters over.

“If you can put in some pretty strong ethics reforms to make sure you get in some protections of the public, then maybe they would be open to changing it,” explained Sen. Jim Ananich.  

Skubick: “So it needs to be sweetened a bit?”

Sen. Ananich: “Yeah, I think so.”

But many conservatives who love term limits are not likely to vote to put this on the ballot.

“The longer people are here, the more they are distant from their district, they lose touch on why they ran,” insists Rep. Steve Johnson. “They are more influenced by the lobbyists. Get in and get out. Drain the swamp.”

But former senator turned lobbyist Matt Dunaskiss argues, term limits does not allow enough time for lawmakers and governors to form real and lasting relationships to solve problems such as stalled budget talks.

“Right now, all you have to do is look at the negotiations going on with the budget. We need more experienced legislators if more firm relationships. “

Skubick: “They need a relationship?”

Dunaskiss: “Absolutely.”

So far the quartet is talking about options and no deal has been made.

But if they do agree, Michigan voters would have to ratify the changes in 2020.

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