Monday, November 26, 2007

Should we "extend" term limits?

We have been here since 1:30 p.m. on a Monday when usually, we don't even meet. We have not voted on anything yet. Apparently the issue is term limits.

Currently, House members get six years, Senate members get 8 years. A person could serve a total of 14 years, is he/she were fortunate enough to get elected to the House 3 times, and the Senate 2 times. But there has been a State Chamber-led effort to change term limits to 12 years, any way you want to use them. So, you could serve 12 years in the House, or 12 in the Senate, or any combination that adds up to twelve years. Seems innocent enough, right?

The problem at this point is that you need a minimum 60-day spread between the day you put something on the ballot and when the election happens. To put term limits on the January 15 Presidential ballot, we would have had to act by the 14th of November. What to do? Some have suggested we put off the primary until January 29th and put the term limit question on the ballot.

Oh, by the way, there are 42 or 43 Representatives who are done at the end of next year. With this term limits extension, we could stay another 6 years. In the interest of full disclosure, if it comes up for a vote, I am a "NO". I got here because of term limits, I advocated for them, I supported them. How hypocritical would it be for me to suddenly vote to extend my stay here, in Lansing?

And just one more thing...I understand there is a poll coming out that shows the Legislature in Michigan has an DISapproval rating of 82%, the lowest ever recorded. Do you think the voters want to send us back to Lansing for another term?

5 comments:

WCTaxpayers said...

I worked hard to pass term limits. I do not want them changed. They blame the mess in Lansing on inexperience I blame it on ignorence. Most people get 90 days to learn their job. If our legislators can not learn it in two years they need to get out.

I remember the days of Domonic Jacobetti and enough pork under the godfather to choke a horse. Lobbyists had a lot more influence and knew where it needed to be spread around.

The State Chamber of Commerce is and important group and needs to be heard but there influence should never overwelm the people of this state.

Rose Bogaert, Chair
Wayne County Taxpayers Association, Inc.

James Muffett said...

What about voting to exclude current members from benefiting as a result of any term limit extension? Is that possible?

WCTaxpayers said...

To what end? So that lobbyists will have more years to potentially influence our legislators? What we really need to do is make them part-time as well. Then, we may get people who know why they are there.

I realize that they work part-time anyways, but they would have to come home and work under the laws that they make. Lobbists would then have to come to them to influence them and we would have better access.

Ben said...

I agree. A couple months ago, when the budget crisis was happening, everyone in my three classes at KVCC were talking about it, and several were saying things to the effect of, "Someone needs to start a petition to make our legislature part-time! If they cant make decisions when they meet, why should we pay them full-time?"
That probably accounts for a lot of the 82% disapproval rating.

Gary Glenn said...

Jack, thanks for standing firm to your convictions.

Up until homosexual activist billionaire Jon Stryker from Kalamazoo dropped $5 million of his own money into beating House Republicans in 2006, one short-term result of term limits was that the House had become more Republican and more conservative than it was before the turnover.

Our founding fathers were correct in opposing the perpetuation of a career "political class." If anything, you guys (or the people) should impose stricter term limits and restrict the jumping from one house to the other thing after the service-in-one-house limits have been met.

Serving in political office changes the overwhelming majority of politicians, and not in a good way -- it's human nature. And scientific studies have shown that the longer someone's in office, for example, the more likely they are to vote for increased taxes and spending.

After a while, with rare exception, even the most ardent advocates of limited government develop a mindset of protecting the interests of the institution of government of which they're a part rather than the interests of the folks who elected them. Not saying they're bad people, they're just human, and they can't help themselves.

They can't help being influenced by their environment, where being loved and adored and accepted by their fellow politicians becomes extremely important for most, followed by the natural motivation to do what's likely to get them reelected.

Which is why structural limits on how long any one human being can remain in the environment is a safeguard for the interests of those who have to foot the bill.