Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Term Limits Hurt Michigan

A letter was written on Monday, September 14th, by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts addressing the need to repeal Michigan's term limits law (The Detroit News). Jim Fouts agrees that there needs to be drastic action, but he wants to completely repeal the term limits law. Fouts believes that the number one reason behind this is the inexperience, which has led to inaction and misjudgments by state legislatures.

One example that Fouts clearly underlines in his letter is the disregard legislators have in regard to legislation due to the inconvenience of term limits. Fouts discusses how fireworks were made legal to use on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Dec. 26. These are industrial grade fireworks. "Many people throughout the state complain about neighborhoods sounding like a war zone. These fireworks have a particularly toxic effect on pets, small children, the elderly, war vets, and those who simply want to sleep without fear of their house catching fire. This is a classic example of misguided action caused by inexperienced legislators" (The Detroit News). Evidently, people are rising eyebrows concerning their trust in their state government.

Not only are irrational laws passed, but legislation is completely rushed. The example that Fouts gave was the 2014 Proposal 1, which was yet another misguided proposal that passed through the Legislature. This proposal was written to benefit the large manufacturing industry that spent millions on the campaign. Unlike other ballot proposals, it was written and approved by the state legislature. "The ballot language was very biased, one-sided, and misleading. It did not create one job that was promised" (The Detroit News). "Almost three quarters of the tax reduction goes to large industrial manufacturers," Jim Fouts says. The proposal language mentions schools, public safety, and jobs making it sound much nicer than the ballot proposal really is.

The change in tax structure that this proposal emphasizes will reduce the money Warren and other cities in Michigan will get due to a loss in personal property tax revenue. Next year, Warren will lose "$10.6 million plus a lot of new tax money generated by over a two billion dollars investment in their new downtown area" (Detroit Free Press). Now cities will be forced to drastically reduce services or increase taxes both of which are "unacceptable!" These proposals and others were rushed through the legislature with little understanding of the ramifications of these. Most proposals, if not all, were written not in the interest of people, but the interest of special interests. Since the members of the House only have three two year terms (Michigan Government), after only four years they are "lame ducks." They can’t get re-elected and are obviously looking for another job. Experience in any other field is rewarded and term limits are diminishing experience.

Should we have term limits? Explain why or why nor. Are term limits affecting legislation? Should we blame term limits for making Michigan's state legislators truly inexperienced? Michigan's six year limit in the House seems very low compared to other states such as Nevada and Louisiana who have a twelve year limit for House members. Is there a right set number of years that would avoid a term limit from interfering with legislation? Should we have voters instead, vote politicians out of office rather than wait the entire term limit? Should we ban term limits all together?


Source of image: Detroit News


Jack Loar said...

I think that there should be term limits on state legislators; however, I think they should be longer than Michigan's 6-year term limit. Michigan's c-year term limit for its House is the shortest one out of the 14 states with term limits (NCSL). The problem of inexperienced legislators does arise more easily with term limits, but even without term limits, if a district's views suddenly change, inexperienced legislators could end up in the state Congress. I do not think that Michigan's problems are solely because of their short term limits as people in office still sometimes change without completing their term limits, but the short limit does not help.

I agree with term limits because I think that changes in office are beneficial for accurately representing the views of the constituents as they change over time. Although it is possible for a district to not reelect a representative, sometimes people will not vote against the incumbent unless there is a major problem.

Juliana Stahr said...

I completely agree Jack. Michigan's rather short term limit has created several issues for the state. With longer term-limits, people feel that their state legislators are experienced enough yet that changes in office will keep the public satisfied for who ever is being represented.

I find it interesting that you find Michigan's problems to not solely be related to their term limits. Are the citizens of Michigan voting for candidates that are truly inexperienced? How can one fix this issue of terrible and rushed legislation that are being passed in the state?

Juliana Stahr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louis Villa said...

I think extending term limits is a dangerous path to go down. If a person in the state legislature is voting for bills that help the people of the state, they will probably be reelected (or at least that is the way it should work). Having the term limit allows the citizens to have an impact on the legislature in fairly frequent intervals. If state legislatures have extremely long terms, they can make unpopular votes that don't represent the citizens early in their term, and they will be forgotten by the time that elections role around again.