LANSING — State Rep. John Chirkun (D-Roseville) introduced legislation recently that would make significant changes to laws regarding term limits for state legislators in Michigan. House Joint Resolution PP would change allowable service time to twenty years that can be distributed between service time in the House of Representatives and Senate in any combination that does not exceed the limit, beginning with legislators first elected in 2019. Current law allows for up to three, two-year terms in the House, and up to two, four-year terms in the Senate.
“Most degree or certification programs are two to four years, and even once you enter the workforce it takes a few more years to get real experience under your belt,” said Chirkun. “Yet by the time legislators are really getting good at things — six to eight years in — their time is cut short. That doesn’t serve anyone, least of all the people of our state. The best laws come from careful thought, long-term accountability and bipartisan cooperation, and you can’t manufacture that kind of experience or wisdom in two years.”
Despite the once-vocal push for term limits, the unintended consequences they have generated — including the rise of a powerful lobby corps on whom incoming legislators often rely and become beholden to — have led many to question whether they’ve accomplished their original goal.
“It takes time to learn how to be an effective legislator, committee member, and overall public servant,” said Chirkun. “By increasing term limits, we help ensure the main thing influencing public policy is the earnest desire to improve lives for everyday Michiganders, and not to simply keep one’s seat from one term to the next, to find their next job or use a last minute lame duck session to pass poorly thought out legislation.”