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Term Limits Proposal Cleared For Ballot As Prop 1

September 13, 2022

The Michigan Supreme Court is allowing a constitutional amendment to change the term limits law from three two-year House terms and two four-year Senate terms to a combined 12 years in the Legislature, to be placed on the ballot. The proposal will be known as Proposal 1.

A lawsuit filed by Anderson Economic Group CEO Patrick Anderson, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, and former Reps. Leon Drolet and Thomas McMillin argued the language of Proposal 22-1 related to two purposes – term limits and financial disclosures by legislators. They further alleged that the language as written by Elections Director Jonathan Braterobscures the true nature of the constitutional change. 

Justice David VIVIANO, who concurred, wrote that constitutional amendments offered through citizens petitions may need to be limited to one subject, but amendments offered through a two-thirds vote of the Legislature – which the term limits proposal was – do not.

The Board of State Canvassers approved Brater’s written summary, which states the proposed constitutional amendment would replace current term limits for lawmakers with a 12-year total limit in any combination between the two chambers, except a person elected to the Senate in November can be elected as allowed when he or she became a candidate.

Anderson, who helped pass the current term limit rules in 1992, said in a statement that he is disappointed the Supreme Court did not directly address the claim that the Legislature hid a term limit repeal “behind a veneer of ‘disclosure.'”

Anderson said he believes the court’s actions will allow future legislatures to craft multi-purpose proposals in an attempt to mislead voters.

“We appreciate Justice Viviano’s thoughtful statement in the order, which recognizes the serious issue of whether future constitutional amendments can involve multiple subjects,” he said. “Viviano’s concurrence invites a future case on dual-purpose amendments proposed by the citizens. We wish the justices had seen the danger apparent in this proposal by the Legislature. …

“If Proposal 1 passes, we will see future attempts to repeal vital constitutional protections dressed up as good government programs,” Anderson added.

The plaintiffs alleged the language of Proposal 22-1 related to two purposes – term limits and financial disclosures by legislators. They further alleged that the language as written by Brater obscures the true nature of the constitutional change. 

If the proposal passes in November, it also will require elected state officials to publicly report their assets, a description of liabilities, sources of income, gifts, positions held and future employment agreements as well as travel reimbursements.

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