Former MI lawmakers appeal suit challenging Michigan's legislative term limits

Posted at 11:05 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 11:05:51-04

(WXYZ) — A group of former Michigan lawmakers has filed an appeal after a federal judge upheld Michigan's term limits for state representatives and senators.

The bipartisan group of 10 former lawmakers originally filed the lawsuit in 2019, saying that the term limits violated the first and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and portions of the Michigan Constitution.

Term limits were introduced after a ballot initiative in 1992 that was passed by nearly 59% of Michigan voters. It limited Michigan State Representatives to three 2-year terms and Michigan Senators to two 4-year terms.

The group of lawmakers said the term limits create a class of people who aren't allowed to run for public office because they have experience.

In January 2021, federal Judge Janet Neff ruled against the lawmakers, writing they "have not established, as a matter of law, that the Michigan Constitution’s term limits provision violates either the federal or state Constitutions."

Now, the group is appealing to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The reality is, Michigan’s term limits have created a dangerous level of learning-on-the-job, highlighted by the pandemic,” former State Rep. Paul Opsommer, a Republican, said in a release“As Michigan has struggled through the pandemic, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if the legislature had stronger, longer term relationships with each other and with the Governor.”

“Term limits have made it hard to develop the relationship between legislators across the aisle and across the state. From the moment you are elected, you have a clock ticking down the time you can spend advancing the priorities you set - or preparing to run for the next office you seek,” former State Rep. Mark Meadows, a Democrat, added. “In my experience, by the time you truly understand the process, you are on your way out the door. That’s not how you run a company, and that's not how you should run a government.”

The lawmakers who filed the suit include:

  • Rep. Scott Dianda, D - Calumet,
  • Rep. Clark Harder, D - Owosso
  • Rep. Joe Haveman, R - Holland
  • Sen. Mike Kowall, R - White Lake
  • Rep. Mark Meadows, D - East Lansing
  • Rep. David Nathan, D - Detroit
  • Paul Opsommer, R - Dewitt Twp.
  • Sen. Douglas Spade, D - Hillsdale
  • Rep. Mary Valentine, D - Norton Shores