The Clock Is Ticking On Proposal 1 Legislation
Question 1): Here’s what was on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2022 —
TERM LIMITS FOR STATE LEGISLATORS AND FINANCIAL
DISCLOSURE REPORTS OF STATE ELECTED OFFICIALS
Proposal 22-1 would amend the state constitution to change its term limit provisions for state
legislators. Currently, a person cannot be elected more than three times as a state representative
and more than two times as a state senator. The proposal would instead provide that a person
cannot be elected as a state legislator for terms or partial terms totaling more than 12 years,
regardless of whether that time is served in the House or in the Senate. The proposal also would
require certain state elected officials to file an annual financial disclosure report that describes
such things as the official’s assets, liabilities, sources of income, gifts from lobbyists, and other
positions held. Finally, the proposal would indirectly repeal the law that now governs the
assignment of seats in the House of Representatives.
This proposed constitutional amendment would:
• Require members of legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and
attorney general file annual public financial disclosure reports after 2023, including
assets, liabilities, income sources, future employment agreements, gifts, travel
reimbursements, and positions held in organizations except religious, social, and
• Require legislature implement but not limit or restrict reporting requirements.
• Replace current term limits for state representatives and state senators with a 12-year
total limit in any combination between house and senate, except a person elected to
senate in 2022 may be elected the number of times allowed when that person became a
Should this proposal be adopted?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO
So, could anything be clearer?
Yet, the Legislature wasted more than nine months resisting taking this issue up, instead concentrating on a partisan agenda pushed through by majority Democrats bent on undoing the major accomplishments of the Gov. Rick Snyder era (2011-2019).
Even as late as this fall, when House Dems announced their priorities. they cited issues like the land equity tax package, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Energy Accountability; and the Reproductive Health Act. Other Democrats complained that issues like paid family leave, auto no fault reform, repealing the “death star,” mental health parity, drive safe legislation, the national popular vote, polluter pay, and utility accountability should also be high priority.
But what about Proposal 1? Fact is, if the Legislature is unable to pass implementation language on the financial disclosure elements in Proposal 1 by the end of the year, anyone in the state would have standing to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to step in. As MIRS newsIetter has pointed out, it’s not clear by the language of last year’s constitutional amendment what it allows the Supreme Court to do, exactly. Would the justices order the Legislature to pass implementation language immediately? Would they go ahead and write their own rules for financial disclosure?
Finally, financial disclosure legislation affecting legislators and statewide executives, implementing the transparency measures of Proposal 1 of 2022, was put on the Senate Oversight Committee’s agenda three weeks ago.
Next, an alternative package of financial disclosure bills was introduced by several House Democrats that includes reporting the assets of candidates and officeholders’ spouses, although it was quickly buried on what is called “Second Reading.” The House package requires that, starting in 2028, spouses and dependents of legislators, candidates and anyone else who has to file disclosure forms must also publicly declare their assets and sources of income. It also includes candidates/members of the state Board of Education and the three elected boards of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.
Answer 1): It must and it will get done, but there are sure to he strenuous complaints about the final product from various reformers and interest groups, as there should be. But whatever is enacted this year can always be amended next year and beyond.
Michigan’s record of sunshine and financial disclosure in state government is a disgrace, and has been for a long time. We have long been one of only two states (Idaho is the other) without such strictures. Recent events involving two former state House Speakers, one of them just sentenced to 55 months in prison for bribery, show how sorely Michigan’s laws are lacking.
Amazingly, nearly half a century ago, in 1974, Common Cause — a national ethics reform organization headed John Gardner, a prominent LBJ cabinet secretary, spearheaded an effort to get Michigan to adopt exactly what is being contemplated now. A monster rally was held in the old Lansing Civic Arena two blocks from the Capitol. Gardner roused the troops, legislators cowered. One of them even went so far as to release all his tax returns to show he had nothing to hide.
But was any law passed? No way. And it’s it’s been that way for nearly 50 years.
Will Whitmer’s Tweet on the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel continue to haunt her?
Question 2): Three weeks ago, in the wake of the Hamas surprise attack on Israel, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a surprisingly tone-deaf statement in which she didn’t once mention the word “Israel.” Condemnation of her comments was quick and harsh. Critics called the message purposely ambiguous, claiming she seemed to be expressing sympathy for those on one side of the tragedy while simultaneously attempting to appease the other. Realizing her mistake, Whitmer two hours later hastened to ‘clarify’ what she had said, mentioning “Israel” three times. But had the damage been done? Will there be any negative long-term political fall-out for Whitmer?
Answer 2): To those who claim the governor would have been better off saying nothing, well, no, she had to say something. That said, what “communities” was she talking about? What “impact” was she referring to? Could she have been more specific about the “region?” Fact is, Whitmer’s words were what might be expected from U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), a Palestinian-American who in fact issued a statement strikingly similar to Whitmer’s. The governor’s words were senseless. She seemed to care more about not politically offending supporters of the perpetrators of the massacre of innocents in Israel than offering true sympathy and support for our strongest ally in the Middle East. Clarity during dangerous times is required for strong leaders. The fallout from Whitmer’s tweet provides evidence for her detractors that she isn’t ready for the national stage. Sure, Michigan is home to the largest contingent of Arab-Americans outside the Middle East, and they vote overwhelmingly Democratic. She didn’t want to offend them by gojng too far in expressing sympathy for Israel. Problem is, by such virtue-signaling, she invoked “moral equivalency” between Hamas and Israel, thereby stamping herself as allied with the ‘progressive’ left-wing of the Democratic Party that is increasingly supportive of Palestine and hostile to Israel.