This week, "The Committee to Restore Michigan's Part-Time Legislature," a non-profit organization, submitted language and copies of their petition sheets to Michigan's Bureau of Elections in Lansing for review and recommendation to the Board of Canvassers for approval.
"This process began the huge task of collecting 400,000 signatures from Michigan's registered voters to place a simple question on Michigan's Tuesday, November 4, 2014 general election ballot which is: 'Should Michigan's Constitution be amended to restore a citizen driven Part-Time Legislature....yes or no?'" said the committee's Chairman, Norm Kammeraad, a life-long resident and businessman in Michigan.
Only four States (California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania) still have Full-Time Legislatures. Historically, Michigan's State Constitution called for a Part-Time Legislature until it was amended in 1963.
Kammeraad continued: "We believe Michigan's former 1963 amendment, which adopted our present full-time legislature, has led to the over-regulation and over-taxation of Michigan's residents and businesses which has resulted in the decline and economic hardship for all of Michigan over the past 50 years. It further caused Michigan's legislators to place more focus on being career-oriented lawmakers rather than truly representing its citizens as our state's forefathers intended."
The key elements of the proposed amendment are:
No more than 60 days of regular session/year
Legislator compensation reduced from 100,000 of salary benefits to a capped $35,000 per year
Disclosure of all State payments to legislators
Bills must be on the public internet at least five days before adoption
No more than 250 legislative staff allowed Allowance for a mechanism to suspend Executive actions when not in session
Kammeraad said, "This signature petition drive to obtain 400,000 signatures will be a huge undertaking and will require many volunteers and organizations to help us accomplish it, but in the end will finally right our great ship of state.
In addition, we will need the financial resources for our legal and organizational expenses for starting this up, printing costs and eventually the funds necessary to educate Michigan's citizens of the importance of voting to restore our state government back to a citizen-driven, part-time basis while reducing our legislators' total compensation to half (50 percent) of their current base pay.
If our representative-legislators live and work 300 days a year with their constituents, rather than receiving enormous salaries to be with the lobbyists and special interests in Lansing, Michigan will regain the prosperity that once made it the greatest industrial engine in the U.S. and the world.
Our proposal will force the legislators of Michigan to focus on passing a budget within sixty (60) consecutive calendar days and force them to pass fewer laws based on prioritizing rather than trying to make a name for themselves by passing as many laws as possible.
After that, they will go back to their districts with the people who elected them and live under the laws they passed for the rest of the year.
Finally their pay, expenses and benefits will be reduced from $100,000 to $35,000 per year, which will force all of them to go back into the private sector to supplement their reduced pay, just like the rest of Michigan's citizens, so they will have skin in this game too."
Tonight in the Daily Pulse, we're wondering: Should Michigan's Constitution be amended to restore a citizen-driven, Part-Time Legislature? Yes or no? Why or why not?