The Washington Post

Michigan Tea Partiers want to end full-time legislature

Lawmakers in Lansing, Mich., are some of the most highly paid in the country. Members of the full-time legislature command salaries of $71,685 a year, with an added $10,800 allotted for expenses.

But now a group of Tea Party activists wants to save taxpayers some money by ending the legislature’s full-time status, which began after a constitutional amendment passed in 1963. The group has submitted language for a proposed constitutional amendment that would cap the annual legislative session at 60 days, and limit lawmaker salaries to $35,000 a year.

“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,” Norm Kammeraad, who heads the group backing the amendment, said in a release.

The measure would cap total legislative staff at just 250, about a quarter of the number of staffers currently employed in Lansing.

Michigan has a high bar for ballot access for constitutional amendments. If approved by the state Bureau of Elections, the group would only have until June to collect 325,000 signatures. Kammeraad said his group would try to bring in 400,000 signatures to account for those deemed invalid.

California, New York and Pennsylvania, like Michigan, have full-time legislatures. Thirteen states have no limits on the length of their legislative sessions in at least one year of the two-year cycles.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.



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