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Politics

Part-time legislature aims to submit signatures in January

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Corey Seeman
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https://flic.kr/p/gSMdWW

A petition to move Michigan to a part-time legislature says it will have the necessary 315-thousand signatures collected by the end of January.

The group behind the petition, CleanMiGov, wants to reduce the number of legislative session days from 180  to 90.

Tom McMillin is the head of CleanMiGov, which created the petition. He said shortening the legislative sessions leaves special interests less time to wine and dine politicians.

“It’s really the special interests: the lobbyists, the people who make money off of convincing legislators to do bad things. Those are the main ones who are opposing what we’re doing.”

McMillin said with longer sessions lawmakers pass a lot of meaningless legislation.

“When I was in the legislature I saw that a lot. When the lobbyists can wine and dine for months and months legislators will often give in and they feel like they have to do something, they have to pass bills year round. It just gets silly.”

McMillin said another goal of the group will be to reduce legislator’s salaries from an average of 71-thousand dollars to 30-thousand dollars.

Rich Studley is the President and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and is opposed to the petition. He said the petition would drastically limit who is able to serve in the legislature.

“We need people from all walks of life in the legislature: older and younger and in between. Ask yourself the question ‘how many people could get 90 days from January through mid-April at the beginning of the year?’ The answer for most of us is not very many.”

And, said Studley, lawmakers simply need to be full time.

“I do believe that a good argument can be made that it is important for the legislature to come in and out of session over the year so they can take up issues that might not be apparent at the beginning of the year so they can respond to emergency situations or situations that take more work.”

Currently, CleanMiGov says it has roughly two-thirds of the 315- thousand signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot.