Lansing — The state House approved legislation that would stop a senator or representative from running for office in a special election if he or she resigned or was removed from office.
The measure passed mostly along party lines, 72-36. The legislation would close a loophole in election law that allows a lawmaker to run for a seat he or she was removed or resigned from, which disgraced former Republican state Rep. Todd Courser tried to do after he resigned from his seat following a bizarre sex scandal cover-up attempt.
Former Republican state Rep. Cindy Gamrat — with whom Courser had the affair he attempted to conceal — also tried to run for the remainder of the legislative term that opened up after she was expelled from her seat over the scandal.
Both Gamrat and Courser lost their re-election bids in special primary elections held for their seats.
The bill would change the law to make sure that a lawmaker’s removal would remain in effect for the rest of an unexpired state senate or representative term.
Identical legislation passed the state House in 2016 but did not make it to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.
Supporters say those who resigned or were removed from office because of some wrongdoing shouldn’t be able to win their seat back afterward.
“It is absurd that a member who has voluntarily decided to end a term of office prematurely should then seek to be returned to resume the same term,” a House Fiscal Agency analysis said under the “arguments for” section of the document.
But some opponents of the bill argued there should be a distinction in the proposed law between lawmakers who resign and those who are expelled.
They argue that someone who was expelled shouldn’t “be held to the same standard” because a lawmaker could hypothetically be expelled for “trivial, inadequate or retaliatory reasons,” according to the fiscal analysis.
The House Fiscal Agency does not take positions on legislation, but sometimes explains supporting or opposing arguments for bills.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, is staying neutral on the bill, the analysis said.
Rep. Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, sponsored the legislation. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.