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Letter: Term limits have hurt Michigan

Jim Fouts

The state Legislature cannot agree on any road funding proposal, and the solution proposed by editorial page editor Nolan Finley is to change to a part-time Legislature (Re: “Finley: Make Legislature part-time,” Aug. 23). I agree with Finley on the need for drastic action, but I have another solution: Repeal the term limits law. My reason is inexperience leads to inaction or misjudgments by our state legislators.

I have been a somewhat frequent critic of the Legislature and not just for its inaction on roads.

The state fireworks law of 2011 was written by lobbyists from the fireworks industry. I know because I publicly debated the fireworks industry spokesperson when he bragged that he understood the fireworks law better than anyone because he helped write it for the state legislature.

It created louder, longer lasting, and more lethal fireworks. It also allows fireworks to be legally set off the day before the holiday, the day of the holiday, and the day after. This provision is for Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and even Christmas.

That means fireworks can now legally be used Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Dec. 26. These are industrial grade fireworks. Many people throughout the state complain about neighborhoods sounding like a war zone. These fireworks have a particularly toxic effect on pets, small children, the elderly, war vets, and those who simply want to sleep without fear of their house catching fire. This is a classic example of misguided action caused by inexperienced legislators.

The 2014 Proposal 1 was another misguided proposal rushed through the Legislature. This proposal was clearly written to benefit the large manufacturing industry that spent millions on the campaign. Unlike other ballot proposals, it was written and approved by the state legislature. The ballot language was very biased, one-sided, and misleading. It did not create one job that was promised. Almost three quarters of the tax reduction goes to large industrial manufacturers. The proposal language mentions schools, public safety, and jobs making it a sales pitch instead of a ballot proposal.

It emphasizes on reforming the tax structure, but the only reform was to drastically reduce the money Warren and other cities will get from the loss of personal property tax revenue. Next year, Warren will lose $10.6 million plus a lot of new tax money generated by over a two billion dollars investment in our new downtown area. Now cities will be forced to drastically reduce services or increase taxes both of which are unacceptable!

The right-to-work law effectively crippled unions in this state. Unions now must beg workers to join. It also means that, if you don’t contribute, you still get the benefits negotiated by the union. It means that “slackers” get the rewards of those who work and contribute. This law was written to punish organized labor.

This year’s Proposal 1 was a hodge-podge of several different special interests proposals but the voters saw that this was not really about roads, but was about too many other things, and they defeated this proposal by an overwhelming margin.

These proposals and others were rushed through the legislature with little understanding of the ramifications of these. Most, if not all, were written not in the interest of people, but the interest of special interests.

Since the members of the House only have three two year terms. After only four years they are lame ducks. They can’t get re-elected and are obviously looking for another job. Pleasing special interests (fireworks, industrial manufacturers, business interests) become priority one. The senate has only two four year terms.

After their first four year term, state senators are lame-ducked for their final term. They have four years to vote for measures to please various special interests.

Experience in any other field is rewarded. Term limits are diminishing experience.

Jim Fouts, mayor