Letter: Term limits keep politicians in check

The Detroit News

Re: Nolan Finley's Nov. 7 column, "Term limits may finally get a fix": If a group of inmates launched a coalition to weaken prison bars, they would be a laughingstock.

If we’d laugh off inmates trying to sneak out of prison, then we must laugh off Michigan politicians trying to sneak out of term limits. It is the same: Self-serving group schemes to lift restrictions on its own power.

Since term limits are designed to rein in politicians’ power, our elected elite should always recuse themselves from the discussion. Term limits must remain the province of Michigan citizens and no one else.

Voters passed term limits with 59% of the vote in 1992, and today over 7 million adult Michiganians are capable of declaring, “I think these term limits are bad. I’m going to start a petition drive to make them longer.”

Yet this doesn’t happen, because the people of Michigan are happy with current term limits.

Who isn’t happy? Politicians and lobbyists whose power is threatened by term limits.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey believes term limits have been bad for Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, believes term limits have been bad for Michigan; he is wrong, Tomboulides writes.

He is wrong. In 2018, one lawmaker remarked, “we have made tremendous strides in creating a positive business environment that has resulted in the creation of 540,000 private-sector jobs and the nation’s sixth-highest income growth rate.”

This same lawmaker called Michigan “a remarkable turnaround.”

That was Shirkey on his campaign website. When Shirkey wants re-election, Michigan is remarkable. When he wants to abolish term limits, Michigan is a train wreck. Which is it?

Term limits have been great for Michigan. Voters here get a choice. States without term limits aren’t so lucky; in Illinois, often over half of all races feature an incumbent running unopposed. The Illinois speaker, Michael Madigan, has been in office 48 years. Maybe Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield wants to abolish term limits because he aspires to be the Michigan version of Michael Madigan.

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, is scheming to hide longer term limits inside a Trojan horse of “ethics reforms,” Tomboulides writes.

Chatfield and Shirkey are working to trick the voters. Instead of putting longer term limits on the ballot as a standalone proposal — which would be rejected soundly — they scheme to hide it inside a Trojan Horse of “ethics reforms,” likely to consist of politicians appointing other politicians to investigate themselves. Essentially letting foxes guard the henhouse.

Now is the time to remind lawmakers who they work for and stop this power grab before it can reach the ballot.

Nick Tomboulides, executive director

U.S. Term Limits