In Michigan, working 103 days out of the year is considered a “full-time” legislature

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Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is trying to prove his conservative cred by pushing for a part-time legislature. It’s not going well. He was forced to restart his petition drive to put a part-time legislature on the ballot in 2018, the year he himself will be on the ballot, when it was discovered that his plan would prevent the legislature from over-riding a gubernatorial veto and would limit “the constitutional option for the Legislature to adopt or reject bills sent to Lansing by petition drive”. One of his Republican critics characterized his petition drive as being driven like a “clown car.”

Anyone who knows anything about part-time legislatures knows that this puts incredible power in the hands of both lobbyists and legislative staff members who are not term-limited. It’s a bad idea and it’s VERY bad for democracy. But that’s how Republicans like it.

But, here’s the thing. We already have a part-time legislature. The legislative calendars for the State House and State Senate show that the House only meets 99 days out of the year and the Senate meets for only 103. That’s part-time by pretty much any standard you could use. If the legislature wants to cut their own pay, one of the reasons Calley says he’s pushing for this, they can do that at any time. But imagine the gridlock and chaos that would occur if they only met 50 days out of the year. Special interest lobbies, already overly-powerful thanks to nearly endless funding and spending, would have even MORE power to control the direction and future of our state. Corporatist groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who write model legislation, would add to their power, as well.

Again, that’s fine with Republicans, particularly since so many of them go on to become lobbyists themselves.

There will be a LOT of money spent on both sides of this issue if it gets on the 2018 ballot. And, at the end of the day, Brian Calley is more interested in boosting his conservative profile than anything else. Let there be no misapprehension about THAT.

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