Mich. lawmakers debating merits of going part-time - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Mich. lawmakers debating merits of going part-time

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan lawmakers are looking at legislation that would make themselves part-time politicians.

Backers of bills that have been or will be introduced in the new legislative session say the Michigan Legislature is only one of four in the nation to be truly on the job full time. They argue there's no reason they can't do their work in fewer days and with fewer dollars.

Critics, including Gov. Rick Snyder and some legislative leaders, say the demands of the work require full-time attention.

"I know there is a difference of opinion on this and some of my colleagues will have plenty to say about it," St. Joseph Republican Sen. John Proos told the Detroit Free Press for a story Sunday. Proos introduced a bill in the Senate that would let voters decide if lawmakers should work only 90 days a year.

"But this is a reform that makes good common sense," he said. "We're having to find savings and solutions to problems on a daily basis."

Another backer is Rochester Hills GOP state Rep. Tom McMillin, who plans to introduce similar legislation in his chamber that includes cutting lawmakers' annual salary of $71,685 by 75 percent. He has previously -- and unsuccessfully -- introduced the legislation.

"I think we can get our work done in 90 days," he told the newspaper. "Our major task is the budget, and we got that done early the past two years."

As it is, the Legislature worked 81 days in 2012. From mid-June through the end of November, members logged 10 days of work in Lansing as many House members campaigned for re-election. That was followed by a three-week lame-duck marathon that included passage of 282 bills, including the contentious right-to-work legislation limiting union powers.

Lawmakers were in session for 100 days in 2011.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said he and his colleagues' work in their districts, including speaking engagements and constituent meetings, should be factored in to the full-time equation. He said the governor talks about the importance of customer service in government, and elected representatives "end up being that window for customer service."

Of the top 10 most populous states, three in addition to Michigan -- California, Pennsylvania and New York -- have full-time legislatures. Three others have semi-full-time legislatures that generally don't meet year-round. Most states have lawmaker sessions limited to 90 days or fewer, and some don't meet every year.

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