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Who stands to gain if Michigan moves to part-time legislature?

May 30, 2017

Lt. Governor Brian Calley is speaking at an event this afternoon at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Many observers believe today he'll announce a ballot drive to make Michigan a part-time legislature state.

Matt Grossmann is an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University, where he directs the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. Grossmann joined Stateside to break down what a part-time legislature could look like for Michigan.

He said based on the research, if quality is a priority for you, this might not be the best approach.

"The associations that we've seen nationally are that if you want good quality, good government legislation, then you might not be in favor of a part-time legislature," Grossmann said. "Less professionalized legislatures tend to produce less policy that wins awards, or that's copied by other states and more policy that gets overturned by the courts."

Grossmann said if you are a conservative, then you might favor this approach because in other states part-time legislatures have been associated with lower state spending overall and often leads to more Republican electoral gains.

However, he said when you reduce the power of the legislature, then someone else usually benefits. And that someone, according to the research, is lobbyists. Studies show that lobbyists tend to take a more prominent role when lawmakers are less professionalized. 

Listen to the full interview above to hear how a part-time legislature could affect the problems created by term limits and how a weaker legislature has impacted the power of the governor in other states.

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunesGoogle Play, or with this RSS link)