Special election restrictions sail through legislature

Mar 7, 2017

If you’re expelled or resign from your seat in the legislature, you shouldn’t get to run for the seat you vacated. That’s the logic behind a bill making progress in Lansing.

The legislation, which failed to make it through last year’s session, was crafted in the wake of a sex and cover-up scandal.

Explaining the partial inspiration for the bill, sponsor Republican Aaron Miller says “you learn from things that happen today what legislation needs to be changed for tomorrow.”

After the forced resignation and expulsion of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat for a sex scandal, they ran in the special election for their old seats.

The legislation, which passed a House committee in a 7-2 vote, would still allow lawmakers to run for office in future elections, just not the special election to fill out the remainder of their term.

Critics of the bill say it takes away voter choice.

Democrat Adam Zemke is a member of the House Elections and Ethics Committee. “It should be up to the voters to decide,” Zemke says. “We've got to get away from this politicians picking politicians. We gotta get back to voters picking elected representatives.”

Miller says the legislation doesn’t do that, saying it’s just a common sense response to these types of situations. He explains “if we’re expelling a member, which is a high hurdle enough, I think saying that that’s effective for that session is again very reasonable and very logical.”