In Michigan and Wisconsin, Some Lawmakers Want to Go Part-Time
By Jim Malewitz, Staff Writer
Should lawmakers in Michigan and Wisconsin cut their work hours? That’s what some hope to do, as they push constitutional amendments that would convert their states’ full-time legislatures into part-time bodies.
“Ultimately it saves taxpayers money and decreases the overall size of government,” state Senator John Proos told Michigan Radio on Monday (January 21).
The Republican is backing legislation that would condense Michigan’s current year-round session into just 90 days, leaving wiggle room for emergency sessions.
Meanwhile, a Wisconsin Democrat has a similar aim. Representative Leon Young last week said he will propose a 90-day session, along with a pay-cut to $12,000 each year. Currently Wisconsin legislators make a salary near $50,000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"It is fair to say that we actually function as a “de facto” part-time legislature now,” he said. Out of 122 possible session days last year, the legislature met on only 34, he noted.
Michigan and Wisconsin are among just 10 states that have full-time legislatures. Those states have some of the largest populations.
One state not on that list, however, is Texas, where lawmakers convene for 140-day sessions, but only in odd-numbered years. Critics say that tradition, practiced in only four states, is inefficient for such a vast, complex state.
As The New York Times reported earlier this month, a long-shot effort is underway to move the Texas Legislature toward annual meetings.