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Special Elections Restrictions Sail Through Legislature

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Lawmakers in Lansing are trying to put new restrictions on who can run in special elections.  

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 said, “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.

But critics of the bill say it takes away voter choice.

Democrat Adam Zemke is a member of theHouse Elections and Ethics Committee

“It should be up to the voters to decide,” he said.  “We gotta get away from this politicians picking politicians.  We gotta get back to voters picking elected representatives.”

But Miller said the legislation doesn’t do that, it’s just a common sense response to these types of situations. 

Miller explained, “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.”

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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