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As Michigan rounds a milestone anniversary of its toughest-in-the-nation term limits, Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research reviewed their effects in an IPPSR Public Policy Forum that wrapped up the Institute's fall forums series.

See the presentation, video and photos from the November Public Policy Forum.

Michigan voters adopted term limits in 1992. They put strict limits on the number of years that Michigan’s governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General and members of the state Senate and House of Representatives can serve in a lifetime.

In Tuesday’s election, Michigan faces its largest legislative turnover as 70 percent of the state Senate and 20 percent of the state House must leave office, noted IPPSR Interim Director Arnold Weinfeld.

“This IPPSR Forum will look at the outcome of term limits over its term, the case for keeping them and the case for reform,” Weinfeld said. “Our core question is whether term limits have delivered on their promise.”

Speakers include:

  • Marjorie Sarbaugh Thompson, Ph.D., professor of political science at Wayne State University. She has studied the impact of Michigan’s term limits since implemented. Commissioned by Citizen's Research Council to summarize her findings in a co-authored report, Sarbaugh will open the forum discussion.
  • Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at the Lansing-based nonpartisan consulting firm Public Sector Consultants. He served 20 years in the Michigan Legislature, 12 in the state House and eight in the Senate. He served as Republican House Leader and Senate Majority Leader.
  • Sen. Rebekah Warren, an Ann Arbor Democrat, who served in the state House for 4 years before successfully running for the state Senate, must leave the  Senate due to term limits. She is now seeking a state House seat, where if successful, she will serve a two-year term.
  • Chuck Hadden, president and CEO of Michigan Manufacturers Association. In that role, he has worked with House and Senate members prior to term limits and during their enactment. He was involved in putting together a report on term limits for the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE.)

Advocates cited term limits as a path to sharply shorten terms of office, more competitive elections, less friendly lobbyist-legislator relationships and expanded elective opportunities for women and minorities.

Naysayers claimed term limits were unnecessary and stifled the choice of voters who wanted to keep their selected representation in office for as long as they so chose.

Photos, speakers and presentations from past IPPSR Forums may be viewed at

IPPSR’s Forums break during December and start again on January 16, 2019. They’ll continue during the spring on February 13, 2019; March 13, 2019; April 17, 2019; and May 8, 2019. Topics and panelists will be announced prior to the events. Stay tuned to and @IPPSR #IPPSRForum over Twitter.

MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research is a unit within the College of Social Science. Its focus is on public policy education, leadership and survey research.