In Michigan, voters may decide fate of state’s full-time legislature

Which states operate under full-time legislatures, and which have part-time lawmakers? The answer is not always clear-cut, and is based on a mix of factors such as compensation, days in session and staffing levels. But there is no question that Michigan employs a full-time model. Its 148 legislators meet year-round and are paid an annual salary of $71,685.

According to the Detroit Free Press, more than 700 people work in the Legislature. A pending ballot initiative, though, could reshape the state’s governance structure. It calls for legislators to be paid no more than $35,000 a year and to hold one regular session per year lasting no more than 60 consecutive days. Legislative staffing levels would be capped at 250.

Lawmakers in seven Midwestern states are paid less (much less in many cases) than $35,000 annually: Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin (four of the region’s five highest-populated states) set salaries at a level more commensurate with full-time work. These four states also don’t have statutory or constitutional limits on session lengths. In contrast, session days are capped at 60 in Nebraska (for even-numbered years) and 40 in South Dakota. In the Midwest’s lowest-populated state, North Dakota, legislators meet once every two years.

Stateline Midwest ~ March 20141.71 MB