Stateline Midwest ~ May 2013
Legislating is not a full-time job for most of the Midwest’s 1,550 state lawmakers — at least when it comes to pay. In 2012, only legislators in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin were paid salaries above the nation’s per capita income of $42,693. And in Michigan and Ohio, the advent of term limits means state lawmaking is, at most, only a temporary career.
Nicholas Kusnetz of the Center for Public Integrity says voters have largely embraced the idea of a “citizen legislature” — individuals from different walks of life gather in the capitol, conduct the state’s business, and then return to their homes and places of employment.
It sounds good in theory, Kusnetz says, but he adds that states should do more to address an unavoidable reality: the slew of conflicts of interest that arise when lawmakers rely on outside income.