Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

We are deeply indebted to many, many people. This project survived for 15 years with almost no funding. That it persisted is a testament to the willingness of many people to donate their time and energy in the hope that we would improve the political process and the quality of government in Michigan.

First and foremost, we are especially grateful to the legislators who shared their time and knowledge with us. We have, in turn, tried to share their insights with our students, other scholars, and readers...

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One. Introduction

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pp. 1-22

More than two decades after term limits surged across the political landscape, the time is right to assess this reform. Proponents persuaded voters in state after state to pass measures limiting the service of elected officials. They told voters that limiting elected officials’ years in office would restore democracy by severing cozy relationships between legislators and lobbyists, increasing the number of citizen legislators, and making elections more competitive (Niven 2000). These proponents also said that term limits would attract Burkean trustees motivated by the general welfare...

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Two. Is There a New Breed of Term-Limited Legislator?

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pp. 23-47

Advocates asserted that by removing the “drag of incumbency” term limits would attract citizen legislators motivated by public service rather than reelection seeking (Will 1992). Voters were told that this “new breed” of legislator would serve briefly, then return to their community to live under the laws they passed. Additionally, political scientists (Petracca 1991; Thompson and Moncrief 1993) as well as term limits activists (Will 1992) anticipated that this new breed would include more women and ethnic minority legislators. Indeed, term limits were sold to voters both...

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Three. Legislative Representation

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pp. 48-73

A fundamental tenet of representative democracy is that elected officials represent their constituents. Although this sounds simple, it is hard if these constituents happen to be a diverse lot whose preferences conflict. Legislators cope with this dilemma by relying on, in their words, “conscience, constituents and caucus” (interview notes). They do this while being largely oblivious to the enduring debate about representation among political thinkers from Edmund Burke (1790) to Hannah Pitkin (1967),1 including present-day scholars, who continue to extend and nuance the complexities...

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Four. Legislators’ Behaviors

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pp. 74-99

Term limits activists wanted a new breed of legislator, not as an end in itself, but because they expected these legislators to act differently. They base this on the assumption that career legislators’ actions are driven by a single goal—reelection. Shorter terms of service prevent legislators from making a career of their job. Freed from the pressures of reelection seeking, legislators should, according to term limits backers, behave differently—motivated by different goals (Will 1992; Petracca 1991). Although our findings in chapter 2 challenge these assumptions about legislators’ motivations,...

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Five. Elections When Open Seats Are Not a Surprise

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pp. 100-123

What effects do term limits have on electoral competition? Term limits ballot campaigns nationally and in Michigan promised that removing incumbents would increase competition (Niven 2000; see also the archives of the Yes on B Campaign at the Library of Michigan). This expectation seemed reasonable given that open seat elections tend to be more competitive (Gaddie and Bullock 2000), and term limits increase the rate of turnover in most states, creating more open seats. Therefore, many observers logically assumed that term limits would increase electoral competition,...

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Six. Information Gathering

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pp. 124-151

Legislators confront a dizzying array of policies and issues, yet it is unlikely that they are experts on more than a few. How, then, do they decide what bills to support and to oppose? Evidence suggests that, when legislators make policy decisions, they give and take cues from other sources, especially if they serve in a state legislature (Matthews and Stimson 1975; Songer 1988; Porter 1974). The sources they consult reveal who has access to legislators when they make momentous decisions affecting the economy, the environment, and citizens’ well-being. This chapter examines information...

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Seven. Floor Vote Consulting

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pp. 152-176

Consulting colleagues within the chambers remains important among post-term-limits legislators, even as they rely more on organized groups and lobbyists for information. Here we delve more deeply into floor vote consulting among colleagues, probing term limits effects at two levels: the individual and the chamber. In the previous chapter, we treated consulting with colleagues as a pair of binary variables. Colleagues were either consulted or not, and they were either the most important source or not. Now we measure the number of individual consulting relationships—the...

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Eight. Friendship

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pp. 177-203

What happens to friendship in a legislature with stringent limits on service, like Michigan’s? Friendships not only ameliorate partisan conflict (Patterson 1959) and facilitate compromise, they can build substantive policy influence as well. But friendships, especially those that cross party lines, evolve slowly, and, as Francis (1962) demonstrates, social interaction only gradually matures into influence. In pursuing this notion, we follow the pattern we established in chapter 7 of examining individual-level and institutional-level effects. In this we consider the average number of friendships...

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Nine. Influence among Legislators

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pp. 204-231

We seek in this chapter and the next to understand how term limits affect the acquisition, distribution, and use of influence in Michigan’s legislature. Influence is notoriously difficult to define and to distinguish from related concepts, such as power and control (see, especially, Bachrach and Baratz 1962; March 1966; Tannenbaum 1968, 1986; Raven 1990, 2008; Battista 2011; Mooney 2013). But the underlying processes and dynamics represented by these terms are central to the work of a legislature. Therefore we would be remiss if we let the challenge of distinguishing between them...

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Ten. Chamber Leaders and Committee Chairs

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pp. 232-257

How do newcomers decide who to choose for caucus leadership positions, and what difference do these choices make? Caucus leaders typically wield substantial control over the work of state legislatures through the official prerogatives of their positions (Francis 1985; Hamm, Hedlund, and Martorano 2006). As we reported in the chapter 9, these leaders are increasingly influential after term limits. Although much of their influence flows from the positions they hold (i.e., legitimate power), some leaders are described by their colleagues as knowledgeable experts, as exhibiting admirable personal qualities, and as intimidating or generous in dispensing...

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Eleven. Executive-Legislative Relationships in Michigan

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pp. 258-285

How do the effects of term limits spread beyond Michigan’s legislative bodies? The effects of legislative term limits appear to ripple beyond an individual chamber. This question of spillover focuses our inquiry as we examine relationships outside Michigan’s legislature. We examine three possible spillover effects in this chapter: between the legislature and the state bureaucracy, between the legislature and the governor, and between the two chambers. A key theme involves the redistribution of influence among these actors....

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Twelve. Conclusions

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pp. 286-310

At the outset we compared term limits to a rock thrown into a lake. The rock produces waves. The nature and dynamics of those waves, term limits’ direct effects, are interesting and worthy of investigation. But we also learn a lot about the lake (the legislature or state government) while examining the waves. In some cases mere ripples barely break the surface. Other times waves of change fundamentally alter the lake, leaving lasting impacts. From this perspective term limits provide political scientists with an opportunity to test a host of theories and propositions about characteristics of legislative...

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Appendix: Interview Questions for Members of the Michigan Legislature

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pp. 311-316

There are several versions of this basic set of questions. The versions are tailored to each chamber, whether the member is on the Appropriations Committee, whether we had interviewed the member before, and whether they could run for election again. Differences are minor. This is the basic House newcomer version.

1. When you initially ran for the House, what were your reasons for running?...

Notes

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pp. 317-326

References

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pp. 327-338

Index

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pp. 339-346