June 27 04:30 AM

Howell leads effort for part-time legislature

Gary Howell
January 23, 2008
LAPEER COUNTY — Gary Howell, a candidate for the 82nd District House of Representatives this November, has taken his advocacy for a part-time legislature to a higher level.

The Republican from North Branch has been appointed chairman of Lapeer County's Part-time Legislature Campaign.

Howell will be leading the local effort to collect 370,000 signatures statewide, for the purpose of placing the proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The proposal would require that a part-time Michigan legislature complete its work no later than July 1 of each year. In addition, legislators would receive annual salaries of $40,000, a significant reduction from the $92,000 it now receives in total compensation.

The proposal would also eliminate retirement programs for legislators and lifetime medical insurance benefits for former legislators.

"It is outrageous and greedy for legislators who have served only six years to expect lifetime healthcare and retirement benefits funded by the taxpayers," said Howell. "If the legislature wants to lead Michigan out of this economic crisis, they need to begin by making financial sacrifices themselves."

Howell believes the benefits of a part-time legislature are many, adding that only professional politicians will continue to favor the existing system.

"I see no advantage to a full-time legislature," Howell said. "We are one of only four states (California, New York and Pennsylvania) that has a full-time legislature. It also really frosts me that over the past six years, they have met on an average of 93 days. "This is something that is long overdue," he said. "I think as long as we can get it on the ballot, it has an excellent chance of passing. This proposal will have the support of the public."

While the petition drive has barely begun, Howell believes momentum is already growing for the proposal.

"I think that based on what they (legislature) did last year, they are an argument against themselves," he said. "They waited until the last minute, then came up with a goofball plan to tax certain businesses that even they couldn't stomach later."

Howell particularly likes the proposal's inclusion of a July 1 deadline for the legislative body to complete its work.

"This proposal would force them to get things done," he said. "No longer will schools and municipalities be sitting on pins and needles, wondering how much money they're going to get."

Howell said he is available for speaking engagements on the topic, by calling 810-664-5921 or emailing to:

Howell serves as a municipal attorney for several Lapeer County governments, and is president of the Lapeer County Intermediate School District.

If elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, Howell said he will relinquish his other duties.

Editor's note: Other Republicans who have announced their candidacy for the 82nd District House seat include: John Stack, Randy St. Laurent, Paul St. Louis and Kevin Daley. The lone Democrat thus far is Bill Marquardt.

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