More unicameral stuff: a response to Mr. Glass
December 16, 2009 - I wish to respond to Chris Glass' letter to the editor regarding last week's column about my support for dissolving the Michigan State Senate.
First of all, it is absolutely false that changing to a unicameral legislature would require a state constitutional convention.. All that is required is for state residents to vote on a constitutional amendment regarding the issue of eliminating Michigan's 38 senators.
In 2006, a grassroots group based in Hastings, Michigan launched an unsuccessful petition drive to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that, if approved, would have changed the state's legislature from bicameral to unicameral.
I wrote a column back then supporting the idea.
Ultimately, the effort failed because the group didn't collect enough signatures to place it on the ballot, not because there needed to be a constitutional convention.
As a historical note, when Nebraska converted to a unicameral legislature in 1937, it did so following a vote of the people in 1936.
Secondly, far from taking "cheap shots" at state Rep. Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion), I was actually trying to offer him a good campaign issue that would separate him from other candidates.
How often have you heard of a politician running for office so he can divest himself of power or put himself out of a job? Such a campaign would not only be unique, it would be refreshing. Imagine someone running for office who's not concerned with their own job security or advancing their career. Elected office should not be a career.
Contrary to what Mr. Glass' asserts, the current bicameral legislature does not offer any sort of a guarantee whatsoever that there will definitely be checks and balances.
There's nothing written in stone that says the Republicans will always control one chamber and the Democrats the other one. One party could easily gain a majority in each and take control of both. In fact, single-party rule is the norm.
Right now, there's one-party rule of both legislative chambers in 41 states. As of the November 2008 election, the Democrats control both legislative chambers in 27 states and the GOP controls both in 14 states.
Prior to the Democrats taking control of the Michigan House in 2006, the GOP controlled both chambers for eight straight years.
Without a second chamber, the checks and balances upon a unicameral legislature would be maintained in the usual ways such as through the state Supreme Court and governor ruling on and vetoing measures deemed improper.
With their right to vote and petition, the people would also continue to serve as a check upon the possible abuse of power by elected officials.
Yes, Mr. Glass is correct that the current GOP-controlled state Senate has stopped the Democratic-controlled House on a number of issues, but I'm not looking at this through the narrow vision of partisan-colored glasses, which says I should support a system because it currently benefits my party.
I frankly don't care about political parties anymore.
Just as when children grow up they stop believing in monsters and fairies, intelligent adults should follow suit as they grow older and stop believing in Republicans and Democrats.
To me, there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two major parties. Both want and give us more and more government, they just differ on the degree, the cost and the rhetoric.
My sole interest is dramatically reducing the size and scope of government, period. Government is the problem, the virulent disease, the ravenous beast that must be slain.
My support for a unicameral legislature is a constructive idea in that I truly believe less government ultimately helps lead to economic success.
Plus, the last time I checked, Michigan needed more ways to cut spending without cutting essential services, so I would argue eliminating an entire layer of useless government is a "real idea" to help turn this state around.
Why not get rid of some legislators – the alleged people who do nothing but create more laws, approve more taxes, spend more money and provide all-too-willing hosts for parasitic lobbyists.
As it is, we have too many lawmakers in this state.
Michigan has 148 state lawmakers to govern about 10 million people, while California has 120 state legislators for a population of about 38 million. Michigan also has the second-highest paid state legislators in the nation.
I think our 110-member House is more than enough legislature for the Wolverine state. I would even be in favor of eliminating some representatives in that chamber as well.
I do agree with Mr. Glass that making the legislature part-time is a wise idea.
A part-time unicameral legislature would save us a ton of money – even more than just firing the senate.
I thank Mr. Glass for writing the newspaper and appreciate his participation in the free exchange of ideas – one of the things that makes this nation the greatest on earth.
Note: I wish to thank the Rotary Club of Oxford for inviting me to be its guest speaker last week. I very much enjoyed the experience and was extremely flattered by all the compliments I received from the audience.
The Rotarians are certainly gracious hosts and I encourage others with something to say to contact the club about speaking. The guy in charge of arranging speakers is Joe Bullen and his phone number is (248) 628-2244.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.