Eight West Michigan legislators recently sat down for a roundtable forum hosted by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce to discuss current and upcoming policy issues.

State Representatives Chris Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Township), Thomas Albert (R-Grattan Township), Steven Johnson (R-Wayland), Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming), Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker) and Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) were joined by state Senators Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) and Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) at the chamber’s Breakfast with Legislators event last week.

Following a brief update from West Michigan Policy Forum Chair John Kennedy, the panel espoused on a range of topics, including proposed changes to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, the Good Jobs for Michigan package and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s recently announced proposal to switch to a part-time legislature. The panel roundly panned Calley’s proposal, with Afendoulis terming the plan “another page out of the book of bad ideas.”

The main tenets of Calley’s plan calls for limiting legislative sessions to 90 days, cutting legislative pay to equal the average salary for a teacher in Michigan — $30,937.50 for 90 days work — and banning legislative pensions and retiree health care. Calley announced his plan May 30 at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Afendoulis said if the state were to move to a part-time legislature without eliminating, extending or modifying term limits, it would lead to an ineffectual governing body already dealing with constant re-legislating of policies enacted several terms prior. He added the proposal would “minimize” the number of experienced candidates willing to dip their toe into politics.

Afendoulis’ colleagues at the table echoed his sentiment.

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