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Lansing Charter Commission sets November 2025 deadline for voter approval

A photo displaying five members of the city charter commission in front of a podium, with the Lansing city seal and flags behind them.
Arjun Thakkar
A photo from the commission's first meeting on May 21.

The Lansing City Charter Commission plans to have a new set of governing rules ready for voters to approve by November 2025.

The group, which is responsible for taking community feedback and proposing changes to Lansing’s charter, approved a timeline for the process this week.

Commissioners grouped their work under three phases: taking input and reviewing the current charter, drafting a revised version of the document and educating voters after putting a draft on the ballot.

Over the next few months, the commission is embarking on that first phase to review each section of the charter and hold listening sessions at community centers in each of the city’s four wards.

“We will have different people throughout our city who are going to have more interest, concerns [and] bring us really relevant information," said Commissioner Joan Bauer.

The charter commission could enact a variety of governance changes in the Capital City, like shifting when elections occur and restructuring the city’s form of government. The commission has until the end of 2026 to revise the charter, and they can put drafts up for voter approval up to three times.

The group is continuing to develop its outreach strategy for engaging with the public, including a proposal to mail 48,000 informational sheets to households with a registered voter. Residents can also give public comment, which is limited to three minutes at the beginning of each meeting.

As part of the process, some commissioners want to get comments from "stakeholders" that they believe have an important voice in the process. A list from a previous meeting included current and former elected officials, business and labor leaders and groups that represent marginalized communities.

Commissioners suggested these groups may be given extended time to present their thoughts, prompting frustration from Lansing City Councilmember Ryan Kost, who criticized that certain speakers would be given special attention.

"Respectfully, that's bull****," Kost said at the meeting, reading from a letter he wrote earlier this month. "These groups can have three minutes right here like the rest of us. They don't deserve any more time, they've already messed the city up enough."

"I respectfully remind you that we, the people of Lansing, voted for change, not just a few words and grammar fixes," he added.

At its next meeting, the Lansing Charter Commission will consider allowing more public comment at the end of its sessions. The group also adopted a policy to guide a possible informational Facebook page and planned the selection process for an independent attorney at its next meeting in July.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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