Opinion | Michigan’s lame duck session is why voters hate politics

Sarah Anthony is a Democratic state representative for Michigan’s 68th House District, which covers part of Lansing and Lansing Township.

Dec. 21: That's a wrap! What bills passed, died in Michigan lame duck for the ages
Related: See what Michigan lame-duck bills we're tracking

When I stepped foot on the House floor for my first session day, I braced myself for a typical lame duck session: farewell speeches, a record high number of votes, and partisan interactions. Now, a mere nine session days later, I see behavior that goes beyond partisanship and instead reflects a commitment to power and influence above all else.

This is not partisanship as usual. On the campaign trail, I heard from countless men and women of all ages who decided to get involved this election because they had had enough. They joined together with neighbors, family members, and even strangers to mobilize their community and create change from the ground up. I refuse to sit back in silence while so many of my colleagues move to subvert the democratic process and oppress their voices — the very voices of the people of Michigan we have vowed to represent.

Related: Michigan power grabs, pipelines and pot: What we’re tracking in lame duck
Dec. 19: School grades, toxic waste and dark money: Your Michigan lame duck roundup

Over the last few years, I have heard many of my colleagues and mentors reminisce on the days before term-limits, when public officials felt they had the time and political leeway to focus on building relationships across the aisle and working on comprehensive solutions to the biggest challenges facing the people of our state. They lament that we have lost civility in state government. Yet in my first weeks of serving as your state representative, it is not the lack of civility or decency between legislators that concerns me. What truly troubles me is that many of my new colleagues are not showing decency or civility to the people of Michigan.

Over the last two weeks, the Republican majority gutted citizen-initiated laws enacted in September to increase the minimum wage and guarantee paid sick time. They are attempting to water down three ballot initiatives that won the popular vote in November, and have fast-tracked bills to limit the powers of the newly-elected attorney general, secretary of state, and governor. A flurry of other legislation has been put forward, bills that would reduce protections for the environment, limit your access to health care, and take away workers’ rights. The legislation being put forward is no less important than bills introduced and passed throughout the term of the 99th Legislature, but they are being rammed through the process faster than any other bills this session — with less debate, consideration, and opportunity for public comment.

I am not naïve enough to believe lame duck will ever be free from partisanship, especially in a year reflecting a change of the party in power. However, there are a few things in which I will always continue to believe, no matter how many terms I have served. I believe in putting the needs of your constituents above pressure from your political party, and in respecting the democratic process and the ideals behind a representative government. I believe we can disagree on policy and still come to the table with respect and integrity. Finally, I believe that ordinary people should always have the opportunity to fight for what is right and to change what is wrong with our government.

To my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and to those who will serve with me in the 100th Legislature, please help me put an end to the most destructive lame duck in recent memory and commit to maintaining respect and civility in our state government.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission.

If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Monica WilliamsClick here for details and submission guidelines.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Kevin Grand
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 7:28am

Crocodile tears?

Really, Rep. Anthony?

Certainly you can do better than that?

For someone as well versed in politics as you claim to be, do you really need a lesson on how much money from donors like Steyer, Bloomberg and Soros are really behind these "citizen-initiated" proposals?

And citing the tired canard of term-limits, I'm still waiting to see how all of that collective experience in Washington has produced anything demonstrability better than Lansing?

Michigan has already seen what the democrats have done when given the reins of political power. They have utterly destroyed Detroit City Government (a visit to most of the neighborhoods outside of the Downtown Area will easily confirm this), devastated the Detroit Public School system and to this day both remain a constantly ticking fiscal time-bomb due to their 'leadership".

I will be more than happy to provide other Michigan Cities under the leadership of democrats that have suffered similar fates.

On a macro scale, we can see what will happen on a state-level in Illinois and California, which are also on an inevitable financial collapse.

If your idea for "fighting for what is right" means that everyone should be brought down to the same miserable level, I certainly hope that your plans spectacularly fail in the 100th.

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 9:04am

It's troubling that you don't know enough about the present or the past to make your claims, but hey, why let the truth get in the way of the narrative?

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 10:54am

So Bones, your understanding is that neither Detroit nor DPS collapsed financially and or they were both run by Republicans not Democrats?

Abe bubush
Thu, 12/20/2018 - 9:08am

Republicans destroyed GM. Ripped off the public for tax breaks (which is now synonymous with "tax breaks for the wealthy" of which you are not. Republican indictments mean they are either criminals or not smart enough to get away with it.

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 8:05pm

Sometimes there is so much stupidity to even know where to begin, I must congratulate you.

Ed Haynor
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 2:51pm

Although I too comment from time to time on Bridge articles and opinions, I think Mr. Grand should take some time off. It’s really tiring to read his repetitive comments on so many Bridge articles and opinions where he takes the stand that republicans can do no wrong and democrats or even independents can do no right. One has to wonder where Mr. Grand gets all the time for his diatribe. Of course, maybe he’s unemployed or works for a right-wing organization and is getting paid for his submittals.

I realize Bridge Magazine screens commentary to prevent spamming, but Bridge should also consider limiting the number of times persons can offer comments, since it appears Mr. Grand and some others, do most of the commenting/rebutting. Although I do believe in free speech, reading the same o' same o' from Mr. Grand, detracts from important article and opinion submissions, where thoughtful responses to an author’s submissions/proposals, I'm sure, would be much appreciated from readers.

I believe that Rep. Anthony submitted timely and accurate opinions on what’s wrong with Michigan’s lame duck that would appear to be in the best interest of Michigan citizens. Otherwise, as time goes on, lame duck is liable to get worse. Continuous one-sided hastily written legislation coming out of Lansing from any political party affects all Michigan citizens, which I believe was the major point Rep. Anthony was trying to make.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 7:04pm

Very well, Mr. Haynor, then I pose the very same question to you that I posed to the Representative: How has term limits made the happenings in Washington DC any better than they are up in Lansing? I would be very interested to hear your response given Friday's deadline.

If you've read my comments as often as you claim, please feel free to cite the number of times that I've supported Schuette? While you're at it, please tell me how many times I've taken issue with the UST or LPM?

And, if you take issue with my comments, then feel free to sit down at your keyboard and refute what I've written. "Same 'o same 'o" should be exceedingly simple for you rebut.

I travel quite a bit. I speak to people from out-of-state as well. It's very informative to get an outside perspective from just more than one state. They tell me of similarly lofty sentiments echoed by elected officials made not that long ago, and what that has brought upon their home (and formerly home) states.

I don't care to see Michigan destroyed economically by people making the same soaring promises that others have previously made. We've already gone through one "Lost Decade" already.

Your response?

Ed Haynor
Thu, 12/20/2018 - 9:36am

Mr. Grand, thanks for making my case.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 12/20/2018 - 6:07pm

Not even going to make an attempt to refute any of my points?

Thank you for making MY case, Mr. Haynor.

Ed Haynor
Fri, 12/21/2018 - 11:09am

I don’t care to get into a discharging waste contest with a mephitidae or a narcissist.

Kevin Grand
Sat, 12/22/2018 - 7:14am

I like to read as much as the next person, but why don't you do yourself a favor and Instead of looking at a thesaurus to come up with arguments to use against me, why not do a little homework and actually cite some specific comments that I've made of what you're accusing me of doing?

I realize that facts are a scary concept for you, but you only make your position look more and more preposterous by avoiding to use them.

Mitchell Robinson
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 4:45pm

Congratulations. It's not easy to be completely wrong on every point you try to make, but you did it.

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 7:49pm

Even when we try to talk about working together to solve problems. We still have individuals who don’t see the big picture.

Ade Baumgardner
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 9:16pm

The Koch brothers, DeVos and Chamber of Commerce are your parties big spenders who lost and now are crying that the people said we want a change. Tough luck and suck it up.

Ralph Hansen
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 8:47am

Here's an idea.
Any legislation introduces after the election and during lame duck session would require a 2/3
majority to pass.
Maybe a citizen lead ballot proposal in the making?

Bryan L. Crenshaw
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 9:08am

A great overview of the destructive process that is occurring during the Lame Duck session. There has to be limits put into place for the future that only allows bills that were introduced prior to the session to be considered. This fly by night introduce a bill and it gets voted on days later does not allow the public to have a say in the process.

Having worked in State Goverment and staffing house and senate sessions, I have seen this process first hand. Passing legislation in early morning hours after a long day of session is a recipe for disaster.

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 9:08am

Oh, that explains it. I thought people hated politics because no matter what someone proposes to benefit the American people, the other party will turn it down because they hate the other party. That, or they throw too much other junk in a bill so it never gets passed and then they can say the other party is against funding the military or hates seniors or whatever.
Kind of what she's saying but it goes both ways.

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 10:21am

It is way past time for fake news laments like this one about the so-called evil big funders behind citizen-initiated petitions. I was one of the thousands of citizens who circulated petitions for Prop 2. over 425,000 valid signatures were secured entirely by volunteers in just 100 days. I volunteered countless hours to get it passed, as did thousands of people from all around Michigan.

Ordinary citizens circulated petitions to provide for sick leave and an increase in the minimum wage, only to see the legislature completely gut them. Voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing recreational marijuana and an update to Michigan's outdated voting laws. Now the legislature is trying to undercut the voters' will on all three ballot proposals to undermine the clear will of the people.

This is NOT what democracy should look like. The current "shame duck" session is an embarrassment and a disgrace. Our elected officials have made it clear that they do not work for us and that they don't want to listen to us. It is time to eliminate lame duck sessions entirely. If the legislature won't initiate this process, I wouldn't be surprised if petitions start circulating so that the people can vote to end lame duck sessions altogether.

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 11:14am

Is there any limit on what questions that the voters should be able or expected to vote on? Seems the answer to this question among most Bridge readers depends on whether they favor the ballot proposal or not.

Keith Nelson
Wed, 12/19/2018 - 3:44pm

I'm 100% for disclosing who campaign funding comes from. It isn't charitable giving. Let the people see and decide what they decide. I'm against gerrymandering and voter suppression regardless of who does it. It threatens democracy. Republicans lost the governorship, attorney general and Secretary of State and the ballot proposals passed because the clear majority have had enough and voted to change. I'm all for bipartisan governance and negotiated compromise that serves the best interests of all people. That hasn't been happening. It's time to change.

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 7:43pm

Thank you for show of respect to the citizens of Michigan

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 7:44pm

Thank you for show of respect to the citizens of Michigan

Karen Joseph
Thu, 12/20/2018 - 7:46am

How about proposing legislation to end Lame Duck legislation?

Richard Colony
Thu, 04/11/2019 - 5:44am

The author of this article at least did not attack the outgoing legislators as if they some how were not allowed to do anything on issues that were approved or rejected in last ballot initiatives. Some "news" articles right after the election overtly or covertly expressed the opinion that they should not do that. They had every right to do that, as their term did not end with the election it goes until the change over date as expressed in the law. I will defend the right of lawfully elected for a specified term to enact whatever they can pass, no matter whether I agree or disagree with what they might do.