Michigan Legislature’s Dem majority to adjourn for year over GOP objections
- Legislative resolution introduced Thursday sets legislative adjournment date for next Tuesday, though Thursday is last scheduled session
- A temporarily tie in the House and a looming presidential primary factored into the Democrats’ decision
- Republicans panned the move for a body that normally works well into December, saying the people’s business is being ignored
Michigan Democrats on Thursday confirmed what had been called by leadership Lansing’s “worst-kept secret,” introducing a resolution to adjourn the Legislature early for the year, a move blasted by Republicans as shirking important public work.
The resolution, introduced in the House by Rep. Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck, states that the Legislature will adjourn without an official return date on Nov. 14, though Thursday is anticipated to be the body’s last day in session. Typically, the Legislature works well into December.
Democrats, who currently control both legislative chambers, had widely been expected to adjourn early for the year, though Thursday’s resolution was its first official confirmation. The House, in particular, faced a unique scenario after Tuesday's mayoral elections, where two southeast Michigan Democratic representatives won local mayoral races, which will remove them from state office and set up the House for a 54-54 tie.
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A deadline to finalize Democratic National Committee plans to move up the state’s presidential primary also gave Democrats incentive to wrap up fall priorities by mid-November or punt them to next year.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, said legislative Democrats have “tried to find ways to get things across the finish line” and will continue to do so into the next year.
“We're going to continue to do the work that we've been doing all year, putting people first,” Tate said.
Republicans were less enthused about the prospect of closing up shop early. On Thursday, a spokesperson for House Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, passed out candy canes labeled with priorities the GOP caucus wished they could get to before the holiday season, including setting up legislative ethics committees, getting funding for roads and bridges and protecting an income tax cut.
In a recent floor speech, Sen. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, said an early shutdown will allow the executive branch to “go unchecked for a period of time.” A group of House Republicans introduced a separate resolution calling for lawmakers to end the session in late December as usual.
“I drive to Lansing swerving potholes and hearing from local residents tired of blackouts and failing schools,” Rep. Donni Steele, R-Orion Township, said in a statement. “Adjourning nearly two months early instead of working through complex issues and oversight is a complete waste of state resources. We need to stay here and do the people’s work.”
Democrats in the House and Senate have pushed through a slew of priorities in recent weeks while they still have an outright majority in both chambers. This week, Dems cleared legislation on constitutional requirements to enact financial disclosure for lawmakers; passed energy bills to set more aggressive renewable energy standards, and changed the permitting process for approving sites for wind and solar energy projects.
But other party priorities will likely be set aside for now, including paid family leave, a prescription drug affordability board, reforms to Michigan’s large-scale business incentives and stricter cleanup standards for industrial polluters.
An effort to expand Michigan’s public records laws to include the governor and the Legislature was also put on ice for the year.
Both chambers remained in session as of Thursday morning.
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