MichMash: Making ‘Boring Bills’ Sexy Again

Just because they don’t get coverage doesn’t mean they’re not important.

Michigan State Capitol

Michigan State Capitol building.

WDET Digital

State lawmakers return to Lansing next week for a whopping two weeks of action before heading back out on the campaign trail before the November election.

With that election just weeks away, there’s little chance the Legislature will take up any controversial measures during that time.

But “just because they don’t get coverage doesn’t mean they’re not important,” says WDET’s Jake Neher of the legislation that is not so headline-grabbing.

As part of their weekly series MichMash, Neher and Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth tackle the issue of so-called “boring bills.”

Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.

Maybe you’re like most Michiganders and you have zero knowledge or recollection of the state House’s overwhelming, bi-partisan approval of bills modifying the “definition of railroad train, train, and other on-track equipment” or providing for general amendments to fishing regulations. This is certainly not the stuff of divisive, bravado-filled floor speeches or talking head punditry. 

But these bills are more representative of the work that happens on a daily basis in the state Capitol.

OK. So why is it important to talk about this?

It shows that the real work of government isn’t as divisive and chaotic as we sometimes think

“When we think about all of the controversy, all of the division, I think it begets division in a lot of ways,” says Neher. “Voters, people who are not here on a day-to-day basis get this sense of politics as this really contentious thing. Whereas, most of the time, there are a lot of things that everyone on each side of the aisle agrees on.”

That’s not to take away from the fact that deep divisions and disagreements do exist that touch on some of the most important issues that we face as a state.

“But it does paint a different picture once you consider that we agree on a lot of the things that need to be done — in fact, a vast majority of the things,” he says.

No bill is too small or ‘boring’ to put in front of your state lawmaker

If you have an issue in your community that you think needs action in the state Legislature, don’t think it’s too small for that venue.

“Time and time again we see bills coming through the Legislature that were inspired by somebody calling their local lawmaker and saying, ‘This is a problem in our community, can you help us solve it?’ and it gets passed through and it works,” she says.

“And I think that is a great way to not only get involved in state politics but to make your community better.”


  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.
  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.