MichMash: Michigan’s 102nd Congress starts the year introducing new proposals

Michigan Public Radio Network’s Colin Jackson joins MichMash to discuss the start of the new Michigan Legislature session.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi delivers a prayer during inauguration ceremonies, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi delivers a prayer during inauguration ceremonies, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

In this week’s MichMash, host Cheyna Roth talks with Michigan Public Radio Network’s Colin Jackson about Michigan Democrat’s priorities heading into their first term controlling the state House, Senate and governor’s seat, and what Michigan Republicans have to say about it.

In this episode:

  • Michigan Democrat’s top priorities heading in the 102nd Michigan Congress Session
  • Representative Andrew Beeler’s night spent in the Capitol building
  • New elections initiatives that could affect the 2024 election

There was bound to be drama as the 102nd Michigan State Legislature begins their session for the year, but no one could have predicted a sleepover in the Capitol building. Michigan Public Radio Network’s Colin Jackson sat down with Cheyna Roth to discuss the dramatic start to Michigan Democrat’s first term in power in almost forty years.

The proceedings got off to a rocky start, as the House Freedom Caucus, a group of Republican legislatures, voted against every measure proposed by Democrats including, appointment of House speaker and clerk.

“Some of the concerns they had there and why they did this was based around the House rules,” explains Jackson. “They released a press release earlier saying they were concerned that the speaker was going to get too much power. So that was one takeaway, just that instant opposition right away from a small group of Republicans.”

Republicans further accused Democrats of playing partisan games, since those who voted against the speaker did receive fewer committee appointments, and less influential ones.

State Democrats introduced their major goals they would like to address this term. Among those priorities are repealing the now unenforceable 1931 abortion ban, an expansion of the Elliott-Larsen civil rights act to include sexual and gender identities, and a repeal to the right to work policy which bans union dues from being a condition for employment. Democrats also plan to expand the earned income tax credit, which is an effort that shares bipartisan support.

While the Democrats set a lofty agenda, it remains to be seen how quickly these initiatives will be addressed.

“Some of those things, like I said, are pretty much on par with what we expected. The order and how quickly Democrats were going to move on those was still kind of up in the air,” says Jackson. “And we’re still not sure exactly how quickly some of these things will move, but those are the things the Democrats introduced so far.”

While the Democrats push for their priorities, Republican State Representative Andrew Beeler tried to get his item pushed to the top of the list. Beeler slept in the Capitol building so he could be the first representative to submit a bill to be read into session.

“Majority party usually introduces the first bill of the legislative session, which would typically go to the Republican party,” explains Jackson. “But since they are no longer in power Democrats are issuing the first bill.”

House Speaker Joe Tate went ahead and read in a democratic bill first, a proposal to eliminate retirement and pension taxes to the ire of his colleagues across the aisle.

“Republicans are accusing Tate of abusing the powers of speaker to jump ahead in line,” Jackson explains. “During a press conference later that afternoon, minority leader Matt Hall told reporters he believed the most organized party should be the one that got their bill in first.”

Despite these spats, Jackson is hopeful that the two parties will work together for the betterment of Michigan.

“So both parties are still talking about bipartisanship in these broad statements. You know minority leader Hall was the one who seconded the nomination for speaker Tate as speaker, and they have talked about having a friendship and a good relationship,” says Jackson. “They had their first quadrant meeting of all four leaders of the legislature, Republican and Democratic leaders and the governor yesterday. So, we’ll see what happens from this.”

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