Politics
5:40 pm
Thu July 7, 2011

Social issues and Michigan politics (audio)

It's been a very busy legislative year in Michigan. There’s a new tax code, teacher tenure reform, and a new state budget. But across the country, social issues have been major legislative topics, but not so much in this state.

In our weekly political discussion Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The primary focus, so far, has been on jobs and the budget according to Demas who says social issues have snuck into legislative talks.

"With the budget, the gay partner benefit issue held up the process for several days with House Republicans trying to get some provisions in that would penalize universities that offer domestic partner benefits. And committees have been doing work on abortion issues, particularly the so-called partial birth abortion issue."

Sikkema says staying away from social issues has been in part a political strategy, but he says Governor Snyder has some challenges ahead.

"How does he keep the focus on the issues he wants to focus on rather than some of the social issues that are going to be divisive inside the Republican camp."

Sikkema and Demas say social issues will come up more in the fall after the legislature comes back from summer break.

-Mercedes Mejia, Michigan Radio News