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Stateside: An unusually active lame duck session

Dec 13, 2012

There is an abundance of political action in this year’s lame duck session.

Bill Ballenger of “Inside Michigan Politics” and Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry spoke with Cyndy about the recent legislature coming out of the Capitol.

According to Lessenberry there were several reasons for right-to-work being passed.

“The legislature will be marginally more Democratic next time. Some of the people who were voting are people who aren’t coming back. It was a campaign year and some of the stuff that might have gotten done earlier didn’t get done,” said Lessenberry.

“Legislators have been working on a lot of these bills for a year and a half,” said Ballenger.

Ballenger noted the role of partisan politics in the lame duck session.

“Right-to-work has dominated the headlines in the last week. The fact that the Governor finally came out with a statement saying, ‘Okay, it is on my agenda.. ,’ broke a log-jam on a lot of other stuff. If he didn’t give the go-sign on that, maybe a lot of other things that he really wanted weren’t going to happen. He realized he needed the Republican majority votes more than he needed Democratic support. There’s hardly anything happening with bipartisan support. Everything is heavily partisan and it’s tilted in the Republicans’ favor. They have their biggest majority in the State House since right after World War II,” said Ballenger.

According to Ballenger, the Governor never fully opposed right-to-work legislature.

“The Governor, in my view, has never been unalterably opposed to right-to-work. He realized this thing was going to be extremely divisive and if it came up early in the session it would get in the way of a bunch of other stuff… and he held out until the bitter end. A number of forces impelled him to make the statement of supporting right-to-work,” said Ballenger.

“Certainly on the transit package he was a leader. Some of us are going to be very curious to see what the Governor does with these abortion bills- there are two bills still in the legislature and there are two parts of bills having to do with Blue Cross,” said Lessenberry.

By aligning himself with the far-right, Lessenberry said Snyder’s reelection may have been complicated.

“In terms of his reelection prospects, he should try to present the image that he is still somewhat standoffish about the right wing in his own party and he’s more of a moderate person…I think he’ll sign these abortion bills,” said Ballenger.

“He knows that Republicans are no longer competitive in Michigan in presidential elections. If he comes across as a hard-right guy, it’s going to be a much harder path to reelection than if he’s seen as a moderate,” said Lessenberry.

Both guests concluded by assessing the long-term impacts of the Governor’s decision to sign the legislation.

“Nothing is going to satisfy the opponents of right-to-work. You could have hearings and they’d still be angry and oppose the legislation, and the majority, in this case the Republicans, realized that the longer it was dragged out the more difficult it would be to pass it,” said Ballenger.

“There may be residual bitterness over right-to-work. This Governor has a child-like faith that business will create jobs if given the right conditions. If by 2014 there is no real evidence of that, he might pay a price. But no one is going to remember how this stuff was shoved through by 2014, I’m afraid,” said Lessenberry.

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