jim ananich

Michigan lawmakers chose new leaders after the recent elections.
Matt Katzenberger / flickr.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers' first order of business after the election was picking new leaders.

Republicans on Thursday chose Arlan Meekhof to lead the Senate for the next four years. The 54-year-old from West Olive is best known for sponsoring one of Michigan's two right-to-work laws that made union fees voluntary.

Rep. Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant was chosen to be Speaker of the House. Al Pscholka of Stevensville also sought the speakership but dropped his bid in exchange for being named to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills will continue as House Democrats' leader. Senate Democrats picked Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint to succeed Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.  

In January, Republicans will have 63-47 and 27-11 edges in the House and Senate.

Sen. Arlan Meekhof, Michigan's next Senate Majority Leader.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, will be the new state Senate majority leader in 2015.

Republican senators chose Meekhof to replace term-limited Sen. Randy Richardville to lead their caucus.

Republicans will likely add one seat to their 26-12 majority in the Senate next year, although Democrats are considering a recount in one race.

Senate Democrats selected Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint as the next state Senate minority leader. He will replace term-limited Sen. Gretchen Whitmer.

Republican state Representatives will choose a new state House Speaker this afternoon.

Steve Carmody/Mchigan Radio

Genesee County voters choose a familiar face to serve them in the state senate.

Tuesday, voters elected Democrat Jim Ananich in a special election to fill the vacant 27th district seat.

State Representative Jim Ananich was expected to win in the Democratic leaning 27th state senate district.

He defeated Republican Robert Daunt, the same man he defeated in last year’s State House race to represent Flint in Lansing.   

Ananich picked up 75% of the vote.  Daunt received more than 20% of the votes cast.       

Liberatrian Robert Nicholls and Green Party candidate Bobby Jones split the rest.

Ananich replaces former state senator John Gleason, who stepped down after winning the Genesee County clerk’s election last fall.

Ananich will finish out Gleason’s unexpired term, which ends in 2014.

Voting sign
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

School bond issues dominate the ballot in most of Michigan.

For example, Kalamazoo voters are being asked to decide on a $62 million bond request. If voters give their OK, the district would spend most of the money on maintaining city school buildings.

There are a few elected offices on the ballot of note.

In Genesee County, voters are picking a new state senator. Former senator John Gleason stepped down after winning the Genesee County clerk’s election last fall.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State Representative Jim Ananich easily won Tuesday’s Democratic primary to fill a vacant state senate seat in the 27th district, which includes Flint.

Ananich collected 51% of the vote to defeat four other candidates in the Democratic primary. The 27th is a heavily Democratic district which likely means Tuesday’s primary win will mean Ananich will win the May special election. Still Ananich insists he won’t take his Republican opponent lightly.

Two Democratic state lawmakers are preparing legislation that would restore unemployment benefits cuts recently signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.  Snyder signed legislation to extend federal jobless benefits, but the bill also contained a provision shrinking state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks next year.  

Republicans lawmakers pushed for the jobless benefits cuts, saying it will reduce the burden on Michigan businesses, which pay into the state unemployment insurance pool. Jim Ananich is a state representative from Flint.   He’s introducing legislation to restore those benefits.  

“You know I’m hopeful that they will see the error of their ways and see that now is not a time to be taking money out of people’s pockets.”

Ananich hopes to introduce his bill next month.