Matthileo / Flickr

Republican state Representative Dave Agema introduced a bill yesterday that would amend the state's constitution to create a part-time legislature, rather than the full-time legislature that Michigan currently has.

The Associated Press calls it a, "long-shot" as efforts to make the legislature part-time have failed in the past. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry agrees. He says he doesn't think the bill will go anywhere.

The AP reports:

Advocates say it would save money and force lawmakers to be more efficient when conducting business at the state Capitol.

Peter Luke of Mlive.com explains:

Agema’s amendment would limit the Legislature, which convenes on the second Wednesday of every January, to 150 consecutive days of session. Budget bills would have to be completed by June 15; it’s now Sept. 30. Extra days could be scheduled, but only for extraordinary reasons that aren’t specified.

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his first State of the State address to a joint session of the state Legislature on Wednesday evening. Laura Weber is in Lansing and sent this report:

Governor Snyder is expected to focus his speech on Michigan’s economic future. But the governor is not expected to give specific plans for the state budget until next month. Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Hammel says he has not heard enough details yet from Snyder.

I mean, there’s been a whole lot of talk about moving Michigan forward, and not looking in the rearview mirror and reinventing Michigan, and I think that’s wonderful. We all feel that way. But we’re waiting for details before we can really react.

Snyder has said all areas of state government will be considered for further budget cuts to close a nearly $2 billion dollar estimated deficit.

UAW members head to D.C.

Jan 17, 2011

Members of the United Auto Workers union will be on Capitol Hill today in Washington, D.C.. Some 1,000 union members will be there for a four-day legislative meeting.  As the Associate Press reports:

They'll be hearing from UAW President Bob King on Monday on the start of the four-day conference. The Detroit News says King plans to talk about efforts to persuade non-U.S. automakers to make it easier to unionize their U.S. plants.

In a statement, the UAW said, those at the meeting will:

...discuss the union's legislative and political priorities for the coming year, meet with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of working families and prepare for the union's 2012 electoral campaign.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to speak at the conference.

Matthileo / Flickr

On the first day that Michigan lawmakers were allowed to submit legislative proposals, legislators in the state House introduced 85 bills and a half-dozen resolutions. As the Associated Press reports:

The first bill introduced Thursday would repeal a surcharge on the Michigan Business Tax. It's likely to pass as part of a broader, still-developing plan to reshape business taxes. Other proposals would repeal Michigan's mandatory motorcycle helmet law in some circumstances and eliminate caps on the number of charter schools.

State lawmakers began the 2011 legislative session on Wednesday by taking the oath of office and officially announcing new legislative leaders.

Waiting for the Governor

Jan 13, 2011

The new legislature convened for the first time yesterday, nearly two weeks after their terms began. They posed for pictures and elected officers. They officially announced who would have what positions on which committees.

These are all things that had been worked out days or weeks before. What then followed was sort of the equivalent of lining up their pencils and making sure they are sharpened.

To a great extent, they are waiting for the governor. That is to say, they are waiting for Rick Snyder to set forth his program and put forward his proposals for balancing the state budget.

Cedar Bend Drive / Flickr

Michigan lawmakers began the state's 96th legislative session yesterday in Lansing.  We take a quick look at what the headlines across the state have to say about the Legislature's first day:

During their first day in session, lawmakers took the oath of office and elected legislative leaders.

Cedar Bend Drive / Flickr

Michigan lawmakers return to Lansing this week. The new state legislature will be sworn in at the state Capitol. 

Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber filed this report from Lansing:

New and returning lawmakers will be greeted in Lansing by a nearly $2 billion budget deficit, and no new federal stimulus to help them fill the holes. Many new Republican lawmakers say they were elected to cut state spending and reduce the size of government. Republican leaders in both the House and Senate say local government revenue sharing could be on the line for deep cuts. The Legislature has several months to balance the budget. This week lawmakers will be sworn in, choose their seats on the floor, and establish rules of the chamber.

Matthileo / Flickr

Michigan's four new legislative leaders all sat down together yesterday for an interview.  The four include Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and Democratic House Minority Leader Rich Hammel.  The four are known as "The Quadrant."

In an interview on the public television program "Off the Record," the Legislature’s new Republican leaders said public employees and local governments will have to share in the pain of budget cuts to help address Michigan’s fiscal problems.

As Rick Pluta reports:

Richardville and Bolger said state employees will likely see reductions in their paychecks and benefits. The Democratic leaders said they want to work with Republicans, but will fight efforts to impose more cuts on public employees and local governments.

To find out more about the state's four new Legislative leaders check out Dome Magazine where columnist Susan Demas has a great profile of The Quadrant.

Kate Ebli

Former State Representative Kate Ebli died yesterday after a recurrence with breast cancer.

The Democrat served 56th District of Michigan (Monroe County) for two terms. She lost her bid for a third term in the November elections to Republican Dale Zorn.

The Monroe Democratic Party released a statement:

"We are extremely saddened with the news that State Representative Kate Ebli has lost her courageously fought battle with cancer. It is a sad day for Kate's family and also for everyone that knew her."

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Leaders in the state legislature have called lawmakers back to the Capitol today for a final meeting of this year's legislative session. The news comes after lawmakers had called it quits earlier this month. As Laura Weber of the Michigan Public Radio Network reports, lawmakers have to go back to Lansing to correct a few procedural mistakes from the earlier lame-duck session:

The state Senate has a few bills sent back from the House for final approval, including a measure that would lower the minimum age for blood donation from 17 to 16. The House also needs to meet Wednesday to approve a resolution to adjourn for the year. But it's unclear if enough lawmakers can be wrangled on short notice to return to the state Capitol to vote.

And, as The Associated Press reports:

Lawmakers might enroll and send to Gov. Jennifer Granholm legislation allowing sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf site in Flint to a developer who wants to redevelop the property and keep the school open. Bills that would regulate billboards for sexually oriented businesses are among the others that need final approval or procedural votes before they can be sent to Granholm.

It doesn't appear that either chamber will take up controversial measures including teacher-tenure reform or insurance for autism treatments.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston/Flickr

Well, it appears that state lawmakers aren't quite done with this year's lame duck legislative session.

It's been announced that both the Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate will convene at the state Capitol tomorrow.  The news comes after lawmakers declared their two-year session was done on December 3rd.

However, the Associated Press reports, that neither chamber is expected to take up any controversial issues:

The House is expected to deal with legislation cracking down on human trafficking and a few other issues. The Senate will deal with bills that can't be sent to GovernorJennifer Granholm because they didn't get an immediate effect vote or because they were changed by the House. Lawmakers aren't expected to take up insurance coverage for autism, teacher tenure rules or other sensitive subjects that were left unaddressed before adjourning earlier this month.

Capitol Building, Lansing
Terry Johnston/Flickr

It's expected that the debate over whether insurance companies should be required to cover autism treatments for children will continue at the state Capitol next year.

Legislation that would have required insurance companies to cover autism treatments stalled in the GOP-led state Senate in the final hours of the 2009-2010 legislative session.

Republican Lieutenant Governor-elect Brian Calley has an autistic daughter.  He's been one of the most vocal proponents of the reforms.  Calley said:

Eventually the facts will catch up with the decision-makers and this will happen. I plan to advocate for this starting immediately next year and help education the incoming members, the new members, on this issue, and find a solution for the 15,000 families in Michigan that are struggling through this right now.

Calley said he hopes leaders in next year’s Republican-controlled House and Senate will approve the reforms.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

A bill approved today in the state House would allow the Detroit Institute of Arts to ask taxpayers for more money. The Associated Press reports the bill would:

...allow counties to form authorities that could ask voters for property taxes to fund arts institutes... The property taxes would have to be approved by voters in the region to take effect. Art institute authorities could ask for up to 0.2 mills.

The bill now heads to Governor Granholm for her signature. The state Senate already approved the measure.

Capitol Building, Lansing
Terry Johnston/FLICKR

Michigan lawmakers continue their 'lame duck' session in Lansing today and they're still trying to figure out the last pieces of legislation to pass before the 2009-2010 session comes to a close.

The Associated Press reports:

It's a safe bet lawmakers will pass a bill to distribute more than $300 million in federal money to schools. But... bills dealing with teacher tenure, fireworks sales, insurance coverage for autism treatments and dozens of other items could be voted on before the Legislature adjourns at the end of the week.

Bill Ballenger, the editor and publisher of the "Inside Michigan Politics" newsletter told Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta earlier this week that, "The chances of getting all of it done are slim."

Capitol Building in Lansing
Terry Johnson/Flickr

State lawmakers return to the Capitol in Lansing this week as the 2009-2010 legislative session comes to a close.

Both the state House and Senate are scheduled to be in session.

The Associated Press reports:

Lawmakers might finalize a plan to distribute more than $300 million in federal money to Michigan schools.  It's not clear if lawmakers will agree on a way to raise more money for the state's Pure Michigan tourism advertising program.

Terry Johnson/FLICKR

Lawmakers at the state Capitol continued to choose legislative leaders yesterday. In the Senate: Republican state Senator Randy Richardville of Monroe was elected as the next Senate Majority Leader.

State Senator Randy Richardville
Photo courtesy of www.senate.michigan.gov

It appears that Republican state Senator Randy Richardville, who represents Michigan's 17th Senate District, will be the state's next Senate Majority Leader.  On it's Facebook page, the Gongwer News Service says, "Richardville is assured election... as incoming Senator John Pross will drop out of the race."  

Photo courtesy of www.senate.mi.gov/whitmer

Democratic state Senator Gretchen Whitmer will be Michigan's next Senate Minority Leader. Whitmer's fellow Democratic Senators elected her to the position yesterday. She'll be the first woman to hold the job. She became a state Senator in 2006.  Before that, she was as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006.

The Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Great Recession has meant tough times for state governments. Michigan has been hit extra hard and leaders in the state have been fighting over a shrinking budget for several years.  These budget battles have led to brief government shutdowns in years past. But with the new fiscal year starting October 1st, leaders in the state seem to have resolved their differences.