Hall’s power sharing proposal ignored as Michigan House and Senate officially adjourn for 2023
A little bit of flash, but not a lot of bang, officially ended the Michigan Legislature’s session on Tuesday.
While Thursday was the final day this year that lawmakers voted on bills, Tuesday officially marked the end of the 2023 legislative year, as both the Democratic-led House and Senate adjourned sine die at noon, as had been expected. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some parting political shots on the way out.
While no senators addressed the chamber before it was gaveled out on schedule by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who serves as the Senate president, the Michigan House was a different story. Prior to adjournment, Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) introduced a proposed resolution that would require a power-sharing agreement when there are an even number of Republicans and Democrats.
While that will soon be the case after state Reps. Lori Stone (D-Warren) and Kevin Coleman (D-Westland) won their respective mayoral elections last week and will have to resign their positions, the 54-54 tie that creates is expected to only be temporary until special elections are held in their two districts, both Democratic strongholds.
Regardless, Hall says bipartisan collaboration should be the standard when the House reconvenes in January.
“The balance of power in the House of Representatives is a call to bipartisanship, and Michigan legislators on both sides of the aisle should answer the call and find common ground,” said Hall. “We should start by crafting a bipartisan power-sharing agreement, and we can work together to get results for our state. We can protect taxpayers by charting a more accountable, responsible path forward on economic development. We can protect Michigan students by approving the bipartisan school safety and mental health plan. And we can help people drive to work and school by determining how to invest our resources to repair local roads and bridges. House Republicans are focused on Michiganders’ priorities. We hope Speaker Tate and House Democrats will join us.”
Tate spokesperson Amber McCann did not immediately return a request for comment.
However, Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) made clear last week that House rules keep Democrats in control. Those rules, passed by majority Democrats when they took control of the House in January, specify that there would need to be 55 elected Democrats and 55 elected Republicans for a power-sharing agreement to be necessitated.
Hall’s resolution removes that number and simply states that if, “the number of members duly elected and serving as Democrats is equal to the number of members duly elected and serving as Republicans … then the House of Representatives shall enter into a shared power agreement.”
In a press release Tuesday, Hall said the agreement “could be ended at any time by a majority of the House in a record roll call vote.” But after submitting the resolution on Monday, Hall says Tate “refused to read the resolution in during the final session Tuesday.”
Hall wasn’t the only dissatisfied House Republican on Tuesday.
Rep. Jaime Greene (R-Richmond) expressed her disappointment that rather than act as a full-time legislature, Democrats decided to “pack up the gavel and go home,” referring to the legislative session ending before December.
Specifically, Greene said she would have liked to vote on a bipartisan school safety plan package, which was introduced the day after the deadly Feb. 13 shooting on Michigan State University’s East Lansing campus where three students were killed. The package would outline avenues to address mental health needs within schools, require schools to update safety plans on a regular basis and expand ways students, educators and staff can report suspicious or threatening behavior. The package did not address gun reform.
“I don’t ever want to hear anybody say, ‘F your hopes and prayers ever again, because our hopes and prayers was a lot more than what we did for school safety this year,’” Greene said, in an apparent reference to a statement from Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) after the MSU shooting.
“We had a bipartisan school safety package that we could have passed in all of that legislation that happened the last two weeks. Did we do that? No. So I would take hopes and prayers any day over nothing done at all,” Greene continued.
Democrats’ response to the MSU shooting was instead to push through historic gun reform legislation that instituted universal background checks for all gun sales in Michigan, added a “red flag” law with a process for taking away guns from those who might be a threat to themselves or others, and required safe storage of firearms and ammunition.
While the last time the Michigan Legislature adjourned before December was in 1968, both chambers still clocked more days in session this year than in 2022 when Republicans were in charge of both chambers. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan House was in session for 97 days in 2023, but only 88 last year, while the Michigan Senate was in session 100 days this year and just 82 in 2022.