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Michigan Legislative Update

February 2015

by Judy Augenstein

The next four years will be more about fitting programs to people than is current practice, Governor Rick Snyder said on January 1 after being sworn in for his second term. One priority of Snyder's is to have Michigan become a leader in encouraging students into career and technical education programs.

The Governor took the oath of office for the final time since term limits prevents him from seeking re-election. Snyder also said anyone thinking he will function like a "lame duck" does not know him. Snyder stated that Michigan needs to urge more students into skilled trades as the state works to improve education and wants Michigan to be the lead in the nation in skilled trades.

When the 148 legislators were sworn into office on Wednesday, January 14, there were 54 newbies. All coming to the Capitol with various levels of experience, hopes and aspirations for the next two years and an unambiguous philosophical bent. Republicans expanded their majorities with a 27-11 advantage in the Senate and a 63-47 advantage in the House.

Of the new members in the House and Senate, 34 are Republicans and 20 are democrats. There are teachers and doctors, truck drivers and deli owners, children or spouses of other elected officials and elected officials in their own communities. They are young and old, white, Asian, Hispanic, black, gay and straight, tea party conservatives and liberal progressives.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) commented that he is looking forward to leading his more conservative caucus. Cotter said "I appreciate debate and I know were are going to have a lot of it and we will be better for it. I am not looking for members who will simply follow me."

Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) will chair the Senate Transportation Committee and chair the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee. Representative Andrea LaFontaine (R-Columbus Township) will chair the House Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Pete Pettalia (R- Presque Isle) will chair the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

On January 15, Governor Rick Snyder vetoed SB 78, the biodiversity bill sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba). Snyder commented in his veto message that the bill "causes confusion and inconsistencies and could make it more difficult to sustainably manage Michigan's Public forests and world class natural resources to meet the changing needs of current and future generations."

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