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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of July 29, 2015

by Judy Augenstein

Another week and no road deal.  This week there have been many conference calls between Governor Snyder and the "quadrant"---the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader in an effort to find a resolution in increased funding for roads. 

Both the House and Senate have passed competing road plans for increasing funding for the state's roads, but have not to date resolved their differences.  House Democrats proposed increasing the state's Corporate Income Tax and putting the increased funding into roads.  Since then, a number of labor unions announced a petition drive to put an issue on the ballot raising the CIT with the estimated $900 million raised to go back to the roads.

Governor Snyder has not expressed a preference for any proposal at this point, though he has said repeatedly the state will have to raise revenue to raise the money needed to bring the state's roads up to better grade.  He has said he opposes raising the CIT to fund roads. 

This week a number of business and interest groups in Lansing tossed around the idea of shrinking the size of the Legislature from a combined 149 to 105 members.  The group is discussing proposing a constitutional amendment in 2016 that would cut the 110 member House to 80 and the 38 member Senate to 25 after the next census in 2020. 

The idea is spawned from a feeling among those who deal with the Legislature that it has gotten unwieldy and difficult to deal with.  The current discussion does not include any type of reforms to the state's term limit law or the Legislature's full time status.  However, if the plan passed, the new Legislature would all fit in the current House Office Building without a need for the planned move to the Capitol View Building for the Senate.

The idea comes 10 days after Rep. Marilyn Howrylak, R-Troy introduced HJR Y, which would create a unicameral legislature, like Nebraska.  The single chamber would consist of 110 members, the current size of the House.  Former Speaker of the House Rick Johnson once suggested a smaller legislature as did former House member Ruth Johnson in 2001 and we know how far those efforts went.

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