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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of January 12, 2017

By Judy Augenstein

The 99th Legislature opened on Wednesday, House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt and Minority Leader Sam Singh, D-East Lansing promised to work together and the new members appeared to appreciate that sentiment.

House Speaker Tom Leonard called for more civility and cooperation than in prior years.  "Friends, as we look back at the last election cycle that we had, it probably was one of the most uncivil in our nation's history, all the way from the federal to the local level," Leonard said.  "And I believe that over the next two years, the citizens of our state will not only want to see more civility in our political process, I believe they are going to demand it from us."  Issues Speaker Leonard stated he would like to address this session include mental health, teacher retirement reform, reducing health insurance rates and building the skilled trades workforce.

House Minority Leader Sam Singh, D-East Lansing seconded Leonard's nomination.  In the process, he proffered the bipartisan olive branch.  "There are many paths this chamber could take over the next two years.  My hope is that the next path will be one of bipartisanship," Singh said in his remarks.  He remarked that the Democratic caucus will be focusing on issues tied to the economy, investing in our infrastructure and improving education and training.

The first House Bill of the year was introduced by Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering.
HB 4001 would cut the current 4.25 percent income tax rate to 3.9 percent and then decrease the rate by 0.1 percentage point per year until it is eliminated.  Legislation to eliminate the requirement for an individual over 21 years old who can legally own a weapon to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  The package of bills, HB 4003, 4004, 4005 & 4006 were sponsored by Rep. Pete Lucido, R-Shelby Twp.. 

None of the bills were referred to committee because committees and committee memberships have not been set.  The Committee on Committee is charged with assigning 110 members to some 15 committee so membership does not conflict with the time/day of a legislator's other committee assignment.  A daunting task. 

The Senate held a much lower keyed session as they were not up for re-election and all members stayed the same.  Committee assignments and chairmen ships in the Senate will stay the same.  The Senate has been busy moving into their controversial new office building on Townsend Street.  The building has been named  the "Connie Binsfeld Building", in tribute to former House member, Senator and first woman Lt. Governor under Governor John Engler.  I had the privilege and honor of working with this fantastic lady.  She was the sponsor of our "critical roads" legislation to give areas with shoreline additional road monies.  That fund was put into effect in 1987, but has been raided over the years for other programs.

On Tuesday, January 17, Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his final State of the State address.

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