Michigan Legislative Update
Week of June 21, 2017
By Judy Augenstein
This week the Board of Canvassers did not rule on the form of the petition to make the Legislature part time at its meeting after Lt. Governor Brian Calley, the plan's key spokesperson, charged a member could have a conflict of interest. Calley said that in his testimony that he found out the night before that a member of the board could have a financial conflict of interest and thought it would be inappropriate for the board to choose a side. Though he never named the board member with alleged conflicts, Lt. Gov. Calley expressed concern the chair could have unseen influence even if he were to abstain. The board chair, former Senator Norm Shinkle, is a consultant for the Michigan Freedom Fund. Lt. Gov. Calley said the group vocally opposes a part-time legislature.
Mr. Shinkle said he was unaware during the meeting of whom Mr. Calley was accusing of having conflicts of interest. He said he was unaware of Michigan Freedom Fund's position on the issue. He said he has supported part-time legislatures since he was a senator in the 1980's, but wants "them to get it right". Senator Shinkle was a great legislator to work with and was the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee during his tenure in the Senate.
This week the House finished up work on the 2017-18 budget and also made changes to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS). The omnibus budget bill spends $39.9 billion, $8.55 billion General Fund. The education omnibus bill spends $16.61 billion overall, $1.5 billion General Fund and $13.18 billion School Aid Fund.
The House held session this week on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Senate held sessions with no voting Tuesday and Wednesday and on Thursday the Senate met to vote on specific bills. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to return on July 12 for a possible two day session. To be considered a full time Legislature under the Michigan Constitution, the House and Senate are required to meet at least one day every month of the year.
HB 4644, the multiple use permit, is finishing up action by the full House. Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, Chair, Senate Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on HB 4644 as soon as it gets referred to his committee.
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