LANSING (AP) — The state Legislature is in its final week of the lame duck session before the holiday break.
Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature raced Wednesday to pass bills in the final days of a contentious lame-duck session, as the fate of several key bills hung in the balance before newly elected Democrats take over top offices in January.
The GOP will continue to control the House and Senate next term but will no longer have Republican Rick Snyder in the governor’s office, making this postelection period crucial to enacting legislation — some already signed by Snyder — that could face resistance from Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer.
Lawmakers also were scrambling to pass less partisan legislation by Thursday, the last scheduled day of the session.
A look at where things stand:
CAMPAIGN FINANCE OVERSIGHT
A Senate-backed attempt to strip incoming Democratic Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson of campaign finance oversight and shift it to a new bipartisan commission appears to be dead. The House Elections and Ethics Committee did not consider the measures Wednesday, with Republican Chairman Aaron Miller of Sturgis saying there was a “general lack of support. I think that the current process works well, and I think that there were issues with the bills.” The legislation was seen by critics as one of the most explicit efforts to take power from a Democratic officeholder.
A key Senate committee was poised Wednesday to pass a revised version of a House-passed bill that would make it harder to initiate ballot drives by imposing a geographic-based limit on petition signatures, a month after voters passed proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, curtail gerrymandering and expand voting options. Groups currently need hundreds of thousands of valid signatures, but they can come from anywhere in the state. The legislation would let no more than 15 percent of signatures come from a congressional district.
Conservatives involved in successful abortion, tax and term limit initiatives in recent decades are opposing the bill along with Democrats and liberals group. They say it is unconstitutional and an insult to voters. Many Republicans and the business community are backing it, saying it makes sense to require broader support for a measure before it goes to a statewide vote.
House-passed legislation would let the full Legislature or individual chambers automatically intervene in lawsuits, a power that until now has been reserved for the state attorney general. It is pending in the Senate. The move could affect Democratic Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel, who has said she probably will not defend a law allowing faith-based groups to refuse to serve same-sex couples who want to adopt children. The bill also could potentially affect Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer, who will be involved in shaping legal strategy.
Snyder already has signed into law bills that significantly scale back minimum wage and paid sick leave laws that started as ballot initiatives and were preemptively adopted by GOP lawmakers so they could be more easily changed after the election. The unprecedented maneuver is bound to be challenged in court. Snyder also signed legislation to help implement his deal with Canadian energy transport giant Enbridge to eventually replace an oil pipeline in the Great Lakes. Whitmer has criticized the agreement.
© 2018 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.