Legislative Leaders Say They’ll Work First, Then Adjourn
September 5, 2023
Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter
Asked when legislators will be adjourning for the year, amid predictions that Democratic leadership will leave Lansing early to assure their new presidential primary date goes into effect, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said “as soon as we get all the work done that we want to get done, we will adjourn.”
“But I will say this: there has not been a date set – a definitive date set for ending session this year,” Brinks continued. “We have a lot of important work to do. We’re very focused on that at this time, and that decision will get made when we are ready to make it.”
Brinks added that a personal deadline for when an adjournment – or sine die – date must be announced also has not been set.
House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) expressed similar sentiments during a back-and-forth with a reporter.
“Our focus at the end of the day is what we can get done,” he said. “It’s not the number of days that we have. Our concern is what public problems we can get done for the people of Michigan at the end of the day.”
A reporter asked as a follow up: “What about sine die?”
“We’re focused on public policy,” he responded.
“Why can’t you answer that question?” Tate was asked.
“We’re focused on our public policy that we’re going to be looking at, so we have to see where we’re at this fall, just like we have done earlier this year with our calendar. That’s where the focus is.”
So, it’s a possibility?
“We’ll see what happens.”
The Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker and House Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), spoke to members of the media after the Governor’s “What’s Next” address.
During the event, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on legislators to work on reforms allowing the Michigan Public Service Commission to incorporate “climate” and “equity” into its regulatory process over utilities and establishing a drug affordability board to target bad actors in the pharmaceutical supply chain, among other things.
Brinks said each of the reforms pushed by the governor will receive hearings and stakeholder engagement.
“You’ll see it happen very efficiently because we do have a limited amount of time as a Legislature to get things done this year, no matter what date we adjourn,” she said.
Pohutsky echoed statements from Brinks that the plan is to get the entire slate of legislation prioritized by Whitmer done by the end of the year. She said these packages are “very close” to being ready.
“We’re not looking at anything, in terms of adjournment, as a number of days,” Pohutsky said. “We’re looking at the number of issues that we have left to get done.
“The goal is to get as much done this year as we possibly can,” she said.
Rep. Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit) said these goals are possible, but only “if we coordinate.”
“It’s a slim majority that Democrats have. We need to rely on our friends on the other side of the aisle,” McKinney said. “This impacts their districts too.
“I’m excited to work with the other side of town and see how many votes we can muster up to get this done immediately, because time is ticking,” McKinney said.
Because legislation moving Michigan’s presidential primary date to Feb. 27, 2024 did not receive the necessary support from Senate Republicans to take effect while lawmakers are still in session for the year, it’s assumed that Democrats will need to adjourn for the year in October or November to guarantee the new election date takes effect.
The Feb. 27 date was assigned to Michigan by the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee and was promoted by President Joe Biden. It cannot be fully utilized by Republicans in their own presidential nominating process because the Republican National Committee bars them from hosting a primary election prior to March.
Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) told MIRS he’s hearing that the Legislature will adjourn at the end of October or at the beginning of November.
“Because for purely partisan political reasons of screwing over Republicans in presidential primaries,” Nesbitt said. “It seems like they’re intent on only having a Democratic House for one term with these proposals, and they seem concerned that with a possibility of a 54-54 House, they might as well adjourn instead of try to govern in the middle 70%, which is very disheartening.”
Nesbitt was referencing that if Democratic Reps. Lori Stone (D-Warren) and Kevin Coleman (D-Westland) win their mayoral races in Warren and Westland, respectively, in November and are sworn in immediately, the House’s partisan breakdown would be 54-54.