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Republicans To Push For Tax Cut, Healthcare Reform During Lame Duck

November 22, 2022

Article by MIRS News, for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog e-newsletter

Lame duck could still include a tax cut push by House Republicans, Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) said during a Thursday afternoon roundtable held in his Capitol office.

He said if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s public comments hold up during the lame-duck period, the House isn’t far from a potential tax cut ahead of 2023.

Healthcare reform will also be addressed during lame duck, Wentworth said, including areas of the 15-bill Republican prescription drug reduction package that passed the House in March 2021 and still awaits action in the Senate.

The package, an effort that was led by Wentworth and not supported by any particular interest group, includes HB 4346, which would put a $50 copay limit on insulin.  

The bills were criticized by a few interest groups and Scott Hagerstrom’s Michigan Prosperity Project, who called it “Obamacare 2.0.”

But Wentworth said he plans to personally try to push the bills through the Senate before January.

“There’s a few bills over there that are really impactful to the people of Michigan,” he said. “$50, I mean, that’s a big deal for a lot of people in the state, and I’m hoping to get that across the finish line, but that’s just one of them.

“Some will be harder than others,” Wentworth added, “but I won’t give up until lame duck is over.”

Though this session has seen several House reforms stall in the Senate, Wentworth said his relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) is strong, and a slower-moving Senate does not reflect different goals for Republicans in the upper chamber.

“The Senate has different challenges than the House and we have a shorter timeline as well, so when we took over, we were ready to govern from day one. We had already known what we were going to do and we were already in the pipeline of getting members engaged,” he said. “And that’s a different cycle than the Senate. They’re not always as quick to react to the political timeline.”

But Wentworth added that in hindsight, he wishes some priorities would have moved faster, part of why he sponsored legislation requiring a supermajority of support in order to pass bills in lame duck.

“I didn’t want to get into a situation where we’re sitting in lame duck with a lot of priorities that are still left,” he said.

A resolution to end lame duck and require a two-thirds vote could result in more consistent movement throughout the terms in office, Wentworth said.

But with lame duck still on the calendar, he said other issues the House could reopen includes conversations about minimum wage and paid sick leave, along with ethics reform bills that are sitting in the Senate.

Ahead of 2023, Wentworth said one regret he has is leaving money on the table ahead of a session with Dem control in both chambers, and he urged Democrats to consider a tax cut then, if an agreement can’t be reached before the new year.

“I hope that we’re giving it back to people in Michigan,” he said. “I hope that there’s further talks about this tax cut in lame duck. I think that’s the biggest thing we can do is help people and not just give them a check, but actually have some long-term tax reduction that people can feel over time.” 

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