The new 101st Michigan Legislature resumed sessions this week after a week-long suspension. It will likely be several more weeks before new bills advance through committees and are taken up by the full House or Senate for a vote.
There was one politically meaningful action this week when the Senate Republican majority brought forward a vote to disapprove 13 administrative board and commission appointments made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
This was said to be a protest against Gov. Whitmer for not engaging the legislature in the state's coronavirus epidemic response decisions, and passed on a 19-14 party line vote with three members absent.
Five proposals to amend the state constitution have been introduced in the legislature’s opening days, and are described below. To become law, constitutional amendments must be placed on the ballot and approved by a majority of voters. To be placed on the ballot a constitutional amendment proposed by legislators must receive a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate.
Introduced by Sen. Tom Barrett (R), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to strip-out language currently in the Constitution of 1963 allowing tax revenue earmarked to the state “School Aid Fund” to be used for state universities. Tax dollars earmarked to this fund could only be spend on K-12 public schools and community colleges.
Introduced by Sen. Tom Barrett (R), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to require that by Oct. 1, 2024, all school districts receive the same amount of total state and local per pupil revenue for school operating purposes.
Introduced by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to repeal the current prohibition on imposing a graduated state income tax (as opposed to Michigan's current flat tax). This would not apply to the income taxes imposed by some Michigan cities.
Introduced by Rep. Jason Wentworth (R), to place before voters in the next general election a Constitutional amendment to require that bills passed in a “lame duck” legislative session held after the election in an even year must get a two-thirds House and Senate majority vote to become law.
Introduced by Rep. Gary Howell (R), to place before voters in the next general election a Constitutional amendment to prohibit lame duck” legislative sessions in even years (meaning election years). The proposal would make the Friday before the November general election the last day legislative sessions may be held in even years.
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