TitleBytes News & Happenings

A Michigan Legislative Overview

Dec 12, 2019

By Tim Ward, Michigan Legislative Consultants

As the first year of Governor Whitmer’s administration comes to a close, let’s take a look in the review mirror before looking ahead to 2020.

Not unexpectedly, the pace of governance has abated with a divided government, the first one in eight years. A couple contributing factors to this pace includes GOP legislators not introducing and moving bills they know a Democrat governor will not sign. And by the willingness of the Governor and both legislative leaders trying to work cooperatively on a variety of issues, which takes more time to complete.

Some have called the legislative production picture this year a mixed bag which is a fair statement. On the one hand, auto no-fault reform, decades in the making, was finally accomplished. On the other, a transportation road funding package is still in the making. Twice put to the back burner. When it will be taken up remains to be seen.

The budget process itself was a mixed bag. From one perspective, the legislature passed, and the governor signed a budget prior to the start of the new fiscal year, so mission accomplished. Governor Whitmer used her authority to veto line items in the budget and then transferred funds through the use of the Administrative Board, before calling on the legislature to come back to the bargaining table. So, while the budget is technically done, it isn’t.

Beyond the budget, roads, and auto no-fault, there were many other issues that moved through the legislature that didn’t win the headlines of these other issues. As of this writing, in all, there have been a total of 138 bills signed into law so far this year.

2019 also saw some changes at MLC. Cami Pendell, who usually writes this column, has taken a job with the Michigan Supreme Court. So, it gives me great pleasure to introduce readers of TitleBytes to Patti Tremblay, MLC’s newest lobbyist who will also serve as the MLTA’s lead advocate at the Capitol.

Patti began her career working as part of the non-partisan staff at the Michigan House of Representatives. There, she advised representatives, staff, and the public on legislative processes and procedures, in addition to assisting floor and committee operations. She then moved into the role of policy analyst, specializing in regulatory reform, retirement policy, employment law, elections, and insurance.

Her last role within the Michigan House was general counsel for the House Democratic Caucus. In that role she was the lead attorney on all legal matters before the House and served as chief legal advisor to members, candidates, and staff on compliance of campaign finance and election laws.

So, moving into 2020, Patti will be the lead lobbyist for MLTA, but the issues for 2020 are still developing. However, here are a few things we do know.

• The legislature will begin the 2020 session on Tuesday, January 8th and the Governor will give her second State of the State address later that same month.

• The current fiscal year’s budget process could wrap up just days or weeks before the next one begins.

• As an election year, the closer we get to the candidate filing deadline in the Spring, the less likely it is for big issues to see action. The State House is up for election, not the State Senate or Governor, Secretary of State or Attorney General, so compared with 2018, it will be a relatively quiet election cycle at the state level. Now, regarding the federal elections . . . .

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