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Michigan Legislature adjourns for the year

Michigan State Capitol dome interior
Wikipedia Media Commons
Michigan State Capitol dome interior

Michigan lawmakers formally wrapped things up for the year Tuesday.

At noon, the mostly empty Legislature adjourned sine die, a Latin phrase meaning “without day.”

Adjourning sine die starts the 90-day countdown clock for implementation of several laws that didn’t receive approval to take effect immediately.

That includes a law moving up the state’s presidential primary election to February 27th. Ending things in December, as has been custom, would have meant the law would take effect too late to hold the election on that new date.

House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) said adjourning earlier than usual means accelerated implementation of his party’s priorities.

“We’re at a point where we’ve been able to do significant things, but we have to make sure that it gets to Michigan residents as soon as possible,” Tate said during an interview with the Michigan Public Radio Network Tuesday.

Some of the other laws waiting to take effect include changes to Michigan’s gun laws, expansion ofthe earned income tax credit, and broadening of the state’s civil rights law to include sexual preference and gender identity.

This is the earliest the state Legislature has adjourned sine die since 1968, according to state records.

That’s gotten Democratic leadership criticism from Republicans, like Rep. Jaime Greene (R-Richmond). Greene alluded to the House of Representatives’ temporary 54-54 split -- down from a 54-56 Democratic majority, thanks to the resignation of two Democratic members who won mayoral races last week.

“We have so much other work that we need to get done. And then we even need to start tackling the budget for next year. But we also have a 54-54 split. So now, they truly have to reach across the aisle and take into consideration bipartisan legislation,” Greene said.

Democrats have defended the move, saying the number of days lawmakers gathered for session this year is on par with past years, regardless of the early calendar date for adjournment.

“I’ll put this year up against any other year in the Michigan Legislature’s history. We set out, House Democrats, to focus on policy that’s impactful for our constituents,” Tate said.

Still, the early adjournment means several policy priorities were punted until next year.

That includes bipartisan-sponsored school safety legislation, an effort to remake a business incentives program, and bills aimed at ensuring people catastrophically injured in car crashes can care that providers say is medically necessary.

Crash survivor advocate Maureen Driscoll said hundreds are suffering as the Legislature waits.

“We don’t know where these survivors are even going, we don’t know what kind of care they’re getting, but they are not getting agency care,” Driscoll said. “We don’t even know if they’re passing away.”

The auto no-fault legislation has been tied up in the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee since October.

Committee Chair Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac) said it’s trying to figure out how to get people care they need without raising rates.

In a press release sent by her office Tuesday, Carter said work will continue on addressing the state’s no-fault law.


“This is complicated work, and striking a balance between these objectives must be done carefully and deliberately. Finding a path is the first step, and crafting appropriate language to accomplish the goal is paramount to settle this issue and avoid fights in the future,” Carter said in the press release.

Lawmakers are scheduled to next meet on January 10.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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