The legislative session in Lansing came to an end this year with a flurry. Numerous bills were passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and sent to Governor Rick Snyder to be signed into law. For some, it marks an end to time in office, but it also doesn't necessarily mean goodbye.
When the last measure passed, it effectively brought to an end the tenure of Ann Arbor State Representative Jeff Irwin. That last one was also the biggest of the lame-duck session as it set a new energy policy for Michigan. Irwin voted against the plan.
"A lot of my friends in the environmental community are very happy about it and in the context that we working in getting any sort of progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency, I think, was a positive. For my part, I was looking for more. You know, I see the renewable energy goals that we passed as incredibly weak, perhaps even so much so they're symbolic."
The 53rd District Democrat also stood opposed to a fee that will be assessed on home-based solar installations and managed to get the fee reduced, but not eliminated.
Irwin first took office in 2011 and won re-election twice. Term-limit laws mandate he now leave office, so it's only appropriate to reflect on six years of work in Lansing. His personal high point came about in the last few weeks with the passage of a supplemental budget bill that funds a program called "Heat and Eat."
"...which is a program that I've been working on for the last year and a half. The bottom line is that because the state of Michigan is putting in an additional $6.7 million into the budget for heating assistance, that's gonna leverage an additional $300 million a year for needy families to put food on their tables. So, that was a huge win."
Irwin says, even though he won't be working in Lansing, participating in political and community conversations remains vitally important to him.
"The idea that, as a legislator, I've had an opportunity to affect the lives of 10 million people with my work, that's exhilarating. It's exciting. I take some joy out of it, and I take it very, very seriously."
Will that mean a return to elected office at some point?
"You know, I'm going to continue to look for opportunities. You know, I think that the next logical opportunity for me would be to look at running for state Senate when our excellent state Senator, Rebekah Warren, is termed out."
For now, Jeff Irwin is going to remain involved, but as a stay-at-home dad.
Washtenaw County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi won the 53rd District seat in November and will take over as Ann Arbor State Representative in January.