Dec 30, 2006
House Democrats to bring work ethic and bipartisanship back to the House
Constructive changes are coming to the Michigan House of Representatives as the Democrats get set to take over, and in a real, solid commitment to addressing the structural problems facing our state the House will begin a four day work week when it convenes in January.
New Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, D-Redford, plans to hold House sessions from Monday to Thursday instead of the normal Tuesday to Thursday. With the looming budget crisis and the need to fix the mess left by the Republicans with the irresponsible early repel of the Singe Business Tax the extra session days will be needed. The Republican majority killed the tax this summer in an election ploy with no replacement in sight, and they refused the governor’s request to address the replacement in the lame duck session.
The Monday start will bring house members to Lansing earlier, and the extra time will allow committees more time to meet. The bulk of the work on complex bills is done in committee, and the replacement of the SBT is just such a complex bill. Citizens will also be happy to see lawmakers earning the almost 40 percent pay raise they gave themselves a few years ago.
The Democrats are also going to truly change the tone in Lansing for the better after the Republican majority completely shut out the other side from the Democratic process. It go so bad that the Republicans and Majority Floor leader Chris Ward refused to even provide the basic courtesy of supplying a daily schedule of bills to be taken up on the floor on session days to the other side.
New Majority Floor Leader Rep. Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit, said he will allow actual floor debate, and he is committed to having open debate and a deliberative and democratic process where members are recognized on the House floor and in the committees. More bills coming out of the House will have members of both parties co-sponsoring them, and there will be more bipartisan coalitions formed.
In a show of that bipartisan spirit, the Speaker has given both sides of the aisle the same allotment of money to each member to maintain their offices and provide office staff instead of the past practice of the majority party getting a larger allotment of money to operate their constituent services.
The Republican controlled Senate, that killed many bills passed in the House because it did not take them up, has not said if it plans to follow suit and increase work hours.