Dec 9, 2006

Livingston County House contingent try to spin reduced role to voters after Republicans lose control of the House

After reading an article Friday in the Community News, the Ann Arbor News weekly product that covers Livingston County, it makes you wonder if the Livingston County contingent in the state House have no idea what’s really going or that they think the voters are just stupid.

Democrats gained six seats in the state House for a 58-52 majority in the Nov. 7 election, taking power for the first time in eight years.
Although state Reps. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, and Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, won handily, their roles will be changing now that they're part of a minority. Ward was re-elected as floor leader but will be working in the minority for the next two years.
"It's an adjustment process to go in the minority,'' says Ward. "Over the last four years I enjoyed a pretty good relationship with colleagues on the other side of the aisle and hope to still make an impact on issues like equity in school funding, funding for road projects, and turning the economy around.''

As the Majority Floor Leader, Ward controlled what the full House would consider each session day. He changed the tone in Lansing from one of wary bipartisanship to one of complete distrust. He completely shut the other party out of the legislative process, went so far as to even stop the long time courtesy of giving the other side a daily House agenda and he even threatened to throw a priest out of a hearing for daring to try and speak. It went so far that a top Democratic lawmaker said a House sergeant wrongly blocked her from seeing what bills were in a box to be taken up that day by the chamber because Ward refused to provide something as simple as a daily agenda. He calls that “a pretty good relationship with colleagues on the other side of the aisle?” Get real.

Does Joe Hune not really understand how the Legislative process works or did the reporter simply paraphrase incorrectly. After the heavy-handed tactics the Democrats have endured under Republican rule it would be very tempting to do the very sane thing, but I think Democrats will bring every one to the table.

Hune says he doesn't anticipate chairing the House insurance committee but still hopes to be involved with keeping the cost of all insurance down as well as working on health policy.
"I'd also like to continue to be involved with tort reform and agriculture as well as working on local issues like school funding and the expansions of US-23 and M-59,'' says Hune.

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