Jan 8, 2007

It’s business as usual for the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate

It’s business as usual for the Republican-controlled Senate after Majority Leader, Sen. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, announced the Senate would follow the normal session schedule of meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Bishop chose not to follow the lead of new Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, D-Redford, in holding 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.

Even when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate, the Senate served as a roadblock for legislation the public has been clamoring for, such as campaign finance reform. A package of bills pushed by Brighton Republican Chris Ward was passed in the House, and even though the bills heavily favored the Republicans, the Senate still chose not to act on them or even take them up. Ward’s bill - House Bill 6128 – would have allegedly regulated so-called "soft money,” but it especially favored Republicans. But the rest of the package would have been a small step toward more accountability with better reporting and access requirements, and it would have been better than nothing.

There has also not been much of talk about bipartisanship coming from the Senate, and it’s unclear if the Democrats will again be shut out of the legislative process in the Senate like they have in the past. Apparently, only Democrats have to practice bipartisanship.

Despite the House session not beginning until the swearing in of all the members on Wednesday, that bipartisanship has already begun. 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.

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