Jan 14, 2009
Speaker Dillon outlines an ambitious agenda fore the 95th Michigan Legislature
LANSING -- The opening of the 95th Michigan Legislature on Wednesday was routine, unless you were one of the 44 new House members who took the oath of office from Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh.
The Senate met briefly and adjourned, but the excitement was in the House with the new Representative that increased the Democrats lead in the House to 67-43, up from 58-52 when the Democrats took back control of the House in 2007. Family and friends were on hand on the House floor and in the galleries to watch the ceremony, highlighted by Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch, playing "How Great Thou Art" on his saxophone. Members chose their seats in the House Chamber, and elected the Speaker of the House.
New Majority Floor Leader Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, nominated last session’s Speaker, Rep. Andy Dillon, D-Redford, who was elected unanimously.
“Our country and state are in a time of transition and changes, and we need strong leadership to see us through,” Angerer said. “We need honest, ethical leaders like Andy Dillon.”
Dillon’s nomination was seconded by new Minority Leader Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, saying the speaker has been willing to meet with him over the past several weeks. Early indications are he will be an improvement over term-limited Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, who has nothing but an impediment.
“It is my honor to second the nomination of Andy Dillon as Speaker of the House,” Elsenheimer said.
Dillon outlined a broad and ambitious agenda that included reforming the state's tax structure, cutting property taxes, eliminating the Michigan Business Tax surcharge, addressing home foreclosures and enacting a workplace smoking ban. He wants to accomplish the bulk of the work before the Legislature breaks for the summer in June.
“We are serving in the most challenging economic climate since the Great Depression,” he said. “We may not be able to fix all the problems, but shame on us if we don't do what we can.”
He is also facing a current budget shortfall of $350 million and as much as $1.5 billon drop in tax revenue next year. He also wants to cut lawmakers pay and lifetime health care after just six years.
“If we are going to ask other people to sacrifice, then we must lead by example,” he said.