Feb 18, 2009
Overworked Senate Republicans take the week off, but want state employees to work holidays
If you want to see some irony and gall, you just need to pay some attention to the Senate Republicans.
Just a week after Senate Republicans introduced an anti-worker resolution that would require that state employees either work on President's Day or take the day off as an unpaid holiday, it turns out that the GOP-controlled Senate is taking next week off. No one is quite sure why, and Sen. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, - who is becoming a thorn in the side of the Republicans - wanted to know why when Republicans are saying the sky is falling they are taking a week off.
“I can’t get an answer why,” Whitmer said on Wednesday. “I have asked a number of members why the Senate would close down, not meet in session. I don’t understand. And per Nero, Rome is burning—if you haven’t been listening.”
The Democratic-controlled House is in session next week, and both the House and Senate take a spring break for two weeks in April. But no one has an explanation for the off week, and Republicans are not talking.
“Now I’ve been told: ‘Well, we really don’t have much to do, ‘” Whitmer said. “I’ve been told: ‘People need more time in their districts.’
“Well, you worked one week last month and two days in December,” she said. “Haven’t you had enough time in your districts? Isn’t it time to spend a little time here in Lansing and complete the state budget or at least get it begun?”
Granted, most lawmakers meet with constituents, work in the district and attend events in the district when not in Lansing, and they keep a full schedule and earn their pay. But there is plenty to do in Lansing. Since the 95th Legislative session began on Jan. 14, Senate sessions have rarely gone more than an hour. In fact, Wednesday’s session lasted just 45 minutes, including the statements or speeches at the end of session.
When you consider how many in the Republicans caucus are running for statewide office, it’s not surprising they are taking the time off. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, ended the speculation on what office he is running for when he officially announced he is running for Attorney General today. He joins fellow Republicans Senator Bruce “the Bear” Patterson, R-Canton, in running for that office. There is one Republican member running for Governor and two for Secretary of State.
Sen. Bill Hardiman, R-Kentwood, offered a lame explanation for the off-week.
“I don’t plan the schedule and can’t respond to that, but there was an implication that we are not doing enough work; and we are not working when we are not in session,” he said. “Well, I do have to take exception to that.”