The State House and Senate were back in Lansing setting up the final push for this fall. Before this week, neither chamber had been in session for two and a half months.
Now with just about that same amount of time left in the legislative year, it is the time to get bills passed and approved.
“I wish we would have been in session a little bit more,” said Rep. John Roth.
The summer break was a little longer this year for lawmakers in Lansing.
“I don’t set the schedule, I come when they tell me to,” said Sen. Jim Ananich.
Usually this time is used as a break but it’s also a chance for lawmakers to spend time in their district. On election years the extra time is given to campaign.
“For me, with redistricting and the new district, I had to learn and meet 66% of my new constituents,” said Roth, “It’s been a busy summer.”
The extended time was also possible because the legislature finished their biggest project in June, the state budget.
“It was really helpful because if we are trying to force it and get it done now, with an election, it would’ve just been a rushed effort,” said Ananich, “It wouldn’t be very good.”
This week they are back, before another quick break, to begin the final flurry of bills that always happen before a legislature turns over.
“That’s taking up a lot of our time of course, yesterday we were able to get a number of bills done,” said Ananich, “That includes the package I’ve been working on, Filter First.”
Filter First is a package with Ananich and Sen. Curt VanderWall that would equip schools with water filters. It’s already funded by the budget but the policy needs to be approved.
“We have money available for daycare centers and schools to put in filters and they could test if there’s lead issues or other issues,” said Ananich, “But the filter would give them a level of protection.”
Everyone has their projects to wrap up.
“Myself, I have five bills that are in the Senate that we’re hoping to get done and to the Governor,” said Roth.
While the budget is done, there’s still more that could be done. Lawmakers left billions of dollars on the table to later spend on final projects.
“We don’t wanna spend it all, obviously. We need to hold back some money for education, just in case,” said Roth, “But there’s still $4 or $5 billion that we have, that we could spend.”
“I hope that we can get it done,” said Ananich, “If we don’t, they can come back next year and work on it.”
With the election that will mean an entirely new legislature, so the New Year deadline is real.