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Lame Duck Legislature Finishes the Year With Little Action

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Barring any emergency sessions scheduled in the next three weeks, the Michigan State Legislature is done for the year. That means the entire legislative session is over, as half the lawmakers turn over in the new year.

The final days lead to what is called ‘lame duck session,’ when the final efforts to pass bills are made. Sometimes a fast and furious affair, this year was a bit lame.

“All of these bills do expire on Dec. 31 of this year,” said Senator Jeremy Moss, a Democrat from Southfield.

Lame duck can be an incredibly productive and intense session like it was in 2018 before the governor’s office changed parties. Or it can be like this year, when not much gets done and the year ends early.

“We’re going into a Democratic trifecta, but we still have a Democratic governor, so there is no way Republican-only projects that the governor would sign into law,” said Sen. Moss. “It had to be something bipartisan.”

There was talk about surplus spending, earned income tax credits or possibly a gas tax break. In the end, the biggest bill passed in lame duck was about recycling and creating an environment focused on holding polluters liable and boosting recycling services.

“We were overdue for this, which is why I think there was a sense of political urgency to do this during lame duck,” said Jeff Johnston, spokesman for EGLE. “We want Michigan to be in a leadership position again in waste management.”

For some political reasons, there were also dozens of disappointments. The bill that would stock every school and child care center with water filters? Never given a vote in the house.

For years, both sides have repeatedly called for transparency in government.

“We’ve put forward our legislation to, at long last, subject Michigan’s state government, the legislature, and the governor’s office to greater transparency,” said Moss.

The bill was never brought to the floor for a vote. Now after the new year, the entire process will have to restart.

Moss said that with as slow the end of this session had been, the start if next will be a flurry. For the first time in 40 years Democrats will have full control and their agenda can push forward, including his FOIA bill.

“I’ve already talked to my friend and partner across the aisle, State Senator Ed McBroom, we are both returning next term,” said Moss. “We are going to continue to work on these efforts so at long last we can get it done during the session.”