Lame-Duck Power Struggle

Republican Bills Seek to Limit Incoming Democrats' Power

BTL Staff
By | 2018-12-12T23:01:41-04:00 December 12th, 2018|Michigan, News, Uncategorized|

Called the lame-duck session, it’s the period in politics post an election but before newly elected officials can take office, and in the Michigan Legislature it’s scheduled to last through Dec. 20. Currently, the Republican legislature still has a majority in both the House and Senate, but since the midterms it has decreased. Beyond that, Republicans must also contend not only with incoming Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but a Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and an openly lesbian Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel. This will be the first time in almost three decades that Democrats have held all three of these seats in Michigan state government.
Though only partially through the period now, Republicans have already passed a series of bills will impact the authority all three of the incoming officials. In particular, Nessel is impacted by House Bill 6553 that passed Dec. 5. Originally introduced Nov. 29 by State Rep. Robert VerHeulen, R-Walker.
“The legislature and each house of the legislature is hereby authorized and empowered to intervene in any action commenced in any court of this state whenever the legislature or a house of the legislature deems such intervention necessary in order to protect any right or interest of this state, or of that body,” reads the bill.
Not only will the legislature be able to intervene at any stage of proceedings by prosecuting appeals and applying for re-hearings, but it can “take any other action or step whatsoever that is had or possessed by any of the parties to such litigation.” This includes all matters pending before the state. As Michigan’s chief law enforcement officer, this would directly undermine Nessel’s ability to prosecute violations of state law without fear of involvement from the legislature.
In a Detroit Free Press Report, Nessel’s transition team spokeswoman Kelly Rossman commented on the bill.
“(Nessel) is deeply concerned and troubled by the hasty legislative efforts to push through a proposal that has not been properly vetted and appears to be an intentional effort on the part of some legislators to undermine the role of the state’s attorney general,” Rossman said. “Those legislators pushing this law should be reminded that the people elect their attorneys general and their governors and such a proposal — should it pass — would have a dramatic and disastrous impact on the state of Michigan and its residents for years to come.”
In a MLive report, State Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park, called this legislation a “short, but very far-reaching” bill and an “unconstitutional power grab.”
“The Constitution says the powers of government are divided into three branches … this bill will erode that foundation,” he said. “To me it’s troubling that I have to stand before you today and lecture you on civics.”
Rep. Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, concurred, adding that the bill “tramples on the rule of law” and would impose “undue governmental burden on private parties.”
To fully pass, this bill would have to be approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
This bill is not the only controversial move by Republicans to undermine Democratic control. Currently there have been bills passed by both the House and Senate to extend the number of years before the minimum wage in Michigan rises from $9.05 to $12.05, reduce the hours of paid sick leave, impede the Gov.-elect from shutting down the Enbridge Line 5 tunnel, extend the ban on doctors providing abortion-inducing drugs to patients, impede voter registration access and more.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.