For the first time since 1978, the Michigan Legislature decided to stop working before Thanksgiving and took the rest of the year off. The legislature’s ceremonial “sine die” last session day for 2023 was Tuesday, November 14. Usually, sine die doesn’t take place until the end of December.
To provide some context, the last time the legislature left the state Capitol this early, gas was just 65 cents a gallon and a carton of eggs was 79 cents.
The legislature is now not scheduled to return to work until January 10, 2024, at the earliest. While we might all like a couple of months’ paid vacation, sadly the rest of us are still working but paying for their time off.
In many respects, the legislature is the embodiment of the people of Michigan. At least it should be. We all work hard, put in an honest day’s work, and are committed to doing the best job possible. Michigan’s strong work ethic helped put our great state on the map as the birthplace of the auto industry and arsenal of democracy during World War II. We’re still one of the greatest manufacturing centers in the world today.
That’s why it’s especially disappointing that the legislature decided to shirk its responsibility by quitting early when the people back home continue to struggle with higher inflation, rising energy bills and soaring costs at grocery stores. Michigan workers don’t quit, but our politicians quit on us.
The same work ethic also means honoring your commitments. The fact that two House lawmakers resigned last month to take other jobs may further delay the important work of the legislature because the state House is now at a 54-54 Democrat-Republican split. People who don’t follow Lansing politics may wonder why a perfectly even bipartisan split would be such an issue. The simple truth is that the 2023-24 Legislature has been bitterly partisan, and the majority party’s agenda isn’t mainstream.
In fact, it was recently found that the state House voted unanimously on legislation only 19 times out of 586 roll call votes this year, the fewest number of unanimous votes in a regular session since 1849, according to a MIRS newsletter analysis. This means a large majority of the bills considered were partisan in nature. Partisan bills need every vote from the controlling party, so the work of the legislature is now effectively stalled.
Here’s the sad reality: This period of inactivity by our state-elected leaders couldn’t have come at a worse time. Those prices from 1978 are now just a distant memory. Today, gas is about $3.70 a gallon and a carton of eggs will cost families about $4.25. The people need their elected officials back in Lansing to enact sound economic policy proposals with bipartisan support to help alleviate the stress many families are feeling right now.
Please contact your state representatives and senators and tell them to get back to the state Capitol and start working for the people again. Michigan workers deserve bipartisan solutions, not partisan division.