By noon on New Year’s Day, Democrats will take control of every branch of state government.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s inauguration for her second term will take place early on a sunny Sunday morning. On New Year’s Eve, I’m a sober person to make sure MLive can give you a recap of all the festivities whenever and wherever you wake up — hopefully not too hungover.
It was the first time since 1983 that Democrats took control of both chambers of the legislature. They have a long wish list of policy changes, and political observers are very interested in their priorities.
MLive’s Senate reporter Alyssa Burr spoke with incoming Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, to gain insight into what’s top of their agenda in early 2023. In the House, Democrats have made clear their interest in affordable housing. Whitmer has expressed a desire to consolidate LGBTQ protections and laws to reduce gun violence while expanding the earned income tax credit and eliminating retirement income taxes entirely.
That doesn’t mean policymaking stops in the weeks following the Democrats’ sweeping victory in the November election.
The Republican-led Legislature still had a relatively low-key lame-duck session, apparently introducing a raft of bills in a late-night legislative session. Whitmer, however, offered no guarantees for the legislation without prior consultation with her office.
Alyssa and House reporter Jordyn Hermani released summaries of all the major pieces of legislation that are sitting on Whitmer’s desk in the final days of 2022, whether they get her signature or are rejected. Veto veto. She passed 278 bills into law this year.
- Several bills were initially signed, including the first state-funded veterans cemetery, renewal of heating assistance for low-income homes, and more.
- Expansion of the Michigan Tuition-Free College Program.
- The 11 vetoes include changes to Michigan’s marijuana regulations, which would ease restrictions on conflicts of interest, and another proposal that would tighten controls over public employee retirement system debt payments.
- Whitmer signed legislation bringing Michigan mental health professionals into a multistate compact so they can conduct telehealth and limited in-person services in other states. Patients may also receive care from other states in a contract.
- In an effort to prevent healthcare facilities from completely blocking patient visits starting 30 days after the pandemic was declared, Detroit’s Huntington Center expansion and free QLine rides ended the year.
- In case you missed the previous week, major changes to Michigan’s recycling system were also signed into law.
A vacancy on MSU’s board of trustees was also filled before the end of the year, with banking executive Sandy Pierce filling the seat left by Pat O’Keeffe’s resignation. (For whatever it’s worth, she donated $2,500 to Whitmer’s campaign. Not a huge sum, considering she’s raised $38 million in total.)
In another sprint to the end, the Jan. 6 committees in the U.S. House of Representatives are making a last-minute push to wrap up their work investigating the U.S. Capitol attack, releasing transcripts of some key interviews along the way.
We’ve covered the gist of the role that Michigan’s former legislative leader played at the time. But the transcripts released over the past week have provided more insight into how central Michigan fueled an election-rigging conspiracy that culminated in a violent insurrection at the seat of the U.S. government.
In a transcript of an interview with outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, we get another revelation: In a plan to replace Michigan’s Electoral College representatives with a voteable list, Shirkey repeatedly The pressure from key figures came to Trump despite then-candidate Joe Biden winning by 154,000 votes.
And if that wasn’t enough, state cybersecurity officials are now examining whether the hugely popular social media platform TikTok poses a threat to state government equipment.
The scrutiny, first reported by MLive, comes amid growing concerns about the company’s data practices and as 19 other state governments have banned the app from state-issued phones. Congressional Republicans in Michigan even asked Whitmer to consider forcing state employees to delete TikTok from their personal phones.