Michigan lawmakers approve major change to lame duck session

State Rep. Jason Wentworth
State Rep. Jason Wentworth(source: WJRT)
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 6:15 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The lame duck session of the Michigan Legislature every two years may look a lot different in 2022.

The Michigan House approved sweeping changes to how new laws will be considered after the general election and before outgoing lawmakers leave their positions on even-numbered years.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth, a Republican from Farwell, introduced House Joint Resolution A as one of the first pieces of legislation in the 101st Legislature. The measure would require a two-thirds majority for any bills to pass the House and Senate in late November and December of election years.

The resolution passed the House by a vote of 102-7. If it passes the Michigan Senate with a two-thirds majority, it will go on the ballot for a statewide vote in 2022.

Wentworth said the resolution places a renewed focus on ethics in the Legislature.

“We said one of our pillars this session was ethics and we put our weight behind it by introducing and passing this important legislation immediately,” Wentworth said. “This is just the first of many changes we’ll introduce to earn the trust of the people of the state.”

Very controversial and deeply partisan bills have passed during the lame duck period previously. The 2018 lame duck session included bills approving the Enbridge oil pipeline tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac and limiting ballot petitions signatures to 15% from each congressional district in Michigan.

The Enbridge tunnel remains in development despite Democrat efforts to stop it over the past two years. Former Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill imposing ballot petition limits shortly before leaving office, but the courts later threw out the law.

Wentworth called for an end to last-minute, late-night deals struck during the lame duck session, which he believes creates distrust between lawmakers and the constituents they serve.

“In government, there is nothing more important than having the trust and confidence of the people who pay for it – the taxpayers we report to – and this is an important step,” Wentworth said.

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