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Effort afoot to control state’s ‘lame duck’ legislative period

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published July 5, 2019

WARREN — It’s been tried before in various ways, but two state legislators with ties to Warren are looking to require a larger consensus during the “lame duck” session in even-numbered election years.

State Sen. Paul Wojno and state Rep. Lori Stone, both Warren Democrats, are backing a joint resolution that would require a two-thirds vote in their respective houses of the Legislature, as opposed to a simple majority, during the lame duck period that falls after the November election every two years.

“This kind of stems from lame duck, where, you know, we just watched day after day as ungodly amounts of legislation was pushed through,” Stone said.

Elected to represent Warren and Center Line in Michigan’s 28th District last November, Stone said she watched as more than 300 pieces of legislation were “pushed through” in two months. She said about 200 of them were approved.

“You’re just realizing that a lot of people may not have understood what they were voting on at the time with how quickly things were moving through,” Stone said.

She said requiring a two-thirds vote would add “a layer of accountability and transparency” after an election, when many legislators may be in their last days of service.

Wojno said he served in the Michigan House of Representatives during lame duck sessions in 1998, 2000 and 2002. He was elected in November 2018 to represent District 9 in the Michigan Senate, which includes the communities of Warren, Center Line, Clinton Township, Eastpointe, Fraser and Roseville.

“There’s never been an amount of legislation that was pushed through during lame duck like there was in ’18,” Wojno said.

Bipartisan support for the joint resolution includes Republican District 82 state Rep. Gary Howell, of North Branch. In January, Howell proposed just eliminating the legislative period immediately after the November election, before new lawmakers are sworn in in January, in even-numbered years as a way of curtailing the lame duck session, where he said, “Term-limited lawmakers vote on issues for which they never have to answer to the voters.”

Howell proposed the same resolution in 2017, but it was not given a hearing.

Wojno said the joint resolution introduced last month would still allow legislators to get important business done after the election, such as emergency appropriations.

“If it is extremely important to the state of Michigan, we still have the ability to do it,” Wojno said.

The joint resolution was introduced by Stone on June 18 and referred to the Committee on Government Operations the following day.