In this Edition
- Lame Duck Review
- In the News
- Year-End Highlights
LAME DUCK REVIEW
What is “lame duck,” anyway?
“Lame duck” sessions occur every two years following the November elections before the new Legislature convenes in January. During this period, there are a number of legislators who have either lost their elections or who have termed out of office, meaning they won’t be coming back in January. These legislators are informally known as “lame ducks.”
This period is the last chance for any of the bills introduced over the previous two years to pass. If a bill isn’t passed before the close of the session, it dies, and must be re-introduced when the new Legislature convenes the following year.
Some have criticized lame duck sessions since one could make the argument that those legislators not returning the next session are no longer accountable to their voters, and have advocated for the elimination of the session between an election and the new term.
This is why you typically see dozens of bills and many late nights as legislators make their last push on their bills before the session closes.
A Recap of Lame Duck 2020
Due to the sheer volume of the amount of bills we passed in this lame duck session, we are linking to the full list of bills that were on the agenda over the past couple of weeks. You can find a more detailed description of everything that passed here:
- Lame Duck Session Day 12/9
- Lame Duck Session Day 12/10
- Lame Duck Session Day 12/16
- Lame Duck Session Day 12/17
- Lame Duck Session Day 12/18
Major Lame Duck Highlights
Late this past Friday night, Dec. 18, the Michigan Senate passed a $465 million supplemental budget bill targeted at COVID-19 relief. Here are some highlights of what these funds will support:
- $110 million to increase pay for direct-care workers
- $45 million in unemployment assistance for workers who have been impacted by COVID-19
- $55 million in small-business assistance and relief, including up to $20,000 for businesses that have had to fully close, and up to $15,000 for those that have had to partially close. Additionally, this includes a separate $3.5 million grant program for entertainment venues.
- $55 million for vaccine distribution efforts
- $5 million for property deferral program
- $3.4 million for rapid testing of teachers and other school employees
- $2.5 million in grants for certain full-time teachers
Senate Bill 748 passed the Senate 35-2 (I voted yes), was approved in the House on Dec. 21, and is now headed to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
Other Legislation that Passed / On Its Way to the Governor
Creates an Address Confidentiality Program for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Public School Employees Act
Amends the Public-School Employees Act to extend the time period during which public school retirees can be rehired as school renewal coaches or high impact leadership facilitators, so that they are eligible to draw both a salary and their pension benefits concurrently.
Domestic Violence Unemployment Benefits
This legislation, which I co-sponsored, extends the sunsets on several provisions related to unemployment insurance (UI), and states that a victim of domestic violence is not disqualified from receiving UI if he/she must leave his/her job.
College Athlete Namesake
Allows college athletes to earn compensation for their name, image, or likeness rights.
Thoughts on the Election
While there was a lot of good, bipartisan legislation and a crucial COVID-19 relief package that moved during the past few weeks, I was disheartened and frustrated to see the continued push from some colleagues to seed doubt in our November elections.
It has now been nearly a month-and-a-half since the general election, for which all votes have been counted, canvasses completed, audits commenced, and dozens of lawsuits filed (and dismissed) for lack of evidence related to any widespread voter fraud.
I have built a strong relationship with election officials throughout our district and have been a vocal advocate for reform that would improve our elections process, expand access to the ballot box, and ensure timely, secure results. And I applaud every official, poll worker, and volunteer who stepped up and put in months — if not years — of preparation, and who ran a successful, secure election with record turnout in the face of an unprecedented year full of challenges.
Continuing to fan the flames of widely-discredited theories of fraud not only sows doubt in our elections, but it can also have the unintended consequences of depressing voter turnout in the future and driving away dedicated, qualified election officials from the profession at a time when we need them the most.
In fact, I stood up on the Senate floor in opposition to a resolution that sought to continue to lend credibility to these damaging claims and spoke in support of election officials, recognizing one of the best clerks in the country, Rochester Hills’ own Tina Barton. I also shared what these continued efforts have meant for our office and all legislative offices as the center of national attention — disturbing distractions that make it significantly more challenging for us to do our work serving you.
IN THE NEWS
On Monday, Dec. 14, MIRS, a Lansing-based news network, nominated me, alongside a few of my colleagues, for Democratic Legislator of the Year. In such an unprecedented and challenging year, I am so grateful to be acknowledged alongside these powerful and impactful legislators. Congratulations to Senator Sylvia Santana for receiving the award. She has been an amazing advocate for her constituents and has done incredible work on the Jail and Pretrial Incarceration Task Force.
NPR Politics recently published an article discussing how state governments have navigated COVID-19 and the resistance of many to evolve with contingency plans to continue work remotely — and what that means for residents of those states. In their Dec. 22 article, I discuss Senate Joint Resolution O, a resolution I introduced back in April that would have allowed for remote voting in the Michigan Legislature.
COVID-19 turned this year on its head. As the pandemic’s impact swept through the state, our office immediately shifted priorities to ensure our full focus could be on helping constituents navigate the crisis, providing as many resources as we could and assisting in as many ways as possible. We worked with our local government leaders, the Oakland County Health Department, Oakland County Michigan Works, and our colleagues in the legislature to focus on getting families and businesses in our community the resources and information they need.
Looking back on the year, we’ve put together a few highlights of what our office was able to accomplish for our district:
Wishing you and yours a safe, healthy holiday season.