LANSING — State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) called for the passage today of House Joint Resolution I, bipartisan legislation which would abolish the “lame duck” session that follows legislative elections. Shielded from accountability from voters for another two years, the practice of rushing through controversial legislation during this period has become common. This week, legislative Republicans abused the practice when they took less than 48 hours to vote through bills to gut two citizen-initiated laws to increase the minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave.
“Too many legislators treat lame duck like a free pass — they have forgotten who they work for,” said Camilleri. “Some of the worst bills passed in the last six years have happened during this period because there are legislators willing to exploit the fact that they’re two years from another election. They think no one is going to hold them accountable for it, and the results have been disastrous for Michigan’s working families.”
In the 2015-2016 legislative session, nearly one in three bills signed into law was signed after the 2016 election. That session, a bipartisan group of legislators also introduced a joint resolution — HJR M — to abolish lame duck, with Speaker of the House-elect, Lee Chatfield, co-sponsoring the bill. However, since joining majority leadership this session, Chatfield did not choose to co-sponsor the identical HJR I introduced in March of 2017 by a Republican colleague.
“Legislators are elected to serve the people, but once Election Day has passed, some seem to forget that,” said state Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “From legislation gutting the pay and benefits of hardworking men and women across the state to bills that would drastically alter the separation of powers that stabilize our democracy, lame duck sessions have unfortunately produced policies that do not receive a full vetting and would do considerable damage in our state. This issue is not a partisan one – whoever is in power always has the opportunity to abuse this, period, and that’s exactly why lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe it is time for this practice to end.”
“As we’re seeing now, with Republicans pushing vindictive legislation meant to strip powers away from the incoming Democratic executive officers, this period of time is often abused,” said state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton). “Without the accountability that comes from knowing your job is in the balance in the short term, legislators openly and brazenly vote in favor of the special interests that paid for their campaigns, and the people of Michigan are worse off for it.”