News Story

In Michigan, the lame duck won’t quack

Republican-controlled Legislature will end its reign with a thin schedule; Whitmer signs nearly 1,000 bills in first term

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer came close to signing 1,000 laws in her first term, but probably won’t hit that milestone.

As of Oct. 24, Whitmer had signed 976 bills into law during her nearly four years in office, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential research, based on Public Acts Tables, published by the Legislative Service Bureau. Lansing media reports indicate a thin lame-duck schedule for the rest of the year.

The lame-duck session is what comes after an election and before the new Legislature is sworn in. Bills can still be passed during lame duck, including important ones. Right-to-work was signed during a lame-duck session in December 2012.

With Democrats taking power in January, further lawmaking is expected to be sparse, if it happens at all.

As Gongwer reported Monday:

The House this morning sent an updated session schedule showing this week the body will not take attendance nor vote. Next week, the House is planning to meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 6, and Wednesday, December 7. Thursday, December 8, is listed as a tentative session day.

For the Senate, a spokesperson said the body will have a regular session day tomorrow, November 29. Future session days will be determined later.

Even if the Republicans who control the Legislature were in a lawmaking mood, Whitmer holds veto power. She exercised it in October when she vetoed eight bills that would have placed guardrails on the use of emergency powers. Michigan still has 30 laws that grant emergency powers to the governor or executive branch.

According to the Michigan House Journal, Whitmer wrote in her Oct. 14 veto message:

These bills do not rest on a careful, considered attempt to understand the needs of our departments and agencies, nor do they grapple with the real threats that sometimes necessitate swift action to keep Michiganders safe and to save lives. By restricting executive branch authority in times of crisis, they would limit the state’s ability to protect the people we represent. We as leaders have a responsibility to put Michiganders’ safety and security first. These bills undermine that core responsibility.

I will not tie the hands of future Michigan governors or eliminate tools that could safeguard the people of Michigan.

The eight-bill package Whitmer vetoed was among her 24 vetoes this year, according to the Public Acts Table for 2022.

In January, Democrats will control both chambers of the Michigan Legislature.

CapCon has offered several previews of what to expect from Lansing in 2023.


Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.