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Frequently Asked Questions: The CapCon Guide to Lansing

Michigan sends 148 lawmakers to represent 10 million people. Here’s how to find out what they’re up to

The people of Michigan send 148 legislators — 110 representatives and 38 senators — to their capital city to make law on their behalf. Here’s how you can find out what these lawmakers are up to in Lansing.

Who is my representative?

Find your House representative on the Michigan House website. Using a search tool, I found that my representative is Helena Scott, D-Detroit.

The Senate website lets you find your senator. My senator is Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak.

Here’s a list of every member of the Michigan Legislature.

The CapCon Guide: How to be an effective citizen-advocate in Michigan

Who donates to my legislators?

Check the Michigan Campaign Finance Database, hosted by the Secretary of State.

The Contributions report shows who has donated to the legislator. Expenditures shows how legislators spend their campaign funds.

For the congressional delegation, search Federal Election Commission campaign finance records.

Such a search produced multiple stories on Sen. Debbie Stabenow, from her nearly $56,000 worth of contributions from FTX staffers. A search for expenditures found Stabenow’s $25,000 donation to the Historical Society of Michigan.

Related reading: The CapCon Guide to Congress

How many laws have been enacted this year?

According to the Public Acts Table on the Legislature’s website, 30 bills have become law as of May 10.

What bills have my legislators sponsored?

Start your search at the Michigan Legislature’s website. On the left side of the page, click on bills.

Click on “by sponsor,” and find your senator or representative on the pull-down menu. House members are on the left, senators are on the right.

Scott has submitted 10 bills, three of which involve ceremonial days. Two of them, House Bill 4457, and House Bill 4519, would designate Juneteenth (June 19) and Negro Leagues Day (May 2), respectively, as holidays in Michigan. A fourth bill is a resolution to declare March 8, 2023 International Women’s Day in Michigan.

McMorrow has submitted six other bills. Senate Bill 294 would make it a civil infraction to release balloons into the air, with fines beginning at $800.

What kind of bills have been proposed?

Say you’re interested in energy legislation, or labor. Click on the category search, then use the pulldown menu to find the categories you’re looking for.

Legislators have so far submitted 18 energy-related bills and 56 labor-related bills. They have submitted 555 bills in the House and another 338 in the Senate.

How do my legislators spend their days?

There are two public-facing aspects to consider. The first is committee work. Chairing a committee carries power, as does serving on important committees, such as appropriations.

The website for each legislator has the usual self-promotional language, but if you look around, you’ll probably find a page that lists the relevant committees for your representative or senator. Here, for example, is a list of McMorrow’s committee assignments.

The best way to learn about committee work, however, is to work in reverse, starting with the committees themselves.

Michigan House Committees

Michigan Senate Committees

What happens in committee?

When a bill is introduced, it is referred to the appropriate committee. Some bills are considered, often after hearings. Not every bill gets a hearing or a vote.

Here’s every bill submitted to every committee this year, sorted by committee.

If a committee approves a bill, it heads to the full House or Senate.

Here’s which committees are meeting this week.

What happens on the Senate or House floor?

The second aspect of being a legislator is what that person does on the Senate or House floor.

For this, you can use the House and Senate journals, which are the state equivalent of the Congressional Record. They capture each legislator’s remarks on the floor, record roll call vote tallies as well as official protests.

What has your rep been involved in? What are Michigan lawmakers talking about on the public’s time? Find out here:

2023 House Journals

2023 Senate Journals

How is a law made in Michigan?

The House and Senate must pass a bill in identical form, and it must be signed by the governor.

If the governor vetoes a bill, lawmakers can override that veto by passing the bill again with two-thirds support in each chamber.

Who was the House speaker 20 years ago?

Check out the Michigan Manual, which has rosters of House and Senate leadership dating back to 1835, before Michigan was a state.

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.