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Michigan Senate Republicans held the line on House Bill 4001; will Democrats change the rules?

Two months into majority leadership in the legislature, Democrats look to change the rules of the game

When the Michigan Legislature returns to work Tuesday, among its unfinished business will be House Bill 4001 of 2023, which would swap a permanent tax cut for a one-time $180 check to tax filers. The bill would also approve a new round of funding for corporate welfare.

If House Bill 4001 does not take effect by April 18, there will be no $180 checks. This is because the Democratic majority plans to move funds into the prior fiscal year to avoid the tax-cut trigger, a move that would have to take immediate effect. Both houses have passed versions of the bill and approved the conference committee version with simple majorities.

Read House Bill 4001 for yourself

Immediate effect is a higher hill to climb. Under current rules, it takes two-thirds of the Michigan Senate to agree.

The only way the bill would take effect by April 18 is if it passes with immediate effect, rather than observing the 90-day waiting period before a Michigan law takes effect.

Of the 18 Senate Republicans, 13 “no” votes would prevent immediate effect. Senate Republicans did better than that, offering 17 no votes on the question of immediate effect. Only one senator, Sen. Ed McBroom, dean of the Republican caucus, did not vote.

Related reading: Senate Republicans could preserve a tax cut by voting no on House Bill 4001

Michigan Senate Journal 17 of 2023, for Feb. 16, shows Sen. Sam Singh made a request for immediate effect, and that request failed.

Then Singh moved that “further consideration” of the bill be postponed, and the Senate agreed.

The talk in Lansing is that the Michigan Senate may pursue a rule change regarding immediate effect, moving to the House model.

The Michigan House and Senate handle immediate effect differently. In the House, it takes a simple voice vote, which always goes in the direction of the majority. In the Senate, an actual vote is tallied.

The Legislature has been under Democratic control for two months, with the thinnest of majorities: 56 to 54 in the House, 20 to 18 in the Senate.

Two months in, rather than doing the work of convincing their colleagues, Democrats who “hold all the gavels” are talking about changing the rules of the game.

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.