Michigan’s 100th Legislature Under Way

Friday, February 1, 2019

Michigan’s 100th Legislative Session has begun with a host of new faces in Lansing and a push for bipartisan cooperation. While Republicans have retained control of the House and Senate the margins of their majority have shrunk, and with a Democrat in the Governor’s office, the only way to tackle the tough issues is to work together and seek compromise.

I am excited to be returning to the powerful Appropriations Committee for my second term in the House. As you may know, the Appropriations Committee is responsible for creating and overseeing our state’s $57 billion annual budget. As summarized by the House Fiscal Agency, The state budget for Michigan serves the following purposes:

●      Establishes a plan for state expenditures

●      Identifies means of financing those expenditures

●      Allocates available resources according to executive and legislative priorities

●      Distributes state resources to local governments and other external service providers

●      Provides tools to monitor spending and hold agencies and departments accountable

In other words, the Michigan Constitution gives the Legislature the power of the purse; no money can be paid out of the state treasury except in pursuance of appropriations made by law. This power is key to making the Legislature a coequal branch of government. The power of the purse is also a tool that may be used by the Legislature to hold departments accountable for compliance with legislative mandates.

As the largest of the House committees, responsibilities for departmental budgets are divided into subcommittees. This session my subcommittee assignments are Transportation, Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and a new subcommittee which combines the former State Police and Military and Veterans Affairs subcommittees. I serve as the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and LARA subcommittees with the official title of Democratic Vice Chair.

The Transportation Subcommittee oversees an approximately $5 billion budget that includes funding for:

●      Construction and preservation of the state trunkline highway system

●      Construction and preservation of local road systems (83 road commissions and 531 cities and villages)

●      Public transportation programs including capital and operating assistance to 81 public transit agencies, and capital and operating assistance for rail passenger service in Michigan

●      Aeronautics programs including capital assistance to local airports through the federal Airport Improvement Program

●      Administration of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ operations are supported mainly through fees generated from its licensing programs and thus its adjusted gross budget totals only about a half billion dollars annually. LARA comprises agencies and programs that regulate the following sectors:

●      Alcoholic beverage distribution and sales

●      Commercial and occupational activities

●      Construction and fire safety

●      Energy and public utilities

●      Health care and human services

●      Medical marijuana

●      Adult-Use Marijuana

●      Occupational safety and health

●      Rehabilitation services for the blind

●      Workers’ compensation

Agencies within LARA also conduct administrative hearings for state departments, provide support for various commissions, and administer several grant programs.

The combined budgets of the Michigan State Police and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs total just under one billion dollars. I am excited to be a member of this new subcommittee and look forward to streamlining the efficiencies this natural partnership may produce.

The Department of State Police provides law enforcement and public safety services throughout the state. In addition to primary law enforcement, criminal investigation, and traffic safety duties, the department is also responsible for the administration and implementation of state programs, technologies, and services that enhance the capabilities and coordination of federal, state, and local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs serves the dual purpose of providing an operational military force in support of state and federal homeland security needs and providing a network of services and programs in support of the state’s veteran population and their families.

If you have any questions about Michigan’s 100th Legislature or the Appropriations Subcommittees on which I serve, please don’t hesitate to call the office.