Lawmakers gear up for last week in Lansing for the year

Dec 10, 2019

State lawmakers plan to finish up their work in Lansing this week.

The state House is expected to vote on bills to restore funding for some of the items vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in late September.

The state House is expected to vote on bills to restore funding for some of the items vetoed by Whitmer in late September.  She vetoed nearly a billion dollars worth of the items in the budget sent to her by the Republican majority in the state Legislature. She said she had to because she was shut out of the budget negotiations. 

Lawmakers are not saying what is in the potential deal they reached with Whitmer that could convince her to sign the supplemental spending bill. But the deal will likely include changes to the powers of the state administrative board. Whitmer previously used the board to move around millions of dollars in the state budget — much to the frustration of Republican lawmakers.

A large package of bills to legalize online gambling and sports betting could also hit Whitmer’s desk before the end of the year.

Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) is the leader of the Democrats in the state Senate. He told reporters that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been working with the governor to try to find a compromise on the gambling bills.

“They’re trying to find an equitable arrangement that brings in enough revenue to make it worthwhile, but also expands the option for Michigan residents,” he said. 

Whitmer’s main concern is the possibility of drawing money away from the state Lottery, which puts money toward the School Aid Fund. Whitmer and supporters have been trying to determine what the tax rate on the new gambling methods should be.

One item that lawmakers won’t be making progress on is funding for the state’s roads.

Amber McCann is a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake). She said road funding has not been discussed for months.

McCann told reporters, “I don’t foresee any discussions taking place on road funding in the limited time we have posted from now until the end of the year.”