Wasting no time, Democratic Michigan lawmakers announce 1st series of bills for 2023

Dems say working families center of new agenda

FILE - The state Capitol building is seen on Dec. 12, 2012, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The first Democratic majority seen in the Michigan Legislature in decades is kicking off 2023 by immediately introducing a series of bills to address several hot button issues.

A number of Democrats from the state House and Senate introduced six bills on Wednesday, Jan. 11, the first day of the legislature’s first session. Wasting no time with their newfound congressional majority, the Democrats formally introduced the bills during their session on Thursday.

The six bills -- each one backed by one Democratic House representative and one Democratic senator -- address a variety of current social and economic issues. The actual bills themselves have not yet been published for the public, but officials have publicly announced the goals of each bill.

Here’s what the Democratic lawmakers have announced so far, as written by the Michigan Senate Democrats:

  • Legislation sponsored by Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township) and Sen. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) to repeal the retirement tax on Michigan seniors;
  • Legislation sponsored by Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) and Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) to enable workers to keep more of their hard-earned dollars through an increased Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC);
  • Legislation sponsored by Rep. Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield) and Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) to expand Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include anti-discrimination protections for sexual and gender identity;
  • Legislation sponsored by Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac) and Sen. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe) to restore the state’s prevailing wage law;
  • Legislation sponsored by Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) and Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) to restore workers’ rights by repealing the so-called “Right to Work” policy;
  • Legislation sponsored by Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) and Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) to repeal Michigan’s 1931 statute that criminalizes abortion care.

Controversy surely runs deep with many of these bills, as some of these issues have been at the center of battles for years. For example, Michigan lawmakers have repeatedly attempted to repeal the state’s 1931 law banning abortions, but a Republican majority in the legislature continued to uphold the law. Now, after months of legal battles over abortion regulation following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Michigan’s nearly century-old abortion ban may meet its end.

The Democratic majority is also seizing on the opportunity to repeal Michigan’s Right to Work policy, formally known as the Freedom to Work law, which was passed by Republican lawmakers and took effect in 2013. The law prohibits unionized workplaces from requiring employees to pay union dues and fees. Michigan is one of 27 states to carry the so-called non-union practice, and could become the first state in several decades to repeal such a law.

Still, the new state legislative body -- complete with a more diverse and young freshman class -- is vowing to reach across the aisle and work together in an effort to do what’s best for Michigan.

According to Rep. Joseph Tate (D-Detroit), the state House’s new speaker, the Democrats intend to focus on several different issues this session, including supporting workers, protecting families and addressing financial strains. Republican state lawmakers say they’ll be focusing on lowering taxes and bringing more manufacturing to Michigan.

See more here: Michigan lawmakers return to Lansing, vow to work together

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.