LANSING, Mich. — Bipartisanship, lawmakers say that is the name of the game as the state Legislature gears up for Democratic control for the first time in four decades.
“We certainly want to accelerate the progress that we've made," said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrest III.
Democrats in Michigan have a slim majority in both the state House and Senate chambers, alongside Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, following a banner election cycle for the party. But will this new majority help lawmakers pass more bills?
"I'm hopeful we can push forward on Democratic priorities," said state Sen. Jeremy Moss. "For 40 years, the Senate has been under Republican control. And so that means Republicans really have had a veto power on state government for a generation and more."
But Republican leaders tell me even with a Democratic majority, the Democrats will still need significant bipartisanship to get results.
“Obviously with such a slim majority, House Democrats will need House Republicans to pass any legislation," said Republican Speaker of the Michigan House Jason Wentworth.
Let’s take a look at those majorities. There are 110 members in the state House, and after the election earlier this month, Democrats control 56 of those seats to Republicans' 54 seats. There are 38 seats in the state Senate where Democrats now have 20 seats to Republicans’ 18 seats.
“In order to get anything passed as a Democrat, I've had to reach out across the aisle and garner Republican support," said Moss. "So that's how we're kind of wired. We're wired to seek bipartisan solutions first. But this is also an opportunity for Republicans to drop kind of this extreme fringe from their party and also meet us in the middle.”
Democrats will take the helm in the new year, and we’ll be watching just how hard they hit the ground running.
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