Review our Governmental Relations Update - Caucus Call: Lansing

Peter J. Langley

Caucus Call Lansing

This Week's Updates

The Michigan House and Senate will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Michigan ARP Spending Starting to Take Shape

  • Who needs to know: Businesses and government agencies that do work with the state of Michigan, specifically in the area of infrastructure.
  • Potential impact: The state has $11 billion to spend from the federal American Rescue Plan allotment, and the bulk of that money appears to be headed to infrastructure.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is part of the $1.9 trillion package passed by Congress earlier this year. Part of the plan is to distribute direct aid to states to combat the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The state of Michigan has not spent the bulk of this funding since receiving it earlier this year. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Legislative leaders have each proposed programs on how they would like to see the money used to make “transformative” changes to the state. In addition to the ARP funds, state revenues are coming in much higher than were anticipated earlier in the year.

Last week during a panel discussion hosted by the Michigan Credit Union League, it was revealed that the House Republican and Democratic leaders had an agreement with Gov. Whitmer and Senate leadership to spend the bulk of the money on the state’s infrastructure. While there doesn’t seem to be details yet on what they term “infrastructure,” it does appear to cover roads, bridges, water, sewers, broadband, schools, mental health facilities and dams. At this point, legislative leaders seem to be entertaining most requests for APR appropriations in trying to piece together their budget.

ICRC Puts 10 Maps Out For Public Hearing

  • Who needs to know: Anyone interested in the political environment for the next 10 years.
  • Potential impact: New districts for Congress, Senate and House could impact the policy decisions in the state for years to come.

In 2018, the people of the state of Michigan supported a constitutional amendment to make fundamental changes to the way Michigan draws its district boundaries. The amendment created the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC), a commission of citizens with the exclusive authority to adopt district boundaries for the Michigan Senate, House and U.S. Congress every 10 years. The ICRC consists of 13 registered voters randomly selected through an application process; four affiliated with the Democratic Party, four affiliated with the Republican Party, and five that do not affiliate with either major political party. The ICRC has been meeting since September 2020 and has recently put forth 10 proposed maps for public input.

Last week, the Commission adopted four proposed maps for the U.S. Congressional districts, three proposed maps for the state Senate districts, and three proposed maps for the state House districts. This week the Commission will start taking public testimony on the proposed maps. Almost immediately, the maps came under fire from both Republicans and Democrats for various reasons. Republicans attacked the maps because they were less compact and contiguous compared to maps they had proposed. Democrats attacked the maps for their lack of majority-minority districts the standards used to determine those districts. Most notably, the ICRC adopted the position that a district with at least a 40% minority population would be considered a majority-minority district, rather then the 50% used in previous maps. This issue alone could doom some of the plans to a lawsuit under the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Current elected officials are balking at the plans for other reasons. Under various iterations of the proposed plans, multiple sitting officials would be drawn into the same districts. Under the proposed state House plans, 20 incumbent House members are drawn into the same districts. 13 incumbent Senate members are drawn into the proposed state Senate plans. Finally, in the proposed U.S. Congressional districts, up to eight incumbents could have to face each other. Regardless of the outcome of the public hearings on the proposed maps, it appears that whatever plan the ICRC adopts will be headed to court for review.

Week Ahead:

  • Multiple proposed administrative rules will be heard Monday. These rules deal with rules for continuing education for investment advisors, general rules for architects, professional engineers, professional surveyors, and rule revisions for audiologists.
  • The Senate Regulatory Reform Committee will be taking testimony on Tuesday about legislation to allow liquor self-serve dispensing machines.
  • A presentation by the Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan will take place on Tuesday before the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee .
  • The Municipal Stability Board will meet Wednesday.
  • Proposed administrative rules on electric interconnection and net metering standards will be discussed at a public hearing on Wednesday.
  • The MRI Workgroup of the Certificate of Need Commission will meet on Thursday.
  • The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will meet multiple times this week to continue their work on reapportionment.

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