Dozen of legislators celebrated the 2018 Lame Duck session by hanging their own ornament on a $379.5 million General Fund Christmas Tree spending bill. The bill retained most of Governor Rick Snyder's original requests, but legislators added some $200 million in special legislative projects for their districts. The Christmas Tree bill did NOT include an additional $10 million for legislative operations and $18 million for a parking ramp for lawmakers and their staff since their parking spaces behind the Capitol have been turned into a construction mess for the time being and will remain that way for another year before the outside Capitol construction is completed.
Money was dedicated to get a better handle on the growing PFAS contamination issue which will receive a combined $20 million, roads got $115 million more, $15 million was put into hiring 175 more child protective services with another $5 million going to CPS technology. Legislators put $100 million into the rainy day fund, $52 million into the Soo Locks and $4.5 million for the Mackinaw Straits tunnel and $200 million was freed up for legislators special in district requests and the list goes on.
In November 2018, Democrats obtained control of the state's top four elected officials by electing Gretchen Whitmer as Governor, Jacelyn Benson as Secretary of State and Dana Nessel was elected Attorney General. The Senate and House maintained a Republican advantage, but both lost seats to Democrats. Republicans in the Senate will maintain control with a 22-16 majority and the House Republicans will reign with a 58-52 majority.
Senator Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake was elected to serve as Senate Majority Leader. Senator Jim Stamas, R-Midland serves as the Chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford serves as Senate Floor Leader. Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering was elected to be the Speaker of the House and Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona was elected to serve as House Majority Floor Leader. Rep. Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell was elected to serve as the House Speaker Pro-Tempore.
Senator Jim Ananich, D-Flint, remained the Senate Minority Leader and incoming Senator Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit now serves as the Senate Minority Leader. Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills was elected to be the House Minority Leader and Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor was elected to serve as Minority Floor Leader. Committee assignments expect to be named in early February. Legislative directories are expected to be available in February.
Beginning the second Wednesday in January we have some 72 "newbie" legislators to meet and greet and to introduce to our issues.