Michigan House plans to kill Republicans’ lame duck power grab

The GOP majority in the state Senate had tried to take away the powers of incoming Democratic Secretary of State.

Michigan Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson (D)
Michigan Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson (D). CREDIT: Benson's Twitter feed

After Republicans lost their hold on key political positions in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky in the 2018 Blue Wave, lame duck legislative Republicans have drawn national attention for their efforts to strip power from the newly elected Democrats and to ram through as much legislation as possible while they still can.

In Michigan, the Republican-controlled legislature already cancelled a popular minimum wage increase and weakened the state’s paid leave policy in the final days before Democrat Gretchen Whitmer replaces Republican Governor Rick Synder. But it appears their effort to strip Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) of her powers may have been a bridge too far for the state’s House.

A bill to take away campaign finance oversight from the new Secretary of State, proposed by Republican state Sen. Dave Robertson, passed the Senate earlier this month. His proposal would have created a bipartisan committee, like the dysfunctional and frequently deadlocked Federal Election Commission, to oversee the issue. Robertson himself has been under an ethical cloud given his history of campaign finance fines and an ongoing criminal investigation into embezzlement by his former campaign treasurer and chief of staff.

State Rep. Aaron Miller (R) said Wednesday that the House Elections and Ethics Committee, which he chairs, would not consider the bill during the lame duck session, due to “lack of support.” That likely means the bill is dead; in a statement Benson praised the committee’s decision to stop “hyper-partisan legislation that would have effectively ended the enforcement of Michigan’s campaign finance law.”