In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
This Ain't Fiddler on the Roof
The Michigan legislature is a tradition-laden institution and if lawmakers were smart, which they aren't, they would scrap many of the traditions, which they won't. High on the "to-eliminate" list should be the month of January. While most working slugs around the state will head back to the grindstone this week, the state's lawmakers will not. Oh sure, some of them may move into their new offices, others will take phone calls at home and do some constituent work but basically there will be no legislating during this entire month. Both the house and senate do return next week, but tradition dictates that when a new session begins, no one is in a hurry for a variety of excuses: There are 44 new members of the house who have to settle in. The House Speaker has to re- configureate all the committees with new and old members. And all this takes time. Years ago nothing got started until the governor delivered the State of the State which set the agenda for the New Year. The tradition was that a few days after lawmakers reconvened, the governor spoke. That traditional under this governor has changed---for the worse. Instead of the SOS in mid-January, Gov. Jennifer Granholm has waited until the end of the month and sometimes even into early February to set the legislative stage which will likely be the case this year. Hey what's the rush? There are no pressing issues. The state's economy is on life support along with its major industry. The jobless rate is inching toward 10-11%. There's another pool of red ink surrounding the budget. And the battle cry to reform state government now, is heard everywhere, except in this town. There is no reason in the world why committees could not be established during December so everyone could hit the ground running in January. There is no reason why the governor could not get it in gear to deliver her speech next week, and there is no reason why state taxpayers should have to wait a month to get a full return on their investment in 148 legislators. Oh yeah, forgot, there is a reason…tradition.