GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The election is over, but the new legislators aren't yet in place. So, in the next three weeks, the Michigan House and Senate will try to deal with issues they didn't finish in their regular session.
The "lame duck" session is also a time when departing legislators try to pass bills that might otherwise be politically untenable.
The term “lame duck” is associated nowadays with elected officials coming near the end of their term, specifically when their successor has already been elected. The term originated, however, with the London stock exchange in 1761, in reference to investors who were unable to pay debts. But by the 19th century, the United States commandeered the word to be used in reference to politicians. The image is that of a wounded duck which, during migration season, is suddenly unable to keep up with its flock, and is left behind to do as it pleases. This November, after the midterm elections, but before the new, and potentially conservative, Congress takes office, America may witness again the phenomenon of the “lame duck Congress.”
Lame duck Senators and Representatives lose their incentive to act responsibly, since they will not be made accountable for their actions in a future vote. Whether they are taking last-minute advantage of the perks of their position (lame duck Presidents, for instance, are known for granting a flurry of presidential pardons) or working in a last-minute frenzy to ensure they leave their mark behind, a brief bird-watching tour of lame duck history will show that lame ducks have a tendency to waddle as fast as they can.
Among those items are the Right To Work issue. After two union-friendly proposals were soundly defeated in the November election, some lawmakers might want to either capitalize on what they see as anti-union attitudes or exact a little revenge for those expense ballot measures.
So if a Right To Work bill showed any real signs of movement, this lame duck session would quickly escalate into a contentious end-of-year session. It would also put Gov. Rick Snyder in a bind. He has made it quite clear he doesn't want any Right To Work legislation on his desk.
It seems more likely, though, restructuring Blue Cross Blue Shield will get attention. It would become a mutual and lose its tax-exempt status while making it eligible to be in the health exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
In fact, the whole idea of Michigan being involved in the
health exchange could come up. Michigan has until December 14 to decide if they want to create one or have the federal government set one up.
Personal property tax relief for businesses is also on the agenda. A bill that would keep companies from paying the tax in perpetuity on equipment and other real property could help businesses. On Tuesday, Snyder laid out a plan to help local municipalities recover those lost revenues.
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Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.