Legislature, governor tout bipartisanship, but will election get in the way?


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s a new year and the Legislature is back in Lansing to take up some big issues. Billions of federal dollars for COVID-19 relief have yet to be spent, amid other priorities.

“At the end of the year, we had some great bipartisan work that we were able to get done around economic development, around supporting businesses and around getting some of the COVID relief dollars out. But there’s a lot more to do,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told News 8 when asked about the coming year.

She suggested to she would pursue more bipartisan projects in 2022. An almost identical response came from state House Republican Tax Policy Chair Rep. Matt Hall of Marshall, hardly a Whitmer ally.

“So at the end of last year, you saw we worked together in a bipartisan way to put together a way to … land large deals. I want to continue that this year,” Hall said.

But 2022 is an election year, with every member of the state Senate, state House and the governor up for election — and elections have a way of making that kind of cooperation sometimes more difficult.

“We also have an election year coming up, right? And none of us can focus on that,” Whitmer said. “We’ve got important things to do in the first couple of quarters of this year.”

Hall put forth a shorter time frame:

“I think we’ve got about three or four months and then you start getting into filing deadlines and then the August primary,” he said.

Asked whether Republicans who control the Legislature and the Democratic governor are in a better place now to work in a bipartisan way — something that has been missing for most of the past two years — state Rep. Terry Sabo, D-Muskegon, said they must be.

“We need to be in a better place because there are a lot of people, 10 million people, counting on us to do the right thing. They don’t care about Democrat stuff, they don’t care about Republican stuff, they want to see action,” Sabo said. “They want to see some relief. They want to see us working together and that’s what we need to do as a state government.”

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