Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

Rs Don't Get Bills On Agenda; Caucus Votes No On Wozniak Bill

02/07/24 04:24 PM By Team MIRS

(Source: MIRS.news, Published 02/06/2024) The latest episode in the saga that is the 54-54 split House had the majority of the House Republican caucus voting no on one of their own members’ bills, after House Democrats did not put eight Republican-requested bills on the agenda. 


Similar to an infamous couch within the '90s sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S., House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) said Hall’s leadership and instructing the caucus to vote no on a bill that moved out of committee unanimously, is a “pivot” away from his previous calls for bipartisan solutions and should not be taken seriously. 


“Clearly Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Kalamazoo) is not serious right now, because we're talking about bipartisan legislation that was actually sponsored by one of his caucus members,” Tate said. 


So far this season, the 54-54 split House finds Democrats still maintaining leadership control, but they can’t advance any legislation without Republican support. Republicans have called for some sort of shared power agreement, which Democrats have essentially shot down, keeping full committee control and the ability to set the agenda. 


On Monday, Hall sent a letter to Tate laying out a list of requests the caucus wants in exchange for Republican cooperation in the House, starting with eight bills negotiated last year as trade for Republican votes on the Land Value Tax plan (LVT). 


Hall said the passage of the common-sense legislation is long overdue, despite the LVT failing due to a lack of Democratic caucus support, and House Republican Spokesperson Jeremiah Ward said the bills were promised passage by December of 2023. 


“It’s February,” he said. 


Democrats didn’t put those eight bills on the agenda, instead putting up Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek)’s HB 4864 and Rep. Douglas C. Wozniak (R-Shelby Township)’s HB 4864 Tuesday, which have been included on previous agendas this year but haven’t yet moved. 


In response, Republicans voted no on Wozniak’s bill, which failed, 54-49. Republican Reps. Robert Bezotte (R-Howell), David Martin (R-Davison), Josh Schriver (R-Oxford), Donni Steele (R-Lake Orion) and Douglas C. Wozniak (R-Shelby Township) abstained from voting altogether. 


Wozniak cited House Rule 31, which allows a member to dissent or abstain from voting because of a potential conflict of interest. 


His remarks printed in the House journal were, “Pursuant to House Rule 31, I am recusing myself from voting on HB 4864 to avoid an appearance of impropriety.” 


He was not made available for further comment. 


Ward said, “Today, the caucus said not this bill." 


He said Republicans want to see the negotiated bills done first. 


When asked about the message that Republicans voting against one of their own members’ legislation sends, Wards said “the message is that the Speaker needs to live up to the promises that he negotiated in October.” 


Ward did not confirm that future Republican legislation would also be shot down unless the LVT-negotiated bills are taken up first. 


He repeated the statement that the caucus is going to evaluate every bill each session day to make a decision, “but today, with that bill that came up, the caucus had not agreed to support that." 


When asked how long the standoff could continue if Democrats don’t put up these eight Republican bills, Hall did not say either way. 


“I understand how difficult it is for the Democrats to accept that they've lost their majority, but the body is tied,” he said. “And in a tied body, you’ve got to figure out a way to get it done. Speaker Tate… (has) come up here many times and said, ‘I control the gavel.’ Well, with that comes some responsibility.” 


Hall added that Tate is trying to “confuse all you guys (the press) into blaming me when he’s the one with the gavel.” 


When asked about Tate’s ability to set the agenda as the gavel-holding speaker, Hall said, “he only has the gavel because . . . he’s pouting.” 


“I’ve said this many times, the strongest leaders share their power,” Hall said, and added that he would come up with some way to share power in a similar situation if he had been elected speaker. 


Tate did not give any indication that Democrats would cave to Republican requests to determine what bills are on the agenda. 


“At the end of the day, we're not going to be held hostage,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, we want to get things started.” 


He referenced a Rep. William Bruck (R-Erie) bill that received Republican support several weeks ago. 


“That got support, but when we actually want to get into additional policy and kind of move the ball forward . . . Michigan residents again get slapped in the face,” he said.


Tate said his question to Hall now is, “Why isn't he listening to Rick Snyder right now?” 


The former governor has jumped on board to Republican caucus fundraising efforts.


“Apparently, the former governor was saying, ‘why don't we work together to find policies that move the state forward?’ And yet, House Republicans don't want to do that, even when there is an opportunity,” Tate said. “ So it's frustrating. It's disappointing that we have to play these games that we're playing right now, because the residents of Michigan don't have time for this.” 


Tate said he thought there was a bright spot on the horizon when he heard that Snyder was in charge of the caucus, “but clearly that’s not the case, because we’re still not listening to him.”