House Republicans unite to reject amendment to previously passed children’s group home bill  ⋆

It was a light day agenda-wise for the Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday as they slowly get back up to speed in 2024, but cracks that emerged at the end of the 2023 session became apparent once again.

Amid a resolution acknowledging Wetland Conservation Week and a bill renaming a section of roadway, came what at first appeared to be a routine vote on an amendment to previously passed Senate Bill 227 involving children’s therapeutic group homes.

As written, the bill would amend the childcare licensing act to “allow emergency safety intervention in the form of physical management in certain child care organizations and require that those interventions comply with the Mental Health Code and associated administrative rules.”

House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) at the Mackinac Policy Conference on June 1, 2023. (Andrew Roth/)

When it came up for a vote in the House in November, it passed overwhelmingly, 105-4. However, Wednesday’s attempt to amend the bill failed on a 52-52 tie vote. Two Democrats and two Republicans did not vote on Wednesday’s amendment.

While Democrats still hold control of the House, the departure of former state Reps. Lori Stone (D-Warren) and Kevin Coleman (D-Westland) after winning their respective mayoral elections in November has left each party in the House with 54 seated members. 

House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) posted to social media later Wednesday a picture of the tally board in the House showing the tie vote, along with a message for House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit).

“Mr. Speaker, it takes 55 votes to pass a bill,” said Hall. “Rejecting bipartisan conversations, rushing amendments, and holding votes before even asking Republicans if they support the final bill — these are not the recipe for getting the people’s work done.”

Hall has repeatedly argued that the split house demands power-sharing between the parties, while Tate has noted the rules put in place by both parties at the beginning of the session dictate that Democrats still control the house, with 55 Republicans and 55 Democrats needed to demand such an agreement. 

Hall used Wednesday’s vote to reiterate that position.

“As Republicans and Democrats represent the people of Michigan and share power in the House of Representatives, we have a unique opportunity to collaborate and tackle the huge challenges facing our state,” he said. “We should strategize on how to grow our economy, permanently fund road repairs, and help ensure kids are learning to read. But Democrats clearly aren’t interested in having conversations about how to share power or what major policy goals we can pursue together.”

When asked for a response to Hall’s message, Tate spokesperson Amber McCann sent the Advance the following:

“All the social media posts in the world won’t make up for the fact that Matt Hall pushed his Republican colleagues to vote against a Republican bill to keep kids safe.”

When asked what the issue was with the amendment, House Republican spokesperson Jeremiah Ward told the that it inserted language which every House Republican had previously voted against in a separate bill, Senate Bill 88, that had already gone to the governor. 

Democrats win mayoral races in Westland and Warren — and temporarily lose Michigan House majority

That bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in October, mandates that Michigan schools and childcare centers implement a drinking water management plan. While House Republicans voted against it at the time, Democrats still retained their two seat majority, allowing it to pass 56-54.

“So if this bill had gone to the governor as it was without getting amended this morning, it would’ve undone that other bill,” said Ward. “But that other bill was a bill that Republicans opposed. It dealt with an unfunded mandate for childcare centers and so because we didn’t support that other bill, we didn’t want to pass this amended version of this bill that would basically be like readopting that other bill that we previously opposed.”

Rep. Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids) told the Advance after Wednesday’s session that until the two seats are filled following a special primary election on Jan. 30 and general election on April 16, there may be more standoffs like this.

“We’re clearly going to spend the first couple of weeks here back in session deciding how we’re going to work together for the next four months,” he said. “They’re going to have to make a decision whether they want to pass good bipartisan legislation or whether they just want to take votes for campaign messaging reasons.”

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authored by Jon King
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F01%2F18%2Fhouse-republicans-unite-to-reject-amendment-to-previously-passed-childrens-group-home-legislation%2F

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