Republicans ask Tate to take up bills on fertility fraud, correction officer retirement and more ⋆
The leader of the Michigan House Republican caucus says House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) reneged on a deal made last year for GOP support on priority tax legislation.
In a letter sent Monday, House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) noted the current state of balance in the House with each party currently having 54 seated members and again made a bid for shared power.
“This time of shared power is an opportunity to work together to address major issues in our state,” said Hall. “To promote collaboration, the Republican caucus has requested more bipartisan, open procedures in the House of Representatives. That includes balanced committees to foster consensus and public input at the very beginning of the legislative process and recorded votes on attempts to discharge bills and bypass the committee system to ensure a thorough review.”
While there are currently two vacant seats formerly held by Democrats, that situation is expected to be temporary, as both districts are heavily Democratic and special elections set for April 16 will likely return the Democrats’ 56-54 voting majority.
House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) and Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Twp.) take questions from reporters after the 2024 State of the State Address. | Kyle Davidson
Tate has previously made clear that House rules maintain his party’s control of the chamber and any shared power arrangement is out of the question.
However, Hall went a step further and asked Tate to “follow through on the promises you made last year when negotiating to pass your property tax priority.”
Hall said House Republicans had committed 10 votes in support of what he called “your number one legislative priority,” creating a Land Value Tax (LVT) for the city of Detroit.
The LVT is supported by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and would result in 97% of Detroit homeowners getting a permanent property tax cut starting in 2025, offset by taxes on vacant land more than doubling as a way to punish property owners who had allowed it to fall into disrepair, creating eyesores in Detroit neighborhoods.
After failing to win House passage in October, the LVT never came back up for a vote before the Legislature adjourned for the year. John Roach, Duggan’s spokesman, told the Advance in November that parties agreed that passing the bills in spring 2024 still provided enough time to put a measure on the November ballot.
“In light of the very few legislative days, the speaker proposed to take the LVT up first thing in January,” said Roach. “We were fully agreeable to that timetable.”
Hall, however, said regardless of whether it passed, 12 Republicans voted for the bill, which he noted had failed due to a lack of support by Democrats and that with January already passed, that bill and several others were still awaiting House approval.
House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) attends Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “What’s Next Address” in Lansing on Aug. 30, 2023. (Andrew Roth/)
“The purpose of this deal was to start the ball rolling with small steps to build trust between the parties after a year where few Republican bills passed the chamber and the lowest number of consensus votes were taken since the 1800s,” said Hall. “Unfortunately, you fumbled that ball when you did not hold up your end of the agreement. That is why trust in this process has broken down. Broken deals, failed votes, rejected amendments that had majority support, stacked committees, phony quorums, plans made in the dark, and bills disappearing from the agenda. We need to work together to rebuild that trust between your office and the people of Michigan.”
When asked for a response, Tate’s spokesperson Amber McCann sent a statement to the : “Matt Hall’s attempt to hold the House of Representatives hostage by rewriting history has been received and will be filed accordingly.”
Among the legislation Hall said House Republicans had been waiting for action on were a package of bills, (HB 4178, 4179, 4180, 4181 and 4182), which had bipartisan support and would criminalize doctors using their own sperm without the consent and knowledge of the patient in assisted reproduction. While the House Judiciary Committee passed the bills in May, they have not been passed by the full House.
The sponsor, Rep. John Roth (R-Interlochen), said that the failure to pass the bills was completely unacceptable.
“Women in Michigan have been betrayed by doctors they trusted to guide them through [the] fertility treatment process,” said Roth. “Doctors can falsely represent or swap embryos, and our archaic state law still doesn’t consider these heinous acts a crime. I’m confident our bipartisan plan to criminalize these abhorrent practices would see broad support from both sides of the aisle.”
Other legislation Hall said had been promised floor votes by Tate included:
- House Bill 4578, which would fully exempt retirement and pension benefits from income taxes for retired state corrections officers (COs). Hall said changes to the tax code last year gave public safety retirees a full exemption, including former county COs, but excluded state COs.
- House Bill 4011, which would reduce penalties and help relieve grieving family farmers who fail to file state paperwork on time after a family member’s death on the farm.
- House Bill 4694, which would require a percentage of benefits for a foster youth to be deposited into an account until they turn 18.
Hall also said the GOP caucus was prepared to support House Bill 4028, which he claimed was “briefly on the House agenda.” It would exempt tow trucks from seasonal weight restrictions when towing a vehicle or driving to and from a broken vehicle.
“The people we represent have waited long enough. We hope that you will bring up these common-sense bills for votes this week,” said Hall in concluding the letter.
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authored by Jon King
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