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Michigan State Senate

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Michigan State Senate

Seal of Michigan.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   2 terms (8 years)
2015 session start:   January 14, 2015
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Brian Calley (R)
Majority Leader:   Arlan Meekhof (R)
Minority Leader:   Jim Ananich (D)
Members:  38
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art IV, Sec. 2, Michigan Constitution
Salary:   $71,685/year + expenses
Last Election:  November 4, 2014 (38 seats)
Next election:  November 6, 2018 (38 seats)
Redistricting:  Michigan Legislature has control
Meeting place:
The Michigan Senate is the upper house of the Michigan Legislature. It consists of 38 members who are elected from districts that have an average of 260,096 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 261,538 residents.[2] The Senate meets at its capitol in Lansing

Senators are elected at the same time as the governor and serve four-year terms concurrent with the governor's term of office. Senate and gubernatorial elections are offset by two years from U.S. Presidential elections (e.g., Presidential elections were in 2000 and 2004, gubernatorial and senate elections were in 2002 and 2006). Terms for senators begin on January 1, following the November general election. Senators who have not served more than half of someone else's Senate term are eligible for two full terms (i.e. - eight years).[3]

As of March 2015, Michigan is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Michigan State Legislature, Michigan House of Representatives, Michigan Governor


Article IV of the Michigan Constitution establishes when the Michigan Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 13 of Article IV states that the legislature is to convene on the second Wednesday in January of each year. Section 13 gives the Legislature the power to determine its date of adjournment through concurrent resolution.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature is projected to be in session from January 14 through December 31.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include energy policy and a possible repeal of the state's prevailing wage law.[4][5]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through December 31.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2014 legislative session included allocation of an estimated $971 million surplus over three years, which Republicans says should go towards a tax break.[6][7]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to December 31.

Major issues

After a extremely divided lame-duck session in December 2012, lawmakers were expected to have a tamer session. Major issues included the regulatory structure of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, increased transportation funding, education reform, and pension changes.[8]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 11 to December 27.[9]


In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 12 through December 28.[10][11]

Session highlights

In the 2011 session, Michigan was a key battleground on corporate taxes. Governor Rick Snyder had made promises during his campaign to eliminate the “Michigan Business Tax,” which was costly and difficult to calculate. Governor Snyder delivered, replacing the tax with a flat 6 percent corporate income tax. The state planned to recover the $1.8 billion in lost business tax revenues with $1.5 billion in higher personal income tax revenues. Current Michigan law requires the state income tax to drop to 3.9 percent by 2015. Governor Snyder's measure held the income tax rate at 4.35 percent until January 1, 2013, when it decreased to 4.25 percent. During 2011, Michigan also became the first state in more than 50 years to cut state-level unemployment benefits.[12]


In 2010, the Senate convened its session on January 13, and it remained in session throughout the year.[13]

Role in state budget

See also: Michigan state budget and finances
Michigan on Horizontal-Policypedia logo-color.png
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The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[14][15]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in August of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year.
  2. State agencies submit their requests to the governor in November.
  3. Agency hearings are held in December.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in February.
  5. The legislature typically adopts a budget in June or July. The fiscal year begins October 1.

Michigan is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[15]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the state legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget.[15]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Michigan was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[16]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[17] According to the report, Michigan received a grade of B and a numerical score of 86.5, indicating that Michigan was "advancing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[17]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Michigan was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[18]



See also: Michigan State Senate elections, 2014

Elections for the office of Michigan State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election was held on August 5, 2014, and a general election took place on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was April 22, 2014.


See also: Michigan State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Michigan Senate were held in Michigan on November 2, 2010. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was May 11, 2010, and the primary Election Day was on August 3, 2010.

In 2010, the candidates running for state senate raised a total of $16,309,515 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:[19]


See also: Michigan State Senate elections, 2006

Elections for the office of Michigan State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 8, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.

During the 2006 election, the total of contributions to Senate candidates was $14,463,621. The top 10 contributors were:[20]


See also: Michigan State Senate elections, 2002

Elections for the office of Michigan State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 6, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.

During the 2002 election, the total of contributions to Senate candidates was $13,900,019. The top 10 contributors were:[21]


Section 7 of Article 4 of the Michigan Constitution states, "Each senator and representative must be a citizen of the United States, at least 21 years of age, and an elector of the district he represents. The removal of his domicile from the district shall be deemed a vacation of the office. No person who has been convicted of subversion or who has within the preceding 20 years been convicted of a felony involving a breach of public trust shall be eligible for either house of the legislature."


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

Whenever a vacancy occurs in the senate, it is up to the Governor to call for a special election. A special election must be held during the next scheduled general election.[22] If the vacancy happened after the statewide primary, leaders of the respective party organizations within the Senate district can submit a list of nominees to be voted on by party leadership. A vote must be held no later than 21 days after the vacancy.[23]

Term limits

See also: State legislatures with term limits

The Michigan legislature is one of 15 state legislatures with term limits. Voters enacted the Michigan Term Limits Act in 1992. That initiative said that Michigan senators are subject to term limits of no more than two four-year terms, or a total of eight years.enators who have not served more than half of someone else's Senate term are eligible for two full terms (i.e. - eight years). Michigan legislators assume office the at noon on first day of January.[3]

The first year that the term limits enacted in 1992 impacted the ability of incumbents to run for office was in 2002.


See also: Redistricting in Michigan

The state legislature has the power to redraw district boundaries. Changes to the boundaries are made in the form of regular legislation, which means the maps are subject to the Governor's veto. In 2010, the House and the Senate organized redistricting committees to handle drafting the maps. As a result of the 2010 elections, both chamber's of Michigan's legislature and Michigan's governorship were controlled by Republicans.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan's population fell from 9.94 million to 9.88 million between 2000 and 2010.[24] Michigan's U.S. Congressional delegation decreased in size from 15 to 14 seats.[25] A substantial population shift occurred from Detroit proper into the suburban areas.[26]

The state legislature undertook a relatively private redistricting process.[27] A Republican-proposed plan passed with bipartisan support after the House made some changes to the Senate plan. Governor Rick Snyder signed the plan, Senate Bill 498, into law on August 9, 2011.

Notably, the original Republican maps did not include a state senate district entirely within Detroit proper. Senate Democrats suggested some changes to the Detroit-area districts, which were then incorporated and sent to the House.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Michigan Legislature are paid $71,685/year. Legislators can use up to $10,800/year for expenses.[28]

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 11
     Republican Party 27
Total 38

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Michigan State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Michigan State Senate.PNG


The Lieutenant Governor serves as the presiding officer of the Senate, known as the President of the Senate. The president can only vote when there is a tie. In the absence of the President, the President Pro Tempore presides. The President Pro Tempore, Assistant President Pro Tempore, and Associate President Pro Tempore are elected by a vote of a majority of the Senators.[29][30]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Michigan State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Brian Calley Ends.png Republican
State Senate President Pro Tempore Tonya Schuitmaker Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant President Pro Tempore Margaret O'Brien Ends.png Republican
State Senate Associate President Pro Tempore Hoon-Yung Hopgood Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Goeff Hansen Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Caucus Chairperson Rick Jones Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Majority Caucus Chairperson Patrick Colbeck Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Whip Jack Brandenburg Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Majority Whip Darwin Booher Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Minority Leader Steven Bieda Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Floor Leader Morris Hood Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Minority Floor Leader Coleman Young II Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Caucus Leader David Knezek Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Minority Caucus Leader Vincent Gregory Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Whip Curtis Hertel Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Minority Whip Virgil Smith Electiondot.png Democratic

Current members

Current members, Michigan State Senate
District Representative Party Assumed office
1 Coleman Young II Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
2 Bert Johnson Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
3 Morris Hood Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
4 Virgil Smith Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
5 David Knezek Electiondot.png Democratic 2015
6 Hoon-Yung Hopgood Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
7 Patrick Colbeck Ends.png Republican 2011
8 Jack Brandenburg Ends.png Republican 2011
9 Steven Bieda Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
10 Tory Rocca Ends.png Republican 2011
11 Vincent Gregory Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
12 Jim Marleau Ends.png Republican 2011
13 Marty Knollenberg Ends.png Republican 2015
14 David Robertson Ends.png Republican 2011
15 Mike Kowall Ends.png Republican 2011
16 Mike Shirkey Ends.png Republican 2015
17 Dale Zorn Ends.png Republican 2015
18 Rebekah Warren Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
19 Mike Nofs Ends.png Republican 2009
20 Margaret O'Brien Ends.png Republican 2015
21 John Proos Ends.png Republican 2011
22 Joe Hune Ends.png Republican 2011
23 Curtis Hertel Electiondot.png Democratic 2015
24 Rick Jones Ends.png Republican 2011
25 Phil Pavlov Ends.png Republican 2011
26 Tonya Schuitmaker Ends.png Republican 2011
27 Jim Ananich Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
28 Peter MacGregor Ends.png Republican 2015
29 Dave Hildenbrand Ends.png Republican 2011
30 Arlan Meekhof Ends.png Republican 2011
31 Mike Green Ends.png Republican 2011
32 Ken Horn Ends.png Republican 2015
33 Judy Emmons Ends.png Republican 2011
34 Goeff Hansen Ends.png Republican 2011
35 Darwin Booher Ends.png Republican 2011
36 Jim Stamas Ends.png Republican 2015
37 Wayne Schmidt Ends.png Republican 2015
38 Tom Casperson Ends.png Republican 2011

Standing Senate Committees

The Michigan Senate has 21 standing committees:

Decommissioned committees


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Michigan
Partisan breakdown of the Michigan legislature from 1992-2013

During every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Michigan State Senate. The Michigan State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. For the final three years of the study Michigan was under Republican trifectas.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Michigan, the Michigan State Senate and the Michigan House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Michigan state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Michigan state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Michigan has had spurts of divided government and a Republican trifecta. The state had a Republican trifecta during three separate periods (1995-1996, 1999-2002, and 2011-2013) and divided government during three separate periods (1992-1994, 1997-1998, and 2003-2010). The state’s highest SQLI ranking came in 1999 under a Republican trifecta (19th). Beginning in 2007, Michigan has slipped into the bottom-10 of the SQLI ranking and has remained there since. Michigan saw its most precipitous drop in the SQLI ranking between 2001 and 2002 and again between 2003 and 2004, under both a Republican trifecta and divided government, respectively. The state had not had a Democratic trifecta.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 26.88
  • SQLI average with divided government: 33.31
Chart displaying the partisanship of Michigan government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links


  1., "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001
  3. 3.0 3.1, "Term limits," accessed December 17, 2013
  4. MLive, "Q&A with Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof: Energy policy, prevailing wage repeal on agenda," January 20, 2015
  5. MLive, "Michigan Republicans making new push for prevailing wage repeal in state Legislature," January 15, 2015
  6. Crain's Detroit Business, "Mich. has nearly $1B more than expected for budget," January 10, 2014. Accessed January 11, 2014
  7. Detroit Free Press, "Michigan GOP puts tax break atop 2014 agenda, Bolger says," January 9, 2014. Accessed January 11, 2014
  8. South Bend Tribune, "Michigan Legislature starts tamer two-year session today," January 9, 2013 (Archived)
  9. Michigan Legislature, "Senate Official Journal 2012," accessed September 3, 2014
  10. Michigan Legislature, "Senate Official Journal 2011," accessed September 3, 2014
  11. Michigan Legislature, "House Official Journal 2011," accessed September 3, 2014
  12., States balance budgets with cuts, not taxes, June 15, 2011 (Archived)
  13. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislative Session Calendar," accessed September 3, 2014 (Archived)
  14. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  16. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  18. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  19. Follow the Money, "Michigan 2010 - Candidates," accessed September 3, 2014
  20. Follow the Money, "Michigan 2006 - Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
  21. Follow the Money, "Michigan 2002 - Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
  22. Michigan Legislature, "Michigan Election Law," accessed December 17, 2013 (Referenced Statute 168.178, Michigan Compiled Laws)
  23. Michigan Legislature, "Michigan Election Law," accessed December 17, 2013 (Referenced Statute 168.634 (1)-(2), Michigan Compiled Laws)
  24. U.S. Census Bureau, "2010 Census: Michigan Profile," 2011
  25. The Hill, "Longtime Dem Reps. Levin and Dingell could face redistricting danger", December 22, 2010
  26. The Detroit News, "Black caucus preps for Michigan redistricting," March 25, 2011 (dead link)
  27. Livingston Daily, "Public could get early peek at district lines," May 18, 2011 (dead link)
  28., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  29. Michigan Legislature, "Senate Rules," accessed September 3, 2014 (Referenced Ch. 1, Sec. 1)
  30. Michigan Senate, "Michigan State Senate Officers," accessed September 3, 2014