Michigan State Legislature

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Michigan State Legislature

Seal of Michigan.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   2 terms (8 years) in Senate, 3 terms (6 years) in House
2015 session start:   January 14, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Brian Calley (R)
House Speaker:  Kevin Cotter (R)
Majority Leader:   Arlan Meekhof (R) (Senate),
Aric Nesbitt (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Jim Ananich (D) (Senate),
Tim Greimel (D) (House)
Members:  38 (Senate), 110 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art IV, Michigan Constitution
Salary:   $71,685/year + expenses
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
110 seats (House)
38 seats (Senate)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
110 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Michigan Legislature has control
The Michigan Legislature is the state legislature of Michigan. It is organized as a bicameral institution consisting of the Michigan Senate, the upper house, and the House of Representatives, the lower house. Article IV of the Michigan Constitution, adopted in 1963, defines the role of the legislature and how it is to be constituted. The Michigan Legislature meets in the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

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

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


The Michigan Legislature, according to Article 4 Section 13 of the Michigan constitution, must convene by noon on the second Wednesday in January. The Legislature is at liberty to choose when to adjourn, though all bills carry over into the next session.


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.[1][2]


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.[3][4]


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 are expected to have a tamer session. Major issues include the regulatory structure of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, increased transportation funding, education reform, and pension changes.[5]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 11 though a date yet to be determined.


In 2011, the Legislature will be in session from January 12 through mid December. A specific date is yet to be decided by the Legislature.[6] The 348 calendar days that the Michigan Legislature is in session during 2011 is the longest legislative session in the country.[7]

Session highlights

Tax reform

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 will 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 keeps the income tax rate at its current 4.35 percent until January 1, 2013, when it will drop to 4.25 percent. During 2011, Michigan also became the first state in more than 50 years to cut state-level unemployment benefits.[8]

Snyder was also able to secure a controversial measure to extend the state's income tax to pensions, a move the governor said would bring $343 million in new revenue during the coming fiscal year. Public employees, who stand to lose about $90 million of the $343 million total, reacted with outrage. The Michigan State Employees Association promised to file a lawsuit to block the pension tax provision, arguing that taxing state employee pensions violated the constitutional prohibition against "impairing or diminishing a vested public pension." Snyder beat employees to the punch, asking the state supreme court to issue an advisory opinion on the issue by October 1.[9]


In 2010, the Legislature convened its session on January 13th, and it remained in session throughout the year.[10]

Role in state budget

See also: Michigan state budget and finances
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The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[11][12]

  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.[12]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the state legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[14]

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.[15]


The Senate is the upper house of the Legislature. Its members are elected on a partisan basis for four-year terms concurrent with the election of the governor of Michigan. The Senate consists of 38 members elected from single-member election districts. Each member represents an average of 260,096 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[16] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 261,538.[17] Senators' terms begin at noon on January 1 following their election. The Senate chamber in the State Capitol is located in the south wing of the building. Following the 2010 elections, Republicans held a majority of seats in the Senate with 26; Democrats held 12 seats. Under the Michigan Constitution, the lieutenant governor of Michigan serves as President of the Senate but may only cast a vote in the instance of a tie. The Senate selects its other officers and adopts its own rules of procedure at the start of a new legislative session.

Party As of April 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

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives is the lower house of the Legislature. Its members are elected on a partisan basis for two-year terms at the same time at which members of Congress are chosen. The House of Representatives consists of 110 members who are elected from single-member election districts. Each member represents an average of 89,851 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[18] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 90,349.[19] Representatives' terms begin at noon on January 1 following their election. The House of Representatives chamber in the Capitol is located in the north wing of the building. Following the November 2, 2010 election, Republicans took control of the House, winning 63 seats, while the Democrats won 47. The House of Representatives selects its own Speaker of the House and other officers and adopts its rules of procedure at the start of a new legislative session.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 47
     Republican Party 63
Total 110

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


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

Michigan State Senate: 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.

Michigan State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Michigan State House of Representatives for 13 years while the Democrats were the majority for seven years. For the final three years of the study Michigan was under Republican trifectas.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives 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

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

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: 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.[20] Michigan's U.S. Congressional delegation decreased in size from 15 to 14 seats.[21] A substantial population shift occurred from Detroit proper into the suburban areas.[22]

The state legislature undertook a relatively private redistricting process.[23] 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.

A coalition of advocacy groups sued, alleging that the State House of Representatives plan was discriminatory, but a three-judge panel dismissed the case.[24][25]



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.[26]

Terms and sessions

Every two years the entire House of Representatives stands for election, whereas the Senate does so at four-year intervals concurrently with elections for Governor. For reckoning periods of time during which the legislature operates, each two-year period coinciding with the election of new members of the House of Representatives is numbered consecutively as a "Legislature" dating to the first legislature following Michigan's admission as a state.

Each year during which the legislature meets constitutes a "session" of the Legislature. According to the state's constitution, Article IV Section 13, a new session of the legislature begins when the members of each house convene on the second Wednesday of January every year at noon. A regular session of the Legislature typically lasts throughout the entire year with several periods of recess and adjourns sine die in December.

There is no minimum or maximum number of days for which a session of the Legislature must meet each year. Although there is no universal definition as to what constitutes a full-time legislature, the Michigan Legislature is one of only eleven full-time state legislatures in the nation.[27]Michigan's legislators receive a base salary of $79,650 per year which makes them the second-highest paid legislators in the nation, after California. Legislators also receive a $1,000 per month per diem in addition to their base salary.[28] Unlike those states which are considered to have a part-time legislature and whose members are paid only for actual days in session, Michigan's legislators are paid an annual salary regardless of the number of meeting days and are considered to be full-time.

Any legislation pending in either house at the end of a session that is not the end of a legislative term of office continues and carries over to the next legislative session.

Term limits

The electors of the State of Michigan adopted an amendment to the Michigan Constitution in 1992, Section 54 of Article IV, which became effective in 1993. This amendment limits the length of time any individual may serve as a member of the Legislature. Pursuant to this amendment, one may not be elected to the state senate more than two times or to the state house of representatives more than three times. The result of this is that there is now considerable turnover in membership in both houses of the legislature. Formerly, many seats were held by the same office holder, sometimes for decades. Although measures to repeal the term limits amendment have been introduced in both houses since it took effect, none of them have yet reached a vote on the floor of either house or received serious deliberation in the legislature.

Unicameral petition drive

An unsuccessful effort to collect petition signatures was launched in January 2006 by Unicameral Michigan, a ballot question committee registered with the State of Michigan, to provide for an amendment to the state's constitution to change from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature. It failed to qualify for the November 2006 ballot. If the amendment had succeeded, Michigan would have become only the second U.S. state, after Nebraska, to have a single-chambered state legislature.

Joint legislative committees

See also: Public policy in Michigan

The Michigan State Legislature has no joint standing committees.

See also

External links


  1. MLive, "Q&A with Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof: Energy policy, prevailing wage repeal on agenda," January 20, 2015
  2. MLive, "Michigan Republicans making new push for prevailing wage repeal in state Legislature," January 15, 2015
  3. Crain's Detroit Business, "Mich. has nearly $1B more than expected for budget," January 10, 2014. Accessed January 11, 2014
  4. Detroit Free Press, "Michigan GOP puts tax break atop 2014 agenda, Bolger says," January 9, 2014. Accessed January 11, 2014
  5. South Bend Tribune, "Michigan Legislature starts tamer two-year session today," January 9, 2013
  6. Michigan State Legislature Sessions Schedule
  7. South Carolina Policy Council, "50 State Legislative Session Interactive Map," February 2011
  8. Stateline.org, "States balance budgets with cuts, not taxes," June 15, 2011(Archived)
  9. Mlive.com, "Gov. Rick Snyder asks Supreme Court to protect new tax on pensions," June 2, 2011
  10. 2010 session dates for Michigan legislature
  11. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  13. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  15. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  16. census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  17. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001. Accessed February 13, 2014
  18. census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  19. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001. Accessed February 13, 2014
  20. U.S. Census Bureau, "2010 Census: Michigan Profile, 2011
  21. The Hill, "Longtime Dem Reps. Levin and Dingell could face redistricting danger" 22 Dec. 2010
  22. The Detroit News, "Black caucus preps for Michigan redistricting," March 25, 2011
  23. Livingston Daily, "Public could get early peek at district lines," May 18, 2011
  24. Huffington Post, "Michigan Redistricting Spurs Joint Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination," Michigan 8, 2011
  25. NPR, "Judges dismiss challenge to Michigan House redistricting," March 23, 2012
  26. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  27. Full- and Part-Time Legislatures, National Conference of State Legislatures, Updated January 2007, Accessed 2007-05-26
  28. National Conference of State Legislatures