LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Michigan House of Representatives is now evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
Democrats were hoping to replace two members who were elected as mayors last week with more Democrats by February. But Democratic Speaker of the House Joe Tate is predicting a vote to fill those open seats may not happen until May, not February as hoped.
House Republican Leader Rep. Matt Hall is asking Tate to engage in a “shared power agreement.” Under his proposal, all House committees would have equal representation from both parties. That means a committee with 20 members would have 10 R’s and 10 D’s.
Tate, for his part, says he’s not interested in shared power.
In practical political terms this means when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer walks into the House in January to deliver her “State of the State” message, it’ll be a whole new ball game.
If she wants to get anything done, she’ll need at least one Republican to support her plan to get 55 votes necessary for a simple majority. And that’s if she can hang onto all 54 Democrats. In recent months, keeping the Democratic caucus in line has been a challenge in and of itself.
Former House Speaker Paul Hillegonds shared power with Democrats in 1994. He asserts the current environment creates a whole new dilemma for a power-sharing deal.
“The House is evenly divided,” he says. “And won’t be able to do anything unless there’s some bipartisan support. So, I think there are a couple of ways it can go. It could result in partisan stalemate in a polarized climate.”
For citizens looking for a legislature that works together on a bipartisan basis, at this particular read – it looks like stalemate may be winning out.