A constitutional amendment to eliminate the 'lame duck' sessions for the Michigan legislature is both a bold and brilliant move by area Republican State Rep. Gary Howell.
Howell recently proposed a plan that would eliminate legislative sessions from extending past Election Day, thus eliminating lame duck sessions altogether.
As Howell observed, lame duck legislation is often pushed through without adequate public hearings or input from those affected by proposed laws; and are stacked one on top of the other making it impossible for lawmakers to thoroughly read the proposed legislation, not to mention spending sufficient time examining the pros and cons, and merit—if any.
Lame duck legislation often involves little or no transparency, insufficient time for debate, and sometimes subverts the will of the people. If these bills are so important and are aimed at the best interest of Michigan residents, why aren't they debated in open sessions and in the true spirit of representative government?
As Howell also noted, eliminating lame duck sessions is also "an issue of accountability." Often, term limited lawmakers vote on issues during lame duck sessions that they will never have to answer for. "Quite frankly," Howell says, "if a bill isn't good enough to pass before an election, it's probably not a good idea to shove it through after an election."
We agree. Before Governor Rick Snyder left office, the flurry of activity during the lame duck session included some 400 votes on hundreds of issues, some of them previously decided at the polls by voters. This is insulting to Michigan voters, and is just plain bad government.
We applaud Howell for presenting the House Joint Resolution C to the House Government Operations Committee for consideration. We hope it is a measure that gains bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, so it will ultimately be placed on a statewide ballot for voters to decide. Lame duck legislation is not representative government, it's simply bad government.