Friday, March 24, 2023

Session nears end, lawmakers push legislation

November 27, 2000

With only two weeks left for bills in the House and Senate to become law before this year’s session ends, some lawmakers are scrambling to see their legislation through.

With more than 1,000 bills introduced every session, and only about 100 passing, it’s common to end a session with almost a thousand failing.

Some lawmakers say the lack of time doesn’t deter them from trying to speed up their efforts; it makes business more hectic.

State House Rep. Lynne Martinez, D-Lansing, is the sponsor of two bills that would make organ donating easier. Neither bill has come to a vote in the House.

“It’s going to be a very rough week,” said Martinez, laughing. “I have these bills to let people make their own choices on organ donation.

“That’s what I’ll be working on the last few weeks.”

The bills would legally authorize individuals to make an anatomical gift for another or designate patient advocates.

Martinez said legislators are used to being on a tight schedule and rewriting legislation if their bills aren’t passed by the end of session.

“It’s not a problem. It’s the schedule that everyone’s used to,” she said.

Martinez said other legislation to be discussed by the House and Senate this week addresses some important issues.

“There are three bills about abortion,” she said. “One says insurance can’t cover abortion without a special rider that will cost more.”

John Truscott, spokesman for Gov. John Engler, said his office isn’t quite as busy as some legislators’ because Engler completed the majority of his agenda in the spring.

“There aren’t any major issues on our agenda,” Truscott said. “As people try to set up their causes, it gets crazy and we try to watch for surprises.

“Because we don’t have any major issue priorities, we’re in really good shape from our perspective. We feel like we can walk away from issues if they’re new.”

Lobbyists for MSU don’t have much to worry about for the remainder of this session either.

As far as MSU is directly concerned, no bills are pending on the state level that would affect the university, said Steve Webster, MSU vice president for governmental affairs.

Right now he is focusing his attention on the 2001 session to begin in January.

“It begins the appropriations process, so we’ll focus on that,” Webster said.

Some political analysts don’t think it’s so easy to predict what bills will pass.

“This is not a process that’s genuine,” said Mark Grebner, an analyst for East Lansing’s Practical Political Consulting. “It’s one big sewage pit. You can count the bubbles, but you don’t really know what’s coming up.”

Grebner said counting the number of bills introduced during one legislative session is nearly impossible.

“How you learned a bill becomes a law in textbooks isn’t really how it happens anymore,” Grebner said. “Everything is bought and sold.

“There are some specific things the leaders - lobbyists and Engler - want to move and based on that and who’s on their way out, bills will pass.”

Grebner said the last few weeks of session are often the easiest time to stall legislation.

“It’s so easy to run out the clock,” Grebner said. “Everyone’s cleaning out their desks, done with campaigns for now.

“It’s kind of like the senior skip day in high school that turned into skip week, only you have to show up to vote and get the last things through.”


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