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Well, Isn’t that Special?

Mar 13, 2019

Now that Michigan’s government is divided again, questions are starting to be asked about what tools the governor may have to get the Legislature to work on issues that are important to her.  For instance, can she prevent the Legislature from going on a spring or summer break, so they stay in Lansing and work?  If they go on break, can she call them back in for a special session?

The state Constitution provides that the governor may convene the Legislature on extraordinary occasions.  But, the Constitution doesn’t necessarily state what those occasions are, which can give a governor a lot of latitude.  Additionally, during a special session, the governor sets the legislature’s agenda.  The legislature can only pass a bill on the subject matter the governor expressly puts before them in a special message.  They can’t pass legislation on any other topic.   That doesn’t mean the legislature has to pass a bill, it just means that they can’t take up any other issues during that time.

To prevent a governor from calling them into a special session, the legislature years ago began to take on a full-time schedule.  As long as the legislature is in session, the governor cannot call them into a special session.  That is why the legislature, when it goes on an extended break, sets a date certain for return.  They do not adjourn Sine Die (without day) because that would then allow the governor to call them back into session.  This is also why the legislature adjourns Sine Die at the end of the year, at the very last moment.

But, what if an emergency occurs while the legislature is on summer break and they need to reconvene?  If the governor can’t call them back, and the Legislature set a date certain to return that is weeks or even months away, how can the legislature react?  The House and Senate have a joint rule in place to handle this type of type of emergency situation.  Under this rule, a committee composed of the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker may, by unanimous vote, convene either or both houses at any time in case of emergency.

Michigan Legislative Consultants is a bipartisan lobbying firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Our team of lobbyists and procurement specialists provide a wide range of services for some of the most respected companies in America. For more on MLC, visit www.mlcmi.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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