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Republicans, Democrats elect new leadership in Michigan Legislature

Michigan State Capitol

The Michigan Legislature has new leadership as lawmakers gear up for the next session that begins in January.

Senate Democrats re-elected Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, to serve as the minority leader and the caucus chose Senator-Elect Stephanie Chang as the minority floor leader.

After the election on Tuesday, Democrats in the Senate picked up five seats, ending a GOP super-majority in the chamber, leaving Republicans with a 22-16 majority. Leading the minority in the Senate, Ananich said the Democrats will be "a relevant caucus" after ending the super-majority.

The shift of power, paired with Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer, will bring a different dynamic, according to Ananich.

“A lot of issues that families in Michigan cared about are going to be part of the discussion now,” Ananich said. “The voters have sent a pretty strong message that they want results, less partisanship, less ideological driven government, more [about] solutions and compromise.”

As for the future agenda, Ananich said that has yet to be determined, but there is time left in the current session and all eyes will on the issues of paid sick leave and raising the minimum wage. Current Senate Majority Leader Sen. Arlan Meekhof said he wants to make sure the issues are more "business friendly" and nothing if off the table.

“[Paid sick time] will be relatively soon as well, we’ll have some opportunities to work on thatmaking it more acceptable to the business community so continue to keep our economy on track and not put a roadblock or hindrance in their way,” Meekhof said. “Everything is possible in lame-duck.”

Meekhof will hand over his leadership post to Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, after getting elected by the Republican Caucus. Shirkey said he looks forward to continuing the work Senate Republicans have done over the last eight years.

“We will not change our course,” he said. “Everything we do is going to be oriented and focused on making sure that we create an environment that is attractive to capital investment, the creation of jobs and create maximizing opportunities.”

After hours of caucus meetings, the House elected their leadership as well. Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, was voted in as the next Speaker of the House after serving as Speaker Pro Tempore last session. He will take over from current Speaker and former Attorney General Candidate Tom Leonard.

Chatfield said multiple times he looks forward to meeting and having conversations with Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer and he will begin working with his caucus this year.

“Our caucus will get together within the next couple of months and we will form an action plan of which we lay out what our plan is for the state of Michigan and I look forward to working with House Democrats to ensure that we can get that done,” Chatfield said.

The priorities, for him personally, will be to make state government more transparent, clean water and finding ways to fund education and infrastructure improvements. How to find the money for these projects, has yet to be determined.

“I look forward to having conversations with Gov.-elect Whitmer and talking about ideas, but I can tell you this – no Republican ran on the platform of raising taxes,” Chatfield said.

The House Democrats elected Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, to lead the caucus. Greig is currently the Democratic Floor Leader, but will take over Rep. Sam Singh’s role in January.

Greg said she wants to see the Legislature focus on people centered issues, and hopes to work with Chatfield to make that happen.

“We need to return to policy that puts people at the center. We have to have good schools, we have to have clean water, we have to have wonderful roads as well. People have to have good jobs,” Greig said.

She and Chatfield have worked in the House together previously, and Greig said she looks forward to continuing that relationship.

Current lawmakers will return to Lansing after the Thanksgiving break.

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