Question 1): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month opined that, as far as she is concerned, Michigan’s presidential primary will take place on Feb. 27, 2024, as currently scheduled, despite a push from legislative Republicans to shift the date back into early March.
To avoid a substantial penalty from the national party, Karamo’s GOP plans to award only 16 of 55 delegates based on the Feb. 27 primary’s results, according to an amended resolution approved by the state committee. However, the Republican National Committee still has to approve the Michigan party’s plans.
Does any of this impact the question of whether Republicans will eventually cough up enough votes to give the prez primary bill I.E? What about the possibility that Democrats might employ the “nuclear option” of gaveling through I.E. in the Senate without a roll call vote, as the constitution seemingly requires but which has been repeatedly violated by both parties in the state House? If Democrats don’t want to go down that road, would they consider adjourning sine die early (like, as early as Sept. 1) to start the clock running toward an effective date BEFORE Feb. 27, 2024?
Answer 1): Neither Whitmer’s statement two weeks nor the state Republicans’ plans to circumvent the impact of a 2/27/24 presidential primary with an end run featuring a district caucus system would seem to have any effect on the range of possibilities outlined in the question. Anything can happen — an early sine die or a ‘nuclear option’ that could also be employed by Democrats to force I.E. on budget bills if Senate Republicans won’t give them the support they need to reach 26 votes for I.E. It’s also possible the Republican National Committee will reject Michigan’s plan for a split primary/caucus arrangement, or that the national Democrats will allow Michigan to have an early March primary (instead of Feb. 27) that might solve everyone’s problems. Stay tuned, because this may not be resolved for a while.
Question 2): Would Gov. Whitmer have more to gain from Republicans withholding Immediate Effect on the budget than the Republicans would, considering that she’d have the power to limit the agenda of any special session she calls for afterwards?
Answer 2): Sure, the Governor and her legislative allies could use a special session to control the agenda even more than they do now, but so what? The minority party never has much control over the legislative process, let alone a determining role in crafting a state budget, either in a regular or a special session. For minority Republicans, understanding the tools at their disposal and the limit of their influence is a necessary first step to regaining political relevance. But, remember, just because the Governor alone has the authority to determine what is considered in a special session, that doesn’t mean the Legislature must OK it. Lawmakers don’t have to do anything, and the special session will wind up a big fat ZERO. Looking at history, on the rare occasions when special sessions have been called, that’s exactly what happened. Yes, because the Democrats now control everything in Lansing, if they stick together majority legislative Democrats can rubber-stamp anything Whitmer wants (and that they want), but they can do that now (and HAVE been doing it all year so far). They don’t need a special session to do it.