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Keeping track of governors' deals made without the legislature's approval

artist rendering of proposed bridge
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority
The Gordie Howe International Bridge, shown here in an artist's rendering, is an example of a project that came together, in part, because of a memo of understanding agreement Gov. Snyder made with Canada.

One of the ways that the state of Michigan takes action is by passing legislation. The state House and Senate pass bills, send them on to the governor and if he signs them, they become law. However, the governor has an end-around option that doesn't involve the Legislature and doesn't get much attention.

It's called a "memorandum of understanding agreement." Those agreements have led to some major projects and one legislator wants to change the way they work.

Some examples of the use of memo of understanding agreements, include:

  • The Gordie Howe International Bridge 
  • "Sister-state" agreements with foreign provinces
  • Trade deals with other countries, including China and Canada
  • Agreements between government departments on how to divide work on a specific project

The bill introduced by state Senator Mike Shirkey would give governors the ability to undo the agreements made by their predecessors and would require that all of these deals are kept in one place: the Michigan Office of the Great Seal. 

"Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou spoke with Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of "It's Just Politics" on Michigan Radio, about the proposed legislation and the Office of the Great Seal.

You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Radio staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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