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The Legislature’s plan: Move on from budget, focus on policy

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
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Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Capitol Building, Lansing, MI

After a combative budget cycle, state lawmakers want to find common ground on policy issues.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer would like to get leaders in the state Legislature back to the table to come up with a new spending bill. One that uses the almost one billion dollars that Whitmer line-item vetoed in the budget.

But GOP lawmakers say the budget is done and it’s time to focus on policy issues.             

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says he’s ready to discuss a long-term road funding plan.

“I made a strong commitment that once the budget was completed we’d go back to the table on road funding and that’s exactly what I intend to commit to complete,” he says.

Fixing the roads was a central campaign issue for Whitmer.

Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield says he wants to focus on changes to the criminal justice system, such as expanding the state’s expungement laws. Chatfield says despite the contentious budget cycle, he thinks the GOP-led Legislature and Democratic governor can find common ground.

“I am very committed to working in a bipartisan way with this administration as we have shown that we can do in this House chamber, to continue focusing on policies that we can reach a consensus on,” he says.

Representative Christine Greig is the leader of the Democrats in the state House. She says she also wants to see changes to the criminal justice system, such as increasing opportunities for people when they get out of prison.

“We all want them to be successful when they come back, but there’s a lot of barriers in our laws to that,” she says.

Democratic lawmakers would also like to focus on changes to the state’s health care laws. They plan to announce a so-called “Health Over Profits for Everyone” bill package on Monday.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R