Nov 9, 2023 - News

Dems lose majority after reps win mayoral elections

Michigan's House of Representatives

Michigan's House of Representatives. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

The two-seat majority held by Michigan Democrats in the state House of Representatives will be gone for at least a few months after two Democratic legislators won mayoral races on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Reps. Kevin Coleman (D-Westland) and Lori Stone (D-Warren) are expected to serve the rest of the week before leaving their positions in Lansing to become mayors of their Metro Detroit cities.

Why it matters: Michigan's Legislature is divided once more following nine months of passing agenda items without needing Republican support.

  • Major legislation like Mayor Mike Duggan's land value tax proposal, auto no-fault reform and more will require some level of compromise to pass.

Of note: That compromise could lead to watered-down proposals, like when Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) managed to convince Democrats to remove a provision to end a 24-hour abortion waiting period in order to pass the Reproductive Health Act package.

Between the lines: A 54-54 means Republicans can stop legislation they don't support from getting to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's desk and could mean the Legislature adjourns earlier than planned.

  • "It's not clear anything will move during those months," Democratic strategist Adrian Hemond tells Axios.

What they're saying: Hemond says it's likely the Legislature is stalled until special elections can be held — which is expected to take months.

  • "Never mind the end of the month — they may come in for one day, Tuesday next week, and be done for the year at the end of the week," Hemond says.

State of play: What happens in the next few months depends on the next couple of days, both in terms of legislation that gets passed and the internal planning of the speaker's office and governor's office.

  • "There are some conversations that have to happen between [House Speaker] Joe Tate and [Republican floor leader] Matt Hall to figure out, you know, from the speaker's perspective, what does the bipartisan path forward look like?" Hemond says. "Are there actually issues that the minority is willing to work with them on?"

Catch up quick: To start their first session in full control of Michigan's government for the first time in 40 years, Democrats passed gun safety bills, expanded voting rights and abortion rights and added legal protections for LGBTQ+ residents this year.

What's next: The governor must call special elections to fill the empty district seats, which are both heavily Democratic.

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