Runestad introduces resolution to curtail ‘lame duck’ legislative sessions

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad on Thursday introduced a resolution that would help put an end to legislation being rushed through the legislative process during lame duck sessions.

The term “lame duck” refers to legislative session days that occur between an election and when the session ends.

Senate Joint Resolution E would amend the state constitution to require three-fourths approval of both houses for legislation to pass during lame duck.

“I’ve seen all kinds of awful legislation get rammed through during lame duck sessions,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Last-minute, backroom deals tend to create rules that are only good for the politicians and special interests who write those rules.”

SJR E is similar to House Joint Resolution A, sponsored by Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth and passed by the House on Wednesday.

SJR E states that the regular session in an even-numbered year shall adjourn “without day” — meaning with no appointed date for resumption — on the Friday before the first Monday in November, unless the session is continued by concurrent resolution approved by three-fourths of the members elected to and serving in each house.

“All legislation should go through a public, transparent process before becoming law,” Runestad said. “This resolution would be a big step toward cracking down on the rushed, deceptive and shady pet projects and bad laws that tend to come out of lame duck sessions.

“Michigan has been ranked as the worst state in the country for transparency, in part due to the effects of lame duck laws. Folks have had enough. This amendment would help create a more transparent, accountable and ethical Legislature. And it’s something we should all be able to get behind.”

SJR E has been referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations.

If approved by two-thirds of both the Senate and the House, SJR E would be placed on the next statewide general election ballot.