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What happened last week

This past week, the voices of nearly five million Michiganders were silenced and ignored as Democrats quickly and quietly voted to impose a tax increase. They used a conference committee procedure, which avoids any changes or discussion of the bill passed by the committee, to stop a guaranteed income tax cut that would have benefited every taxpayer of our state. Instead, big corporations will receive a windfall while residents will get a measly one-time check that won’t even cover a tank of gas and a trip to the grocery store for the average Michigan family.

The Democrat majority silenced all opposition and locked duly elected representatives into the House chamber like prisoners. Not allowing Republican representatives to stand up for our constituents and debate such an impactful piece of legislation is an insult to hardworking taxpayers throughout Michigan and our legislative process. This is easily one of the most shameful things I’ve witnessed in my four years serving in the Legislature.

Over the past four years, bills that were considered controversial were generally moved through the Government Operations Committee – allowing for transparent review and input before moving the bills to the floor. Once on the floor, Democrats were allowed to voice their opposition before the House cast a vote. Believe me, I sat through many loud, billowing speeches from the minority party, but it was important because they represent a portion of Michigan’s population, just like I do. In the People’s House, debate and free speech matter. Whether you agree with the representative or not, 90,000 residents sent them to Lansing to be their voice, and those voices always deserve to be heard. In this case, they were silenced.

With the Legislative and Executive branches under single-party control, no bills this term have been brought to the House floor that has moved through the committee process. The Governor gives marching orders, and “Democrat” leadership in the House and Senate blindly follow them, with no regard for their members or constituents. Their message to their freshmen lawmakers is clear – we’ll help you by using the budget process to get projects in your district, or we’ll primary you out of office. Back Whitmer, your conscience and constituents be damned.

The Legislature is an equal branch of the government, not employees of the executive. We’re off to a very rocky start to the 102nd Legislature, and a good tone is not being set for relationship building between new representatives that will potentially serve together for the next twelve years. Memories are long, and it’s going to take a lot of effort to undo the damage caused in these first few weeks. I can only hope that Democrats will return to their districts, hear from constituents during coffee hours, and return to Lansing with slightly cooler heads. We can do a lot of good things if we work together, but that involves dialog, debate, and decency.

If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1799. You can also visit my website at www.RepWendzel.com.

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