It is now a new year. With the State House and Senate adjourned until Jan. 11, it's time to get our bearings on what’s likely to be bubbling away on Lansing’s front burner this year.
Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta joined Stateside to discuss.
To bring us up to speed, the duo reviewed the big bills pushed through at the very end of lame duck:
Pluta said at the end of 2016, the spotlight shined again on Michigan’s wolf hunting controversy.
“The governor has signed a bill that would allow wolf hunting to take place in the Upper Peninsula should the grey wolf be taken off the federal endangered species list,” he said.
But Clark said the biggest bill to pass in lame duck was the energy legislation.
“It resets Michigan’s energy policy for really the next couple of decades,” Pluta said.
What wasn't spotlighted as much at the end of last year, Pluta said, was Snyder's role in the bill's passage.
“He was able to bring everyone into the room, pull together a majority of votes on a very complicated package that most, but not everyone, generally agrees is pretty acceptable,” Pluta said.
Clark said it’s an instance of success in terms of what most want government to do.
“Whether or not you like the energy legislation, these energy bills, it’s sort of what you hope – that Democrats, Republicans come together and go, ‘Okay, we’re going to take a little of this, we’re going to give you a little of that,’” Clark said.
As for what’s to come in this new year, Clark and Pluta pointed to several priorities Snyder’s likely to have.
“His babies are talent development, infrastructure, wrapping up this bridge project in Detroit – those are the things that capture his fancy,” Pluta said. “And going into 2017, we’ll see him try to focus more, I think, particularly on infrastructure, but he cannot escape the shadow of Flint.”
One goal Snyder has in the new year is to focus on what he calls “asset management” – planned coordination of infrastructure work and repairs to decrease costs.
In terms of the coming Trump presidency, there are now 18 days left until his inauguration.
While Snyder was a hands-off Republican during Trump’s campaign, Clark and Pluta said it's not unlikely the two could cooperate.
“Donald Trump has said he wants infrastructure to be a priority of his presidency,” Pluta said. “So in that respect, their interests – at least in the macro sense – would seem to align. We’ll see what happens as it gets down to the granular level.”
For more on what’s to come this year, including the Affordable Care Act’s fate, expectations from the new faces in Lansing, the likelihood of FOIA expansion and more, listen above.