Michigan’s priorities

The state of Michigan is controlled by a bicameral legislature: the Senate (upper house) and the House of Representatives (lower house). Michigan’s political actors include its Governor (Gretchen Whitmer), Speaker (Lee Chatfield), and its Majority and Minority leaders. Of the Majority, Mike Shirkey (Senate) and Tristan Cole (House) are its current legislative leaders. Of the Minority, Jim Ananich (Senate) and Christine Greig (House) are its current legislative leaders. Although previously a Republican trifecta, the state of Michigan is currently a divided legislature with no current party trifectas (when a party holds Governor’s office and Majorities in both state chambers). In terms of success, a divided legislature will not help matters and only perpetuates the need for a productive agenda-setting session. In the Senate, the new margin is 27-11 with a Republican majority. In the House, it is a much smaller margin of 58-52 Republican. Since Gretchen Whitmer is of the opposing party, legislative success this term might be slightly stagnant. It might be easier for the state to accomplish its set goals if the same party held the Governor’s office and at least one chamber majority.

Since her inaugural remarks on January 1, 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has initiated a total of 5 executive directives to address the concerns of Michigan’s denizens. Her first order of office was to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. On January 3, Whitmer ordered a directive focused on establishing and maintaining an ethical state government. Of the many issues, this directive will mostly target any budget irregularities, prohibiting solicitors from making any political contributions in state facilities, and much more. On January 4, she passed another directive focused on rehabilitating zones in Michigan where small local businesses and communities have lost capital and has since diminished. Whitmer is relying on the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget to partner with small business with new policies to create and expand new opportunities for growth. On January 8, she passed an equality directive aimed at ethical payment and management between employees and employers. Overall, the agenda of Michigan seems to strive toward supporting ethical practices and equal opportunities and growth for the state.

I live in Neshannock Township, a small suburban area outside of New Castle, PA in Lawrence County. My statewide representatives are Elder Vogel (R-Senate) and Chris Sainato (D-House). Chris Sainato, who is a family friend, was just sworn in for his 13th term as PA’s House Representative. On January 7, he was reappointed (9th term) as the democratic chair of Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. His continuous reappointment of this committee’s chair says a great deal about his stance/platform. New Castle, historically known as a steel mill town, has been decrepit and rundown for generations. There is some monetary wealth left from the “20th century” representative of old factory buildings and business. All these vacant buildings are still being filed for tax cuts from through family inheritance, so the city cannot revitalize those areas until the owners sell. Throughout his 12 terms, Chris has done much to revitalize New Castle at its worst. Recently, he fought for $180,000 in tax credits to help rebuild distressed areas. Launched a plan that granted surrounding townships $425,000 for sewer upgrades. He also presented a statewide emergency planning commission with 27 recommendations to increase emergency preparedness and strength for the city of New Castle. Although Chris shares many ideals with a party that I disagree with, he has and will continue to regenerate the community of New Castle.

My state senator is Elder Vogel, Jr. I know very little about him, but he seems has runs a similar platform to Chris Sainato. He was reappointed as chair for the Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs committee. Recently, he has helped procure over $100,000 in funding for New Castle’s local airport in addition to more supplemental community safety grants. He also is fairly active in veteran’s affairs and supporting our heroes and their families, given he recently hosted a rep. from the American Legion’s Veteran Assistance Program.

In general, I believe both of these officials represent me well but more importantly, represent New Castle/statewide townships better and making community needs a priority. As of now, I would vote for their re-election come next term.




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