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Democratic tax bill stalled after Senate Republicans abruptly adjourn

Bill proposed to ban drones from Michigan State Capitol
Posted at 10:16 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-16 16:09:30-05

LANSING, Mich. — It was a dramatic day in Lansing, with lawmakers yelling on the House floor and Senators abruptly ending Thursday's session.

The uproar was all caused by a tax bill.

Containing several key Democratic tax priorities, House Bill 4001 would phase out Michigan's retirement tax, increase the earned income tax credit, and allow for $180 rebate checks for all state taxpayers.

On Thursday, the tax bill was pushed to a vote in the House of Representatives. No speeches were allowed— a move that met with outrage from some Republican representatives.

As votes were tallied, some Republicans were heard shouting in opposition.

Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt called the lack of speeches a form of "disrespect."

"The disrespect that was shown to House Republicans this afternoon by locking them in and denying the opportunity to debate such a consequential vote was an insult to this institution," wrote Nesbitt in a release following Thursday's vote.

However, despite Republican pushback, the bill passed the House 56-53, mostly along party lines. One Republican voted "yes," and one Democrat voted "no."

House Bill 4001 then moved to the Senate, where the session was quickly adjourned by Republicans while Democrats were in caucus, a maneuver allowed when no majority party leadership is on the floor.

By adjourning, Republicans delayed the Senate vote to next week and left House Bill 4001's fate undetermined.

While Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist expressed pride that the tax bill passed the House, he said the Republicans' move was "disappointing."

"Families need their relief right now and again, we had an opportunity to vote on that in Michigan Senate today," he told FOX 17.

Gilchrist says the bill would benefit 700,000 Michigan families, who would see $3,000 back in their pockets. It's a big win, he says, for families who need it most.

To make the $180 rebate checks happen, however, House Bill 4001 has to garner enough votes to take immediate effect. More than a simple majority, that means some Republican Senators will have to vote "yes."

Immediate effect of the bill means the money proposed for the rebate checks would not enter the state's general fund and trigger a 2015 law, which lowers Michigan's income tax rate from 4.25% to 4.05% should the general fund reach a certain cap.

"The Democratic majority is doing whatever they can to pass a tax hike onto families and small businesses throughout Michigan," read a statement from Republican House leaders Bryan Posthumus, Andrew Beeler, and Andrew Fink.

The statement went on. "This bill was written in secret, efforts were made behind the scenes to strong-arm members, and Republicans weren't allowed to stand up for Michigan taxpayers and speak against this— violating our right to debate."

Lt Gov Gilchrist argues the Democratic plan brings "meaningful funding," with the tax credit helping families more effectively than otherwise.

While Senate Republican halted the bill on Thursday, it will return to a Senate vote next week.

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Elle Meyers

Elle Meyers

6:12 PM, Apr 12, 2021

State Capitol

Neighborhood Reporter

Elle Meyers

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