Ballard's picture

Gongwer News, March 19, 2010

House Democrats don't plan on passing the governor's retirement proposal for state workers and school employees before her deadline of April 1 - not even just a vehicle bill to get the ball rolling.

The House would have had to vote on the bills (HB 5953* and HB 5954*) this week to allow the bills to reside in the Senate for the constitutionally required five days before the Legislature breaks for spring recess on March 29.

But Speaker Andy Dillon told reporters House Democrats had a problem with moving a vehicle bill to get over the five-day rule and meet the governor's deadline and instead want more time to understand and work on the bills.

"I know the governor makes a good case for moving it now, but there are a lot of moving pieces," Mr. Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) said Thursday.

And Mr. Dillon said a K-12 official told him that having 60 days before the start of the fiscal year, July 1, to figure out who is retiring is enough. So, Mr. Dillon said the bills could get done by the end of April.

The House will not take votes during the legislative spring break, but committees will meet, Mr. Dillon said.

The chair of the committee where the retirement bills reside said Friday he just wants to work on the bills and not set any arbitrary deadlines.

"If we set a deadline, we're there until five minutes after," Rep. Martin Griffin (D-Jackson) said.

The committee has reached out to groups opposed to the legislation, mainly unions, to ask for their proposed amendments and plans on holding another hearing Wednesday. But votes aren't scheduled at this point.

Asked about the chances of the House getting enough votes to pass the bills over to the Senate, Mr. Dillon simply said, "We're going to see."

Mr. Griffin said he believes the legislation should become law, although he doesn't believe as many the administration expects will retire actually will because of the economy.

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Retirement Subcommittee scheduled another meeting for next week on the bills (SB 1226* and SB 1227*).

Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Gaines Twp.), the subcommittee chair, could not be reached Friday, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) said Thursday he wants to move quickly on the legislation.

Mr. Bishop also urged Ms. Granholm to put more effort into getting her fellow Democrats who run the House to act in that chamber.