Wednesday, December 28th, 2022Legislative to Adjourn Sine Die
Wednesday, January 11th, 2023Legislators Sworn In
Whitmer Announces Leadership Changes in State Departments
On December 2, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced new leadership in state departments and agencies for the next four years. Entering her second term as governor, she commented that new opportunities and challenges are ahead, and the appointments and promotions will build on the work of the last four years.
Dan Eichinger will serve as acting director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Eichinger is currently the director at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where he has served since 2019. He replaces Liesl Clark.
Michelle Lange will serve as director of the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB). Lange has held leadership positions within DTMB, including chief deputy officer, director of executive direction and operations, chief of staff to the director, and the legislative department liaison. She has worked under Governor Whitmer as well as former governor Rick Snyder.
Senator Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) was chosen as the new director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). He is currently serving his second term in the Michigan Senate and will term out at the end of the year. Hollier served as a volunteer firefighter before enlisting in the U.S. Army and graduating with distinction from officer candidate school, where he earned the commission of 2nd Lieutenant.
Brian Hanna was selected as executive director of the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA). He will move from acting executive director to executive director. Hanna spent five years with the CRA as field operations, inspections, and investigations manager and served under former director Andrew Brisbo.
Brade Wieferich will assume the role of acting director of the Department of Transportation (MDOT). He is currently the chief operations officer of MDOT, overseeing their seven regions, the Bureau of Development, the Bureau of Field Services, and the Bureau of Bridges and Structures. He replaces Director Paul Ajegba, who is planning to retire from MDOT at the end of the year.
Kathy Angerer was selected as acting director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), where she is currently the deputy director. She replaces Director Gary McDowell, who is planning to retire at the end of the year.
Shannon Lott will serve as acting director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Lott has worked for over 25 years at the DNR and most recently held the role of natural resources deputy.
In addition to new leadership across state departments, Governor Whitmer announced staff changes in the executive office. Senior Advisor Shaquila Myers will be chief of staff to Speaker-elect Joe Tate (D-Detroit). Deputy Chief of Staff Melanie Brown will serve as executive ombudsman and senior partnerships advisor at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Chief Legal Counsel Nick Bagley will return to his position as a law professor at the University of Michigan. Maria Martinez will act as chief legal counsel while maintaining her duties as chief compliance officer.
Michigan Certifies November Election Results
On Monday, November 28, the Board of Canvassers unanimously certified the 2022 Michigan election results for all 83 counties.
The bipartisan panel, consisting of two Republicans and two Democrats, accepted the results despite two hours of public comment urging the board to overturn the results as well as demands from dissatisfied candidates who claim election fraud occurred. Among these candidates was Republican Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo who lost by 14 points to incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson. Karamo’s accusations were not entertained by Republican Chairman Anthony Daunt.
In related news, the Board of State Canvassers unanimously approved the partial recount of Proposal 2, Promote the Vote, and Proposal 3, Reproductive Freedom for All on December 5. Proposal 2 will see recounts in more than 40 precincts while Proposal 3 will see recounts in over 500 precincts. This initiative was spearheaded by the Election Integrity Fund and Force, a group that has peddled election conspiracy theories.
Rep. Harris Bolden Appointed to MI Supreme Court
On November 22, Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed State Representative Kyra Harris Bolden (D-Southfield) to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Bolden is set to make history as the first Black woman to serve on the high court. This will also be the Governor’s first appointment to the Supreme Court. This appointment comes following the announcement of Chief Justice Bridget McCormack’s retirement earlier this fall after ten years on the bench.
In related news, Justice Elizabeth Clement was unanimously elected as the new chief justice and will take over for the remainder of Chief Justice Bridget McCormack’s term. Justice Clement was appointed by former Governor Rick Synder and elected to an eight-year term in 2018. Following her election as chief justice, Clement said she is committed to a judiciary that focuses on civility, transparency, and accountability.
MI GOP Chair Race
Following the announcement that the current Michigan GOP chairman Ron Weiser will not seek reelection, several candidates have announced their desire to run for the position.
The pool of candidates includes Kristina Karamo, the Republican 2022 Secretary of State candidate; 2022 Attorney General nominee Matt DePerno; and Lena Epstein, former University of Michigan Regent and congressional candidate.
The winners of chair and co-chair will serve for two years, guiding the Michigan GOP platform.
Senate Votes to Move Michigan’s Presidential Primary
On Tuesday, November 29, the Michigan State Senate approved, by a vote of 34 to 1, legislation that would move the 2024 presidential primary a month earlier. Senate Bill 1207, sponsored by Sen. Wayne A. Schmidt (R-Grand Traverse), would change Michigan’s presidential primary from the second Tuesday in March to the second Tuesday in February.
Earlier this year, a panel of Democratic National Committee (DNC) members voted to eliminate Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status for presidential primaries. On December 2, the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee approved moving South Carolina’s primary to February 3, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire three days later. Georgia and Michigan would vote thereafter.
SB 1207 did not pass the Michigan House of Representatives prior to adjournment for the year. If passed out of both chambers in the new legislative session, it will need sign-off from both national parties.
U.S. Capitol to Replace Cass Statue with Young Statue
Following the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 23, sponsored by Senator Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol will replace the statue of former Michigan Governor Lewis Cass with former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young.
Lewis Cass served as Governor from 1813-1831. Cass supported slavery and implemented policies to support the forced removal of Native tribes. Young was the first African American mayor of Detroit who oversaw major development projects in the City of Detroit and the auto industry. He is also a veteran, serving with Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.
In 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer took steps to rename downtown Lansing’s Lewis Cass building to the Elliott-Larsen Building to honor Representatives Daisy Elliott and Melvin Larsen who sponsored Michigan’s landmark civil rights act.