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Senate GOP creates panel to vet Whitmer appointees

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
FILE - Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, is the sponsor of a Senate-approved bill that would require Medicaid recipients to work, get education or get training every week. It is scheduled for a House vote on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.

Lansing — Michigan Senate GOP leadership has established a new committee whose duty will be to vet appointments proposed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Advice and Consent Committee will replace the existing process that sent proposed gubernatorial appointments to individual committees relevant to the appointment or straight to the Senate floor, said Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

First reported by the Michigan Information & Research Service, the decision to establish a committee dedicated solely to the review of Whitmer’s appointments was an “organizational choice,” McCann said. 

Republican Sen. Peter Lucido of Shelby Township will serve as chairman for the committee.

“We expect the committee process to be deliberative and thorough,” Shirkey said in a statement announcing the Senate committee chairs. “We look forward to robust policy debates and bipartisan work product, where possible.”

Whitmer has confidence in Shirkey and Lucido and looks “forward to a fair and thorough process,” her spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint acknowledged that part of the Senate's duties was to advise and consent on appointments, and the chamber "should always perform its due diligence regardless of whether a D or an R follows the governor’s name.”

Under current law, the governor's appointments are effective immediately, but the Senate has a 60-day window to confirm or deny the appointment after being notified of it. If after 60 days, the Senate neither approves nor denies the appointment, the individual is confirmed by default. 

The process includes a review of an appointee’s personal and professional history and could include a committee hearing, McCann said.

That committee process also could be waived as it was during Lame Duck, when senators approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s appointments to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority mere hours after one of the members’ appointments was announced. The authority will oversee the construction of Enbridge’s Line 5 utility tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The Senate is not the only chamber making changes to the committee process.

Last week, House Speaker Lee Chatfield announced a new legislative review process that would require proposed laws gain approvals from two House committees before proceeding to a vote on the House floor.

Similar to processes used in Congress and in other states, the dual oversight will "encourage more debate and give our bills a much stronger look," Chatfield said in a statement.  


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