Opinion: Whitmer must act for bipartisanship

Jim Lilly
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan is entering an era of divided government at the state Capitol, and that means bipartisan cooperation will be absolutely essential. That is why many of us in the House and Senate are going out of our way to reach across the aisle and start building consensus on many of the state’s top issues.

We want to make sure our work gets done and the people of Michigan get the service they deserve, no matter which party is in power. But bipartisanship is a two-way street, and right now it seems like Republicans in the Legislature are the only ones on the road.

Ever since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel took over we have seen nothing but a steady stream of partisan attacks against Republican priorities and reforms. From the Line 5 opinion request to our Attorney General to questioning the accountability system for our schools which would rank them from A-F, to withdrawing from lawsuits entered into by former Attorney General Bill Schuette or to attempt to redraw our House districts to give a majority to the Democrats, the partisan lines are clearly being drawn by the left.

This is a break from the bipartisan cooperation and the "Building Bridges" theme we were sold by these new Democrat politicians when they took office, and that has been a major disappointment.

The latest move came when Whitmer recently attempted to strike down Republican government transparency laws passed last year with a simple stroke of her pen. Republicans in the Legislature finally pushed back on that abuse of her power, voting to halt her executive order, but she still had the nerve to cry foul in the press and dishonestly blame the Legislature for launching the “opening salvo” and abandoning bipartisanship.

The simple truth is the speaker of the house and the Senate majority leader were never consulted before any of these controversial decisions. They were not invited to negotiations. They were never even given a heads-up.

Republican leadership tried to extend an olive branch to get the governor to come to the table, but when she refused to build bridges and negotiate, the Legislature had to act with the only tool we had left.

Our leadership team reached out to the governor’s office, asking anyone to come before our committee and explain her decision before we took action. No one came. They did, however, have no issues taking the time to meet with select special interests lobbying on the issue.

Rather than reverting back to campaign talking points, the governor should work with the Legislature and find a way we can protect our Great Lakes and ensure we all have clean drinking water. Instead she chose to go it alone and resort to cheap political gamesmanship afterward, telling the media Republicans were voting to hurt the environment. I genuinely believe Whitmer knows better, but she said it anyway. That is no way to lead.

Campaign promises and political rhetoric is easy, but governing collaboratively is harder. From the very first day of the new Legislature, we have been making a real effort to give the people the leadership they deserve and bring our Democrat counterparts to the table on important issues. House Republicans are asking the governor to work with us so we can find solutions for our state.

Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, represents the 89th district in the Michigan House of Representatives.