Lawmakers get back to work in Lansing on a bipartisan note - FOX 32 News Chicago

Lawmakers get back to work in Lansing on a bipartisan note

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By Tim Skubick
Fox 2 News


LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -- The two political parties have pledged to work together in the New Year at the state capitol despite their severe differences over a variety of issues last year, including right-to-work.  Meanwhile, lawmakers were greeted by some union protestors on their first day back on the job.

The scene was much different from last month when 500 state troopers greeted 17,000 demonstrators.  The numbers were much smaller Wednesday, but the anger over right-to-work is still there.

"Absolutely, very angry.  They're ruining this state.  They're anti-union," said Chuck Dimball.

Inside the capitol, the 110 House members were sworn in and there was zero drama.

There was chatter earlier that the Republicans might try to unseat Harper Woods Democrat Rep. Brain Banks because he had eight felony convictions on his record as a young man, but Banks was seated without any Republican protests.

There was also chatter that the Democrats might protest the election of House Republican Speaker Jase Bolger, but when that vote were taken, only two Democrats were no votes.  The vast majority of House Democrats voted to support the Republican speaker, not wanting to get off on the wrong foot.

"You start out at a protest and you end up in a war.  That's not what we're after.  We're after good government.  We're after making sure that we can make some decisions that are going to make sense coming out of this legislature," said Rep. Fred Durhal, Junior.

The only decision made Wednesday was where the lawmakers would sit for the next two years as they heard pledges of bipartisanship from both the speaker and new Democratic House Leader Rep. Tim Greimel.

"This doesn't mean that we're going to get together and sing 'Kumbaya' at every opportunity, but it means that we're going to restore some basic mutual respect in this chamber and look for opportunities to advance the interests of middle class families, which I think is what everybody in the state really wants," Greimel said.

The Republican speaker and Mr. Greimel have had extensive talks in an attempt to put the past behind them.

"The focus needs to be on our citizens, not Republicans and Democrats, not one caucus or the other.  The focus needs to be on getting the job done, but yes, we had multiple meetings and several phone calls about how we can work together," said Bolger.

"Do you trust him," I asked.

"We're continuing to build that relationship.  I don't know him that well, but I think we established quite a bit of trust in the recent days."

So the games begin on an upbeat, positive, bipartisan note.  One wonders how long it will last.

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