The Latest: Michigan House votes to extend legislative power

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the Michigan Legislature’s lame-duck session (all times local):

6:25 p.m.

The Republican-led Michigan House has voted to empower the Legislature to intervene in any lawsuit at any stage, a right already granted to the state attorney general.

The bill approved Wednesday is opposed by Democrats who call it another power grab in the lame-duck session before Democrats begin leading top state offices in January. The measure could ensure the GOP’s ability to support laws if Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic Attorney General-elect Nessel drop appeals in cases the state loses.

Republicans dispute criticism that the legislation would undermine the role of the attorney general. They say it would simply ensure that the Legislature has a voice as more public policy issues are addressed in the courts.

Democrats question the timing and counter that the legislation is an unconstitutional overreach. The bill next goes to the GOP-led Senate.

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5:10 p.m.

Over Democrats’ objections, the Republican-led Michigan Senate has passed a bill that would guide the incoming secretary of state in creating an independent redistricting commission to draw congressional and legislative maps.

Michigan voters last month passed a constitutional amendment to have the 13-member commission of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents handle redistricting instead of the partisan Legislature. The legislation approved Wednesday would prescribe criteria for determining applicants’ political affiliation.

Republicans say the bill would not in any way affect the voter-approved ballot measure and would ensure ‘partisan evenness and equity” on the commission. But Democrats and proponents of the redistricting law say the incoming Democratic secretary of state is perfectly capable of implementing it without intrusion from the GOP-controlled Legislature.

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2:25 p.m.

Bills advancing in Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature would strip power from the incoming Democratic secretary of state.

A state Senate panel voted 4-1, on party lines, Wednesday for bills to have a bipartisan commission oversee campaign finance instead of the secretary of state. Jocelyn Benson is poised to become the first Democratic secretary of state in 24 years when she takes office in January.

Democrats say the move is a bid to limit their power after an election in which they made gains, while other critics say the commission would deadlock and ensure lax enforcement. Republicans say the concept is not new, and voters recently showed their support for independent panels to be involved in elections by approving a redistricting ballot initiative.

The full Senate could vote later Wednesday.

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5:40 a.m.

Republicans who control Michigan’s Legislature are expected to vote on bills that would strip power from the Democratic secretary of state-elect and give lawmakers authority to intervene in lawsuits.

Democrats won the governor, attorney general and secretary of state’s offices last month. But before they are sworn, GOP legislators are hoping to enact laws limiting or affecting the Democrats’ powers .

One bill up for consideration Wednesday would create a commission to enforce campaign-finance requirements rather than incoming Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Another bill could impact Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel when they consider the state’s positions on laws subject to legal challenges.

The legislation would empower the Legislature to intervene in any suit at any stage — a right already granted to the attorney general.

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