Michigan’s Political Process

Smart energy policy is critical to our energy future. But how do our legislators in Lansing go about making the laws, policies, and regulatory decisions that shape Michigan’s energy outlook? The information below should provide some answers.

Term Limits in Michigan

Energy policy begins with who’s in office, and Michigan has the strictest term limits laws in the nation. The 2018 elections will see nearly 70 percent of state senators and more than 35 percent of representatives leave office or transition to higher office in 2019.

The constant turnover in our legislative system means AMP’s advocacy efforts are particularly vital.  We need to elect candidates with a good understanding of what’s at stake, and then educate those lawmakers on the issues so they are prepared to make smart policy choices. The makeup of the legislature can change significantly every two years, but building a smart energy system is a long-term endeavor. We need a consistent, responsible regulatory framework to make it possible.

Michigan Legislature 101

The Michigan Legislature is bicameral—meaning it is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate

  • 38 members from 38 state senate districts
  • Represent ~ 212,400 to 263,500 Michiganders
  • Elected at the same time as the governor to four-year terms

The House of Representatives

  • 110 members from 110 state house districts
  • Represent ~ 77,000 to 91,000 Michiganders
  • Elected in even-numbered years to two-year terms

The Role of the Michigan Legislature

During each two-year legislative session, the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives:

  • Draft, consider, and pass bills into law
  • Levy taxes and appropriate funds to support state institutions and government services
  • Propose amendments to the state constitution
  • Consider legislation proposed by petition
  • Oversee the executive branch
    • Administrative rules and audits
    • Committees
    • Budget processes
    • Gubernatorial appointments (Senate)
  • Consider proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution

How a Bill Becomes Law

In Michigan, most bills are passed into law following the same key steps, a process that offers several different opportunities for AMP members to make their voices heard on energy issues.

  1. Bill introduction

In the Senate:

  • Bills filed with Secretary of Senate
  • Assigned a bill number (beginning with Senate Bill 1 at start of each new session)
  • Joint resolutions assigned a letter (in both chambers)

In the House:

  • Bills filed with Clerk of the House
  • Assigned a bill number (beginning with House Bill 4001 at start of each new session)
  • Joint resolutions assigned a letter (in both chambers)
  1. Title Reading: A bill’s title must be read three times—twice in the Senate and once in the House—before it can be considered.
  2. Bill Printing: Each chamber must have in its possession a printed or reproduced copy of the bill for at least five days before it can be passed.
  3. Committee Referral: Upon introduction, a bill is referred to a committee:
  • In the Senate, by the Majority Leader
  • In the House, by the Speaker of the House
  1. Committee Review and Action: Committees discuss and debate a bill, sometimes holding public hearings, and take one of the following actions:
    1. Report the bill out of committee favorably
    2. Report the bill favorably with amendments
    3. Replace the bill with a substitute bill
    4. Report the bill without recommendation
    5. Report the bill with amendments and without recommendation
    6. Refer the bill to another committee
    7. Take no action
    8. Vote to not pass the bill out of committee
  2. Committee Reports: Once passed favorably, the committee report is filed and the bill goes back to the chamber that introduced it.
  3. General Orders and Second Readings

In the Senate:

  • Bill is placed in “General Orders”
  • Senators offer amendments
  • Amendments approved by majority vote
  • Bill moves to “Third Reading”

In the House:

  • Bill goes to “Second Reading”
  • Representatives offer amendments
  • Amendments approved by majority vote
  • Bill scheduled for “Third Reading”
  1. Third Reading

After a third round of consideration, the bill is either:

  • Passed or defeated by a roll call vote
  • Returned to committee
  • Postponed indefinitely or until a certain date
  • Tabled for good

Depending on the outcome, legislators can pass motions for reconsideration within the following two session days (for the Senate) or by the end of the next session day (in the House).

  1. Final Passage

Once passed by either chamber, the bill moves to the other chamber to be voted on or amended following the procedure outlined above.

  1. Approval by Governor

After final passage, the Governor has 14 days to consider a bill, after which he or she must:

  • Sign the bill into law, usually effective after 90 days after the Legislature adjourns
  • Veto the bill and return it to the Legislature
  • Choose not to sign or veto the bill
    • If the Legislature is in session or in recess, the bill becomes law after 14 days
    • If it has adjourned during this time, it does not
  1. Legislative Veto Response

If the governor vetoes a bill, the legislature can override it with a two-thirds vote, passing the bill into law or table or re-refer the bill to committee.


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