LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The number of committees and appropriations subcommittees Senators and House members are sitting on is getting larger, as is the gap between the number of panels a majority member serves on and the number a minority member serves on.
This term, the number of panels an average majority Senator is sitting on is nearly double what it was in 1987, another year in which the partisan breakdown was 20-18.
Democratic senators this year, on average, will be serving on 7.75 legislative committees and appropriations subcommittees each, a historically high number among Michigan’s previous majority caucuses. The average Republican will serve on 4.22.
When Republicans held a 20-17 seat majority in the Michigan Senate at the start of 1987, the average majority caucus member had 3.95 committee assignments and the average Democratic senator had 3.23. During the 1987-88 legislative term, there was also a vacant seat in the Senate. That year, the most committees any one member served on was 7 (former Sen. Harry Gast), which is lower than this term’s average.
The number of committees per member and the gap between the two parties have gradually been growing over the years, MIRS has found.
By the end of 2022, when Republicans led the Michigan Senate with a 22-16 majority, the average Republican senator served on 6.9, including standing committees, appropriations subcommittees and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). The average Democrat served on 4.44.
In the last Senate term, six senators – Sens. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Twp.), Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), Lana Theis (R-Brighton), Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway)and present-day Rep. Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington) – interchangeably served on the highest number of committees at nine each.
This year, senators with the most committee assignments will consist of Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) at 11 and Sens. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe), John Cherry (D-Flint), Rosemary Bayer (D-Keego Harbor), Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) and Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) each serving on 10 different committees.
This year, the average Republican senator was provided a little more than four committee assignments, with Theis having the most among the minority caucus at eight and Sens. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs) and Jon Bumstead (R-North Muskegon) with seven assignments each.
In the 2015-16 legislative term, when Republicans led the Senate with a 27-11 seat majority, the average Republican senator had 5.25 committee assignments and the average Democrat in the chamber was assigned to 5.
More than a decade ago, when Senate Republicans kicked off the 2011-12 legislative term with a 26-12 seat majority, the average conservative lawmaker in the chamber had 5.19 committee assignments with Democrats acquiring an average of 4.75, according to a MIRS analysis.
The same dynamic is playing out in the House, but the numbers are not as dramatic due to the larger membership.
This year for the House, the average Democratic representative – part of the party’s latest 56-54 seat majority – was calculated to have had 4.25 assignments for the 2023-24 term. Meanwhile, Republicans were assigned to an average of 2.59.
Reps. Alabas A. Farhat (D) and Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) had the most committee assignments with seven each, and Reps. Natalie Price (D-Berkley), Donavan Mckinney (D-Detroit), Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor), Jasper R. Martus (D-Flushing), Phil Skaggs (D-Grand Rapids), Jimmie Wilson Jr. (D-Ypsilanti), Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills), Julie Brixie (D-Okemos) and Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) followed with six each.
The Republicans on most committees this year are Reps. Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan) and Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock) with five each.
During the 2021-22 term, when Republicans held a 58-52 majority in the state House, conservative lawmakers served on 3.9 panels each, on average. Democrats at the time had a calculated committee-assignment average of 2.85.
When Republicans held a 56-54 majority in the House during the 1995-96 term, similar to the one held by Democrats today, the average conservative lawmaker was on 3.75 committees and the average Democrat 2.76.