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Politics & Government

Rep. Sarah Anthony On New Role As Caucus Chair For House Democrats

Representative Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) will serve as the Democratic Caucus Chair in the state House of Representatives.
Courtesy of Michigan House Democrats
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Representative Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) will serve as the Democratic Caucus Chair in the state House of Representatives.

Lansing Democrat Sarah Anthony has been tapped as the Democratic Caucus Chair in the state House of Representatives. WKAR’s Abigail Censky spoke with Anthony about the challenges she’ll face as a leader for the minority in a time of divided government.

Below are highlights of their conversation.

On Working With Republicans

In 2020, Democrats’ attempt to retake the majority in the state House of Representatives fell short—they failed to win the requisite four seats they needed for a flip while keeping the seats they had.

Now, going into the 101st session of the state legislature, Representative Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) will serve as caucus chair. Anthony says despite a frosty relationship between Republicans and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, she’s hopeful the two parties will be able to work together to advance bipartisan legislation.

"You know, I am always an optimist. And despite many of the headlines that talk about how divided we really are, I have been able to find a sweet spot in working really closely with some of my Republican colleagues to really find common sense non-controversial pieces of legislation to work on."

Anthony said she anticipates legislation addressing human trafficking and child marriage to have broad bipartisan support. She added that while, “yes, we may disagree on the approaches,” she thought efforts to speed up vaccine distribution and provide relief to small businesses would enjoy bipartisan support.

An End To 'Deceptive' Leadership

15 state lawmakers, all Republicans, backed efforts to oppose election certification signing on to a Texas lawsuit aimed at overturning the 2020 election results. Yet, oversight hearings in the state House and Senate did not uncover any fraud and a bipartisan group of election officials testified the 2020 election was free and fair. All 15 Republicans were seated on committees this week.

"We are leaders and people don't need to follow leadership that is deceptive or undermines the integrity of our democracy."

Anthony said it’s the speaker’s prerogative to seat lawmakers but added she's hopeful that in the “shadow of inauguration,” anyone seated on committees and serving in chairmanships will “actually turn a new leaf and put those divisions aside.”

Guns In The Capitol

After armed men stood over lawmakers in the capitol last April, two of whom were charged in the alleged plot to kidnap the governor, Anthony received an armed escort from constituents and began to call for a ban on guns in the Capitol.

In early January 2021 the Michigan Capitol Commission banned long guns and open carry weapons, but deferred on a concealed carry ban saying the commission didn’t have the funds to enforce a ban.

"We're very pleased that they addressed open carry, but anyone who walks in that building who works in that building, they know that that's not enough that a hidden gun in a bag in a coat can still inflict harm, can kill people."

Anthony said she won’t be satisfied until there’s a “complete ban of firearms in the state Capitol" and praised Whitmer for eliminating “the excuse that money is the barrier” by including capitol security in her budget request.

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