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Democratic-controlled legislature elevates mid-Michigan lawmakers

Reginald Hardwick

Lawmakers who represent mid-Michigan districts are set to hold key leadership positions in next year’s Democrat-controlled state legislature.

The shakeup in the Capitol could affect the Lansing area.

Both the House and Senate Appropriations committees will be chaired by mid-Michigan Democrats starting next year. The committees are responsible for working with the governor to craft the budget as well as allocating funding to local governments across the state.

The lawmakers, whoseparty is controlling both chambers of the legislature for the first time since 1983, have a sweeping list of statewide priorities. But they have also have the Lansing area in their sights.

Sarah Anthony has been a representative since 2018. She was elected to the state Senate this year and will represent Eaton County and most of Ingham County.

As the incoming Senate Appropriations Committee chair, the senator-elect said it's time "for Lansing to own it's seat at the table."

“I think that this is a pretty historic time," Anthony said. "And it requires historic strategy and historic investment in the capital region.”

Anthony said lawmakers have historically had a strong partnership with the City of Lansing, including efforts to support its automotive and insurance industries. But she thinks the capital city has often been sidelined in terms of state funding.

The top issue that voters mentioned to her is affordable housing. And she wants the Lansing area to see sustained growth.

“Folks in the capital region want to see additional economic development, they want to see our region being a destination, not just a pass-through," Anthony said.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor agrees. He said one of his priorities is to work with the state to provide funding for local development projects. One of the most recent was switching traffic patterns from one-way to two-way on multiple downtown streets.

Schor, who is also a former state representative, said the city has a successful relationship under his tenure with both Democratic and Republican leaders in the state government.

“That was one of the things that I ran on when I ran for mayor," Schor said. "One of the many things I ran on was, you know, being able to get things done.”

The mayor says he plans to work with the new Democratic-majority in the Capitol to secure investments in infrastructure and help the city support its unhoused residents.

He also noted the pandemic has also taken a toll on economic activity in the city. He said about half of the state employees are back to working in the city, and the reduced activity has hurt the downtown region.

"The Lansing downtown area is still feeling the effects of state employees going home during COVID and not coming back," Schor said.

State lawmakers will take office on New Year’s Day.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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