Back in September the Michigan Republican Party formally endorsed a change of presidential primary dates. That was a non-binding move however, as it requires action on the part of the state legislature to shift the date of the presidential primary. But as the lame duck session of the Michigan state legislature winds down, it appears as if the state government is slowly catching up and aligning with that September endorsement of a March 15 primary.
During the first week after the legislature reconvened for the bulk of its post-election lame duck session, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-17th, Monroe) introduced legislation concerning the presidential primary in the Great Lakes state. SB 1159 would move the Michigan presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in March.1 Importantly, the bill, if passed and ultimately signed into law, would move Michigan back into compliance with the national party delegate selection rules barring non-care-out state primaries and caucuses from being held prior to the first Tuesday in March. However, in its introduced form, the legislation was not in sync with the prior Michigan Republican Party-endorsed primary move.
On December 11, SB 1159 was amended, providing for alignment with the state Republican Party. The amended version -- calling for the primary to move to the third Tuesday in March -- passed the state Senate with just two dissenting votes. The bill moved immediately to the state House where it has been stuck in committee all week as the clock runs out on the 2014 legislative session.
That last day is today -- December 18 -- and all signs point toward a sine die day discharge of the bill from committee and a potential floor vote. Final days are always busy, so this bill may or may not pass today, but it looks as if Michigan will move off the list of potential problems for the 2016 presidential primary calendar, whether now or in 2015.
NOTE: Other legislation currently still in committee in the state House includes the bill to alter the method of allocating electoral votes in Michigan. Again, final days can be crazy, but there has been no discharge effort made on this bill.
1 Its companion bill, SB 1160, would also move February school elections to the same date in March during presidential election years. Those two sets of primaries were concurrent in 2012. That consolidation and its costs savings were used by Michigan Republicans as an argument against moving the presidential primary to a compliant primary date in 2012.
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