State Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer is on a tear lately. After dressing down Republicans for their passage of an anti-bullying bill that was anything but last week, today she read them the riot act for going on a two-week deer hunting season vacation when they have so much left undone.
To my colleagues: we are poised today to leave the Capitol for a two-week vacation. Before we do, though, I ask a very simple question: what in the world has this chamber accomplished that warrants taking a vacation? Michigan unemployed workers won’t get a vacation. Our families and seniors won’t get a break. And school bullies certainly aren’t taking a break.
You promised you were going to focus on what mattered most: creating jobs and protecting our children. But if you were going to claim that you’ve lived up to that, it shows just how dangerously out of touch you are. Your agenda this year has been driven by partisanship and social pandering. Instead of working to create jobs, this chamber has wasted our time and taxpayers’ money on issues like making English the official language in Michigan and demanding that our kids say the Pledge of Allegiance every single day, while, amazingly, in the process, endorsing enumeration of a class of protected bullying victims. That’s why you didn’t pass a real bullying bill last week. That was your rationale and you just did it today. And, three, the critically important issue of allowing converted school buses to carry watermelons! That’s what you passed today.
Your agenda is actually starting to convince me that we should have a part-time legislature in Michigan. We’ve given you opportunity after opportunity to live up to your promises and work on legislation that would actually create jobs and better the lives of Michigan’s people. But, apparently, a jobs bill sponsored by Democrats isn’t worth your valuable time. And, just last week, you made yourselves a laughing stock of the nation by actually passing a bill that gives bullies a free pass for tormenting our kids. Your actions have labeled by news media around the world as disgraceful, laughable, and one news site called it “the worst bill in the history of the universe”. Is that what you think earns you a two-week vacation?
And, ya know, I found it noteworthy that when our colleague from the 24th district, the former sheriff of Eaton County, referred to Senate Bill 137 today as “the bullying bill”. Not the ANTI-bullying bill. Well, that speaks volumes. Senator, that’s exactly why we voted against your bill, because it was a “license to bully”.
So, it looks like the House of Representatives is poised to pass their own bill that is about anti-bullying today. One that actually protects our students unlike the one you passed last week. It’s inexcusable to suggest to our students that you can’t work one day next week to pass a bill and send it to the Governor as quickly as possible on an issue as important as our kids’ safety. I’ll be ready to come into this chamber next week and go to work. Our students will be in class. Our workers will be at work. Our seniors and families, they’re all going to wonder what’s truly important to you if you’re not ready to do the same.
Thank you and I ask that my remarks be printed in the journal.
By the way, the bit where she talks about “endorsing enumeration of a class of protected bullying victims” refers to a bill they passed requiring the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in every classroom every morning. The bill says that kids don’t have to participate and, if they don’t, the other kids aren’t allowed to bully them. So, they carved out a specific group of kids protected from bullying, something they said wasn’t needed in their so-called “anti”-bullying bill last week and something they did in the House bill passed late yesterday. The hypocrisy is blatant.