Like national politicians, state legislators all too often focus on partisanship instead of policy making, engaging themselves in rancorous debate that achieves little beyond gridlock. However, during one short period in Michigan's history, legislators stopped bickering and focused on forging compromise. Daniel Loepp's Sharing the Balance of Power chronicles the 87th Michigan Legislature (1993-1994), in which Republicans and Democrats successfully shared power.
In 1992, Michigan voters elected exactly fifty-five Republicans and fifty-five Democrats to the state house. As a result, the two parties each elected a co-speaker, and a shared power agreement was forged. Given the history of intense partisanship in the state house, political pundits predicted that any plan for shared power would disintegrate within months. What resulted instead was one of the most productive legislatures in Michigan history.
Author Daniel Loepp, chief of staff to Democratic Co-Speaker Curtis Hertel at the time, skillfully takes the reader "inside" the State Capitol, examining the key policy debates (including school finance reform), important personalities, and difficult negotiations. Loepp's balanced presentation is testimony to the two years of bi-partisan cooperation in which he took part.
In an age of public cynicism about the legislative process, Daniel Loepp offers the reader a refreshing story about two co-speakers and their 108 colleagues who came together in the spirit of bi-partisan representation to successfully serve their constituents, the people of Michigan.
Chapter 1: To the Victors Go the Spoils I
Chapter 2: Whoever Dares, Wins.....9
Chapter 3: A Fairy-Tale Beginning.....27
Chapter 4: Getting Down to Details 49
Chapter 5: House Fiscal Agency Scandal 62
Chapter 6: Setting an Agenda 91
Chapter 7: Partisan Ends, Partisan Means 121
Chapter 8: The Republican Tide, Maybe 132
Chapter 9: Change for the Good 146
Chapter 10: Perspectives of Shared Power 157
Chapter 11: Fair Shares for All 177
Appendix: Democratic/Republican Leadership Agreement 185
Illustrations following page 116