Hundreds of protesters filled the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday to voice their fierce opposition to Republican efforts that would curb incoming Democrats’ authority and stomp on measures to raise the minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave.
Demonstrators traveled from around the state and as far as the Upper Peninsula, an organizer with Progress Michigan told HuffPost. Pressed against railings in the building’s gilded rotunda, they chanted and slapped their hands on the banister in unison.
“Hey hey, ho ho, lame duck has got to go!” protesters shouted.
In November, Michiganders elected a Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer; a Democratic secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson; and a Democratic attorney general, Dana Nessel ― all set to replace Republicans. And although Republicans will still enjoy a majority in the state’s House and Senate, their grasp weakened significantly as a number of Democrats were elected to each chamber.
Michigan’s GOP has responded inelegantly. Members of the state Legislature are moving quickly in the lame-duck session to diminish the incoming officials’ power, mirroring GOP efforts in neighboring Wisconsin.
Proposals under consideration would kneecap the governor’s and attorney general’s abilities to intervene in lawsuits and diminish the secretary of state’s role in campaign finance oversight, among other impairments. Michigan Republicans are also rushing to weaken unions and slash measures that would have raised the minimum wage and given workers access to paid sick leave.
Whitmer has sharply criticized Republicans’ actions but has not been among the protesters.
Outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has not yet indicated whether he will approve any of the legislation, largely seen as an effort to undermine voters and Democrats.
“Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people won’t stop!” protesters chanted Wednesday.
An organizer with Progress Michigan, which streamed the event on Facebook, said the group plans to keep the pressure on lawmakers throughout the lame-duck session.