Making a better future for the next generation in Michigan.

The Michigan Senate Finds Its Mission — A Future Scenario

May 24, 2023 | Future Planning, Government, Michigan, Politics | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 18, 2026, 4:43 PM

The Michigan Senate chamber was empty. Senator Jeff Goodspeed was staring at the State Capitol Building from his office window. A blizzard made white lines on its ledges and rolling drifts on the grounds below. He had called his wife – he wouldn’t be making it home to Kalamazoo that night.

Most senators had left town before the blizzard hit, but he had an appointment to keep with the Michigan Senate Majority Leader. They talked about Jeff becoming the Party Whip. By the time they had worked out the details, the State Police had issued their “stay off the roads” warning. He was stuck.

He was stuck in another way, too. Goodspeed had been climbing the political ladder for 11 years – six on the Kalamazoo City Council, four in Michigan’s House of Representatives, and a year in the Michigan Senate. He loved winning offices and making good changes for people since he ran for Senior Class President at his high school. Now, he would have a leadership position — maybe a springboard to the governorship. The screen on his desk told him otherwise.

Goodspeed refocused on the story from Bridge Michigan. Polling now showed 54% of voters in favor of the “Abolish the Michigan Senate” amendment. Voters Not Politicians was leading the petition drive with funding from a Nebraska billionaire. They had collected over 200,000 signatures in three months and would surely get it on the 2028 ballot.

The campaign had taken the Lansing political community by surprise. Since Nebraska had created its unicameral – one house — legislature in 1937, the idea had bounced through the other 49 states and never gotten traction. Everyone was confident it would go nowhere in Michigan as well. Yet here it was.

Most voters knew little to nothing about the Michigan Senate. After news broke about the “conference committee budget deal of 2027,” though, they were prepared to think the worst. It appeared that a couple members of the Michigan Senate were bound for jail, including the former party whip.

A Detroit News editorial about the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature started the ball rolling. In Nebraska, there was no need for conference committees that cut deals for “friends” because there was only one chamber in their legislature. Everything was out in the open. Michigan should follow Nebraska’s example, they argued. #AbolishtheMichiganSenate started trending on social media.

With a long sigh, Goodspeed put on his overcoat, hat, and gloves, then stepped into the biting wind for the short walk to dine at EnVie. “If the voters decide they don’t need the Michigan Senate,” he thought, there won’t be much of a future for me in Lansing with 38 unemployed senators knocking on doors.”

He was soon seated at a table with a cup of decalf in his hands. The warmth was return to his fingers and face. Goodspeed scanned the few diners who had walked in. There were some he knew, or knew of, and one elderly woman who seemed familiar. It suddenly came to him – Nancy Pike, his old political science professor from MSU.

Goodspeed walked over. Pike looked up, “Senator Goodspeed.”

“You remember me?”

“I do. I try to follow my students who make it into public service. There’s not many of them.”

“You’re dining alone?”

“George is visiting his sister in Cleveland. Thought I would dare to walk the two blocks from my condo and have a good meal.”

“May I join you?”

“Have a seat.”

Their conversation flowed easily between bills in the Michigan Senate, families, MSU, the state of the world, and gossip about people. Their plates were almost empty when Goodspeed asked, “What do you think about this abolish the Michigan Senate business?”

Pike smiled, “Why not? Since all of you in the Senate and House represent the same people, aren’t you senators redundant? The public think of you as Tweedledee and Tweedledum-er.” Goodspeed’s eyes narrowed.

“OK,” Pike continued, “I’m being provocative, but why do we have a state senate when Nebraska and all of the Canadian provinces get along with one chamber in their legislatures? What’s the special mission of the Michigan Senate that justifies your existence? You need an answer to that question if you senators want to keep your jobs.” They fell into a thoughtful silence.

Pike smiled, “I do have an idea for you. Are you familiar with Wales, one of the four “nations” of the United Kingdom?” Goodspeed nodded. “My latest research is on a bill their legislature passed in 2015 called the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Since then, they look at every proposal through the prism of how it will affect future generations. Wales set up an office for a Future Generations Commissioner to oversee their efforts — what if the Michigan Senate took on that job? You know the Legislature focuses mainly on the needs of current voters – who’s looking out for the kids?”

“That’s interesting,” replied Goodspeed, thinking of his own children. “If we could write up a constitutional amendment for the ballot, voters would have a better question to answer – abolish the Michigan Senate or make it the protector of the next generation? I think we would be well placed for that because we have longer terms than the House members. We are under a little bit less political pressure of the day. Let’s get together and talk about it some more.”

Goodspeed and Pike made plans to meet again, paid their bills, and went their separate ways through the blowing snow.

After many more conversations and negotiations with other legislators and party leaders, Goodspeed sponsored a constitutional amendment that read:

The Well-being of Future Generations

  1. The Senate shall appoint a bi-partisan Council for the Well-being of Future Generations consisting of legislators appointed in the manner prescribed by law.
  2. The Council shall evaluate and report on how pending legislation will foster the economic, social, health, and environmental well-being of future generations.
  3. The Legislature shall appropriate funds for the council’s operations and provide for its staff.
  4. The Council shall recommend to the Legislature revisions to existing laws that compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

The proposed amendment passed in the legislature and was added to the 2028 election ballot along with the Unicameral Legislature amendment. Michigan senators fanned out across the state to promote the well-being amendment while Voters Not Politicians campaigned for a unicameral legislature.

When the votes were counted, the Unicameral Legislature amendment lost while Well-being of Future Generations won 54% to 46%. Michigan senators were relieved to keep their jobs and came back to work in 2029 with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for their mission. Jeff Goodspeed was appointed as the Chair of the Council for the Well-being of Future Generations. His wife Jane Goodspeed was happy that someone in Lansing would be thinking about the future of her children. When Jane was happy, so was Jeff.

Nancy Pike flew to Finland the next spring to interview parliamentarians about their Committee for the Future. “Never doubt the ability of an MSU Spartan to learn something new,” the 70-something professor had written to Jeff in an email.

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