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Michigan lawmakers head to annual Mackinac Policy Conference

2024 Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway
2024 Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway 02:05

(CBS DETROIT) — The halls of the Michigan Legislature are much quieter this week, as many lawmakers are on Mackinac Island for their annual policy conference. 

This year's agenda for the conference includes a focus on economic development, education and infrastructure. 

"I call this Lansing on steroids," said state Rep. Donni Steele.

The Mackinac Policy Conference is four days of speakers and sessions for Michigan lawmakers. This year, the policy conference will focus on "bringing the future together" and collaboration across divides. 

"I probably should be more open-minded to innovate," said Steele. "I guess I'm really thinking about taking care of the basics, which is our infrastructure, our roads and our schools, and making our community safe. I mean, let's get down to the basics of what I think that we need to do and have a vision that if we take care of the basics, the people will come."

On the other side of the aisle, state Rep. Carrie Rheingans says she's hoping to hear more about housing and health policy at the conference. 

"What we saw in the Population Commission's report that was announced last year in Mackinac is that we really need transit; we really need housing," she said. "So I'm curious how those will play into the discussions that we have this year at the Mackinac Policy Conference."

Lawmakers already spend lots of time together in the legislature, but Rheingans said the policy conference is an effective use of time because of the opportunity for true discussion. 

"We had time to kind of debate in a somewhat more private way than in a policy committee," she said. "Some of the pros and cons of issues that we were talking about, and it gave us a chance to ask questions without feeling like we might get attacked by even asking the question. So I did find it very helpful to just run into folks and talk about the topics on my mind or on their mind. So I do think it's time well spent."

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