Stamas unveils portrait of Michigan’s first woman appropriations chair

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas and Capitol officials on Wednesday unveiled a portrait of the late Sen. Shirley Johnson, who was the first woman to chair a legislative appropriations committee.

“For more than 25 years, Shirley Johnson was a dedicated public servant, a trailblazer and a tremendously effective legislator who worked across the aisle to get things done,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “In 2003, Shirley made history when she became the first woman to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee — leading the body through tough economic times. While it has been said that ‘no woman wielded more power in the history of the Michigan Legislature,’ Shirley loved nothing more than the humble roles of loving wife, mother and grandmother.

“I am glad that her family and many of her former colleagues and staff were able to help us unveil a portrait of her in celebration of her life, leadership and contributions to our state.”

Stamas and members of Johnson’s family and former staff were joined by Capitol Historian Valerie Marvin and Secretary of the Senate Margaret O’Brien to unveil the Johnson portrait, which was funded by private donations and will be displayed in the office of the Senate Appropriations Committee chair in the Michigan Capitol.

Johnson was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1980 and served in the House through 1998. In 1999, she won a special election to the Senate, was re-elected in 2002, and served in the Senate through 2006. She died in January at the age of 83.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 22 in honor of Johnson’s life and legacy.