Michigan Legislature To Continue To Meet Despite Advice On Public Gatherings

"Obviously, we have to be here"

WWJ News
March 12, 2020 - 2:00 pm

LANSING (WWJ) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is advising Michiganders to avoid gatherings of 100 people or more due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But what about the 148 lawmakers who meet three days a week in Lansing?

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports, at least so far, there are no plans to halt meetings and proceedings at the State Capitol, despite that recommendation. 

But, couldn't they just extend their Spring Break a couple of weeks?

"I think that right now we have to get to work for the people of our state," answered House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering). "We need to go as business as usual, and ensure that the people of our state are safe, and we're going to work with the administration every day to make sure that happens...We're gonna keep working." 

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, agreed, telling Skubick: "Obviously, we have to be here." 

Rep. Aaron Miller, R-Stugris, said he's been getting an earful from three of his relatives who work in the medical field. As new information on the COVID-19 pandeminc continues to come in, what action does he think lawmakers should be taking?

"I like to take a step back and watch a situation first before making a knee-jerk decision," Miller, said Thursday. "Watch and wait — and do take precaution in the meantime — but the worst thing to do is panic." 

The State Senate on Thursday voted to earmark $25 million in state tax dollars and $50 million in federal funds for a total of $75 million to address coronavirus.  It's part of the supplemental budget bill to be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer once the House approves it. 

Sen. Curits Hertel, D-East Lansing, who co-sponsored the legislation, said a big chunk of that money should go toward testing.

"We need to have robust testing going on in these communities right now," he said. "One of the problems we have is we have no idea how many people in this state or in this country actually have the virus. We know those who have gotten sick, and they've been tested for that reason, but we need to go out into those areas and find out about community spread."