Michigan House cancels votes this week due to COVID-19 spread

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click to enlarge House Speaker Jason Wentworth, - Laina G. Stebbins/Michigan Advance
Laina G. Stebbins/Michigan Advance
House Speaker Jason Wentworth,

The state House of Representatives isn’t voting on any bills this week due to a number of members and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, are awaiting test results or need to be tested after a close contact tested positive.

“Unfortunately, the same COVID wave that is spiking across the country is now reaching a high point in Michigan,” said House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) in a statement Monday. 

A majority of Tuesday’s House committee meetings were canceled, but that decision was left to the discretion of individual chairs.

“Nobody wants to see COVID get in the way of normal business and delay work on issues that are important to Michigan families. However, we have nothing on the agenda this week that must be done immediately, and the votes can be rescheduled for next week,” Wentworth said. 

It’s unclear exactly which state legislators have COVID-19. There is no mandate in the House or Senate to report positive test results. Wentworth spokesperson Gideon D’Assandro said he does not have a definitive list of how many members have tested positive for COVID-19 or are otherwise quarantining. 

On Wednesday, the first day of legislative session in 2022, there were a number of Democratic House members who were absent: Reps. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), Joe Tate (D-Detroit), Alex Garza (D-Taylor), Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores), Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills), Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette).

Hertel told the Advance Tuesday that he tested negative with a PCR test on Friday after his son tested positive last week.

The Senate is resuming session as normal this week and all 38 senators were present at Tuesday’s session. 

“I just want to point out to my colleagues again that as the House of Representatives is not meeting, our local governments are being required to meet,” Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said Tuesday during session in urging the Senate to pass a bill to extend virtual meetings for public bodies until March 31. 

All other state services from the Capitol will still be available this week, including representatives and staff being available to answer questions, take feedback and help constituents.

Originally published January 18, 2022 on Michigan Advance, it is shared here with permission.

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