11 lawmakers absent from first session day of 2022, Senate OKs anti-vaccine resolution

By: - January 13, 2022 5:44 am

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, Jan. 12, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Three Republican and eight Democratic members of the Michigan Legislature were excused from session Wednesday, the first time both chambers have met since 2021.

In the 38-member state Senate, Sens. Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes), Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and Jim Ananich (D-Flint) were excused from session.

The House has 106 members and four vacancies. State 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) were absent from the chamber.

Hertel disclosed on Twitter Wednesday morning that his family is quarantining after one of their children tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

Michigan has been in a surge of COVID cases since fall and the faster-spreading omicron variant has helped lead to record hospitalizations this week. It is not yet clear whether COVID-19 caused any of the other absences in the state Legislature. Leadership does not announce members’ COVID-19 diagnoses and leaves that up to lawmakers to disclose.

Last week, state Rep. Bradley Slagh (R-Zeeland) disclosed for the first time that his 62-vote absence at the end of 2021 was due to having contracted the virus.

The House and Senate will not hold session Thursday.

On Jan. 5, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tested negative for COVID-19 for a second time after her husband, Marc Mallory, tested positive. She had been isolating while awaiting the PCR results. Attorney General Dana Nessel said Monday that has tested negative for the virus a second time. She has been isolating while feeling ill.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist announced Sunday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic, after his daughter, Ruby, tested positive.

The only item voted on in the state Senate Wednesday was a symbolic resolution to condemn President Joe Biden’s vaccine and mask mandate for teachers and staff of Head Start programs.

Senate Resolution 101 calls the mandate an “egregious” “overreach of executive authority,” and states that it “serves no public health purpose and will result in resistance, not compliance.”

It was approved 20-15 along party lines.

Democrats, including state Sens. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), pushed back against the resolution and criticized Republicans for again politicizing COVID-19 safety measures. 

“I hear my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say that they don’t believe that mandates are the way forward but I have yet to hear, three years later, what the proposed solutions are,” McMorrow said.

“I hear that we need to inform and inspire, yet Michigan has an overall vaccination rate somewhere around 56%, while babies are getting sick and ending up in the hospital,” she continued. “It is heartbreaking, as we enter a new year, that this is the first thing that we are wasting our time on.”

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).

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