Advance Notice: Briefs

No sessions for House and Senate next week after credible threats

By: - January 15, 2021 2:19 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

The second week of the 101st Legislature will not feature any House or Senate sessions.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) made a joint announcement Friday afternoon, following credible threats from law enforcement.

As the Advance has reported, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned of armed violent protests being planned in all 50 state capitols and Washington, D.C. This comes after a pro-President Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“The Michigan State Police, as well as House and Senate sergeants at arms, have expressed concern over credible threats regarding events scheduled to take place at and around the state Capitol next week. With no votes scheduled on the calendar, we have decided to act in an abundance of caution by not holding session in either the House or the Senate on January 19-21. We hope everyone stays safe and respects the peaceful transition of power, and we hope legislators and staff at the Capitol take time to thank the team of police officers and sergeants who work together to keep us all safe,” Shirkey and Wentworth said.

“As we have said before, the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week was a terrible moment for our country. We must be better than this as a nation, and that begins this week with what will hopefully remain peaceful protests and demonstrations in Washington, D.C., Lansing and around the country.”

Shirkey said in a radio interview on Monday that he believed the FBI warning wasn’t necessary.

“It just hurts my heart to hear that the FBI is announcing things like that, and I don’t think it’s necessary. And it is up to us as citizens of this nation to calm that down. And the best way for us to do that is to become neighbors again, not enemies,” Shirkey said on WJR-AM.

At a briefing Friday morning, local, state and federal law enforcement officials announced Friday there will be significant increases in the number of police officers around the state Capitol building for the next week. The increased Michigan State Police presence will continue through mid-February.

“Security enhancements that have been put in place include both seen and unseen measures,” said MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper. “I can assure you that we take our responsibility for safeguarding the Capitol and those who work and visit here seriously and, together with our law enforcement partners, we will be prepared to ensure law and order.”

The Capitol was last briefly closed due to a bomb threat last week.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.