Advance Notice: Briefs

Session canceled after lawmaker contracts COVID-19

By: - August 3, 2020 12:54 pm

Michigan Capitol, Sept. 20, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

Following the announcement of state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) Sunday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, GOP legislative leadership announced that session in both chambers will be canceled for the rest of the week.

The House and Senate did not extend the same protocol when state Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) died from a suspected COVID-19 infection in March or when state Reps. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) and Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) said they had coronavirus this winter.

“In light of one of our colleagues recently testing positive for COVID-19, I encourage all caucus members to be tested,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said in a statement Monday.

“The Senate will cancel committees and session for this week, August 3-7, to allow adequate time for execution of protocols and receipt of results for individuals who choose to be tested. We all wish Senator Barrett a speedy recovery.”

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Shirkey spokesperson Amber McCann did not immediately answer an inquiry about whether stricter COVID-19 precautions are being considered at the state Legislature.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) said in a statement that lawmakers and members can still contact the House Business Office about local testing options.

“The House has taken aggressive and comprehensive action to protect members and staff from COVID-19, including flexible remote work options, making testing available, changing technology and voting procedures to encourage social distancing, and expanding cleaning at the Capitol and the House Office Building. Our new procedures will remain in place to continue to protect representatives and staff,” Chatfield said.

Video calling has been introduced in some committee meetings, while legislative sessions remain in-person.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. 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.