In my sixteen years in the Michigan House and Senate (spread out between 1990-2018), I’ve learned many lessons. This latest lesson to us all is “to be ready for anything.” No amount of experience could have prepared the Legislature for the challenges the coronavirus pandemic is currently presenting. Unprecedented public health challenges and logistical challenges will need to be addressed to simply keep the Legislative Branch operational.
As of this writing, based upon my conversations with both members and staff of the House of Representatives and the Senate, no one is precisely certain of the specifics of how the people’s business will be conducted. As was demonstrated by the House and Senate session of April 7th, the utmost effort is being made to protect the health and safety of members, staff, and citizenry alike. The session calendar indicates a return to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday session days beginning May 5th, save the extension of the “stay-at-home” order, and in the coming weeks there is a Joint Committee meeting on the COVID-19 response. In keeping with Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order, both partisan and non-partisan staff are working entirely from home–and they could remain so even after the “stay-at-home” order is lifted or modified. The logistical challenges of facilitating committee and floor action may result in far fewer, but much longer, session days.
The pressures of the Legislative Calendar have always been used by the Caucus leaders to compel the “Collective Legislative Mind” to focus on the challenges before it. This dynamic will be magnified ten-fold in the session days that remain before the summer recess. The demands of addressing the policy and budgetary aspects of the coronavirus crisis, the normal aspects of the Appropriations process, and individual members and caucus policy priorities will tax the Legislature to its limits.
I am confident they are up to the task.
The House and Senate will undoubtedly “Burn the Midnight Oil” for the balance of the spring session.
We have created a response team to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation and the law and guidance that follows, so we will continue to post any new developments. You can view our COVID-19 Response Page and additional resources by following the link here. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.
Director of Governmental Affairs at Fraser Trebilcock, David B. Robertson was a Michigan State Senator of the 14th District of Michigan, representing Southeastern Genesee County and Northwest Oakland County. While a State Senator, Mr. Robertson was elected Caucus Chairman by his colleagues, and introduced non-partisan legislation positively impacting Michigan residents. He can be contacted at 517.377.0836 or firstname.lastname@example.org.