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Important bills on hold as Michigan House cancels sessions due to COVID-19

Michigan Capitol Building
Posted at 6:22 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 19:37:53-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Normally this would be a chaotic and busy time in Lansing for State Representatives. Instead, work has stopped.

The Michigan House canceled sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19.

This comes after the State House Panel found itself in the national spotlight. President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani held an almost five-hour-long hearing before a Republican-led State House panel. He shared claims of voter fraud that largely have been dismissed by courts as not credible.

Mr. Giuliani was then diagnosed shortly after with COVID-19.

A House employee filed a complaint after the hearing with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is now investigating whether House policies are violating laws requiring masks during in-person meetings and putting workers at unnecessary risk of COVID-19.

“We don’t have to be shut down, because Rudy Giuliani did not have to come here. People did not have to not have masks on,” said State Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-6th District.

“We were supposed to have over a hundred bills on the agenda up for a vote,” said State Rep. Laurie Pohutski, D-19th District.

Representatives Pohutski and Carter say important work is now not getting done. COVID relief bills for businesses and workers, food assistance bills, and even a bill to fund the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine are now on hold.

“So how do we roll it out if we don’t have funding?” asked Carter. “We don’t have a plan. It doesn’t just happen miraculously.”

7 Action News reached out to numerous Republican lawmakers requesting interviews. We received a statement from Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield, saying the staffer’s diagnosis is unrelated to Giuliani’s hearing.

He said, “However, some representatives who have been working closely with that person are now choosing to test and isolate pending results. Because of that, we will no longer be holding session or committee on Wednesday or Thursday.”

Representatives Pohutski and Carter say stopping work because of a refusal to mask up and take precautions is an insult to the memory of Representative Isaac Robinson.

“I can’t even begin to fathom the audacity of some of my colleagues, to walk into that chamber, walk past that desk, know that we are short a member because we lost him to this disease, and refuse to take precautions,” said Pohutski.

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