Detroit Regional Chamber > Speaker Chatfield Talks Shifting Legislative Priorities

Speaker Chatfield Talks Shifting Legislative Priorities

April 6, 2020
The Michigan Legislature is expected to vote to extend Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s State of Emergency Declaration by 23 days today in Lansing. With members of the House practicing extreme social distancing and allowing no more than five representatives on the floor at the same time, it could take three hours alone just to check in tomorrow.

What are the big takeaways?

First, there is not enough information on COVID-19 in Michigan to know when businesses required to close can start re-opening. Clearly more time and data are needed to determine when the declaration and restrictions on businesses can be safely lifted.

Second, the vote will extend the Governor’s declaration and give her the ability to extend her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, which is currently set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 13. The Governor extending her executive order appears likely.

Third, Legislative leadership, including House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-MI 107), have voiced support of exploring a more risk-based assessment in evaluating business operations that can be applied to regions of the state rather than a blanket statewide directive.

What does this mean?

The Legislature is not expected to grant the full 70-day extension the Governor sought and will opt to approve a shorter version. The Legislature wants to maintain flexibility to revisit that decision sooner in hopes that more information will be available in coming weeks to reassess the need for the declaration by the beginning of May.

Stay tuned for updates.

 Speaker Chatfield Talks Shifting Legislative Priorities

In yesterday’s Tele-Town Hall, Speaker Lee Chatfield (R- MI 107) estimated that the COVID-19 crisis could have a $1 billion to $3.5 billion impact on the state budget, but said it’s hard to predict until it is known how long the current restrictions need to remain in place.

“There is no way of fully knowing what the entire budget impact will be because I don’t know how long this will go,” Chatfield said. “Early indicators are showing at least a $1 billion to $3.5 billion impact to our state budget. Federal aid will help but it won’t backfill the entire list of state revenues (impacted).”

Chatfield said the budget hit will force the legislature and administration to prioritize what is most important in the state budget once they are through the crisis. He touted the need to maintain the attitude of collaboration throughout the budget process.

“We are all in this together and the less political we can make this the sooner we get out of it,” Chatfield added.

Speaker Chatfield joined Chamber CEO Sandy K. Baruah and Vice President of Government Affairs Brad Williams on Monday as part of the COVID-19 Tele-Town Hall Series. In closing he praised his partnerships in the Detroit area, including the Detroit Regional Chamber, and called for continued collaboration.

“This is an unprecedented challenge that our country is facing and I think it requires unprecedented leadership,” said Chatfield, pledging to work with leaders at the state and federal level regardless if he agrees with every decision.

“The success of Governor Whitmer right now means the success of the state of Michigan, and the success of President Trump means the success of America,” Chatfield added. “(Americans) have met every single challenge that’s ever been thrown to us and that’s because we have always stayed united. And that’s my message to everyone whether they are Republican or Democrat. This is non-partisan issue. We are all in it together.”

Listen to the full session with Speaker Chatfield.