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Wentworth: I Don’t Know Where We Go From Here

May 11, 2021

House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) said Tuesday morning he doesn’t know where working relations with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) go after last week’s unexpected announcement on tying COVID restriction rollbacks to vaccinations. 

Wentworth told WJR-AM Tuesday morning that he and Shirkey thought they were on the path to work out a wide-ranging agreement with the Governor on the budget and appointments when the trio met the last couple weeks. 
 
Instead, the Governor took action on a portion of what they were talking about with little head’s up and no clear indication that she was interested in moving forward on the other pieces, he told guest host Steve Mitchell. 
 
Wentworth’s overall takeaway was skepticism about “getting things done” in the future when “this is how people operate.” 
 
“I ran for office to help veterans just get things done,” he said. “When I served in the Army, I knew I could trust the people to my left and my right because I knew we were serving with honor and we were fighting for the same thing. We trusted each other during that time so I put a lot of value on that. 
 
“The Governor; she had a lot more experience, obviously, working in Lansing and playing politics than I do. I thought we could work together, fix the problems in state government and get back to normal. 
 
“I took a chance on that. Apparently, I was wrong,” Wentworth said. 
 
MIRS has learned Wentworth and Shirkey’s reaction to last week’s announcement has the Governor’s office and legislative Democrats somewhat befuddled. 
 
For one, the Republicans are getting essentially the policy they want. They wanted the elimination of restrictions tied to metrics. They’re getting that. They wanted a seat at the table. They got that. They wanted recognition for their contributions. They got that. 
 
The Republican leaders were also given a head’s up on the press conference to the extent that they could have asked to participate if they wanted to attend. 
 
In essence, the general reaction on the other side has been, “What’s the big deal?” The scaling back of restrictions based on vaccination rates is something being done at the administrative level, not with legislation. Functionally, the legislative leaders didn’t play a role in creating the policy other than either suggesting it or supporting the concept behind closed doors. 
 
Also, the Senate’s rejection of the Cherry Commission appointees last week was not in reaction to the press conference, MIRS has learned. Farmers in the region were agitated that the Governor removed two of their own from the commission. They found political allies in their two northwest Michigan senators, who convinced their Republican colleagues to go along with the plan. 

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