Michigan Small Businesses and Lawmakers want more of a voice in COVID-19 restrictions
NILES, Mich.- The Grand LV in Niles has been struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. As a venue for large events, business has been very slow for owner Don Kennedy, who decided it was time to let Lansing know. He invited Republican Michigan State Representative Brad Paquette, who represents most of Berrien County in the Michigan House of Representatives, to speak with a group of small business owners in what Kennedy called a "Peaceable Assembly" in order to get on the same page about getting better represented when COVID-19 restrictions are made.
"We, like many businesses, are not against restrictions," Kennedy said. "We're not against mask wearing, social distancing, whatever safety measures are necessary to keep people from spreading the virus, but those orders have been handed down with a very broad brush."
Kennedy said he wants Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to consult more with elected representatives when deciding on statewide safety measures. Representative Paquette agreed.
"Today, we have a whole lot of individuals who just want to have their voices hear," Paquette said. "When they realize that their voice isn't being heard through a legitimate form of representative government that they deemed credible, if they aren't able to be heard, they are going to form peaceable assemblies. They are going to defy some of these orders because they don't believe them to be legitimate."
Elsewhere in Michigan, that is already happening. Small businesses like Rise and Shine and Galaxy Roller Rink are operating in direct conflict with Governor Whitmer's latest restrictions. Owners of businesses like those said they are doing so in order to survive.
"Not being mean about it, but I know they're not going without a paycheck," Amy Kidwell said, who owns Galaxy Roller Rink. "I've been without a paycheck and so have my employees for four months. We're all hurting."
Representative Paquette said Governor Whitmer must be more willing to listen to those who disagree in order to develop a more effective strategy in fighting COVID-19.
"A strong leader is able to yield and is able to listen to opposing voices not bunker down and say 'I need to be more defensive and stick to my guns,'" Paquette said. "A one size fits all approach for ten million people across the state is the wrong approach. It always has been which is why representative government is the way it is."
Paquette said he hopes the Governor will work with the state Legislature more in the future on the State of Michigan's COVID-19 response so as to avoid another lawsuit in the future.