Legislative Leadership: A Major Opportunity for Northern Michigan Business

Petoskey_Speaker Leadership event Jan 2019
(From L-R) Kent Wood, Alliance Government Relations Director; David Miller, Cadillac Area Chamber; Sarah Hagen, Charlevoix Area Chamber; State Senator Wayne Schmidt, Assistant Senate Majority Leader; Rep. Lee Chatfield, Speaker of the House; Rep. Triston Cole, House Majority Floor Leader; Carlin Smith, Petoskey Regional Chamber; Craig Simmons, Petoskey Chamber Gov’t Relations Chair

The 2018 statewide election brought change and ushered in new leadership in the Michigan House and Senate. Northern Michigan is poised to be one of the major beneficiaries of that leadership change with four regional members in significant leadership roles.

Speaker of the House – Representative Lee Chatfield (107th District)

House Majority Floor Leader – Representative Triston Cole (105th District)

Senate Appropriations Chair – Senator Jim Stamas (36th District)

Senate Assistant Majority Leader – Senator Wayne Schmidt (37th District)

Legislative leaders, especially the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader, have broad powers in the Michigan legislature. Their position allows them authority over who serves on which committees, committee chairs, what bills are brought up for a vote (if at all), and to which committee bills are sent.

Good leaders will also rely on their leadership team – which includes the Speaker Pro-Tempore, Floor Leader, and Whip, including the Appropriations chair and other committee chairs.  These individuals are often referred to as being “around the leadership table,” meaning they key advisors during the House and Senate leadership’s decision making process.

As new northern Michigan Speaker Chatfield remarked recently about why legislative leadership and advocacy is important: “if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu. Northern Michigan should be well represented at the [legislative leadership] table.”

In order to take full advantage, business advocates from northern Michigan must stay active and vigilant. Regional advocates need to continue to talk about the challenges that businesses face in our regional setting – including business and infrastructure in rural towns and small cities.

You can help by contacting these leaders – and your individual legislators – and talk about the importance of rural solutions to overcome the barriers to talent and economic development in rural areas.

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