Whitmer moves State of the State to avoid conflict with Trump's speech

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News
Gov. Whitmer visits a Lansing warming center Tuesday morning after declaring state of emergency due to bitter cold front coming in.

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday she is moving her first State of the State address to Feb. 12 so she can avoid a conflict with President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.

Whitmer had been scheduled to deliver her remarks before a joint session of the Michigan Legislature on Feb. 5, the same night Trump is now expected to deliver his annual address after accepting a Monday invitation by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  

“I think both speeches are incredibly important, and I want to make sure the public has an opportunity to absorb both," Whitmer told reporters at an unrelated event in Lansing.

State House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, discussed Whitmer's request with other officials and signed off later Tuesday by extending her an official invitation into the House chambers on Feb. 12.

“We look forward to listening to your remarks and continuing a meaningful discussion about the future of this state,” Chatfield wrote. “It has been our pleasure to work together on preparations for the address.”

MoreTrump, Pelosi agree on Feb. 5 for State of the Union

MoreWhitmer issues state of emergency ahead of cold

Trump was originally scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address on Jan. 29, but Pelosi, a California Democrat, cancelled the Republican president's speech amid a record-long federal government shutdown that ended Friday, citing security concerns that Trump officials called unfounded.

Whitmer this week sent Chatfield a letter suggesting they delay her speech by a week so it would not coincide with the president's.

Chatfield agreed a few hours after saying he needed to discuss the request with Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, the House clerk, the chief sergeant at arms, the Michigan State Police and Capital Facilities officials. 

The House and Senate will need to adopt a new concurrent resolution to make the new date official. 

Whitmer is expected to use the speech to lay out her plans for her first year in office, including proposals related to her campaign pledges to “fix the damn roads” and improve K-12 education.

While scheduling conflicts between the speeches are rare, Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his 2015 State of the State address on the same evening as Democratic then-President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. 

Chatfield made national news earlier this month when he invited Trump to deliver his State of the Union address at the Michigan Capitol amid the partial federal shutdown. Trump declined his offer last week in a 12-minute phone call.