LANSING, Mich. — A local state representative is asking the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to change guidelines related to capacity limits at high school sporting events.
State Rep. Bryan Posthumus, R-Cannon Township, says other action, including a resolution and legislation, is being considered.
“What I’ve seen...what I’ve heard from our constituents is this puts an undue burden on our families,” said Posthumus. “When I was growing up it was a big deal for my family to spend that time together at athletic events.”
This week Posthumus sent a letter to Elizabeth Hertel, director of MDHHS. In it, Posthumus pushed Hertel to exclude the immediate family members of local high school athletes from capacity limits, writing, “We should be supporting our students and their families at every corner, not creating more of a struggle.”
Posthumus also introduced a resolution on the issue and says a bill is being drafted if Hertel declines to act. According to the Government Operations Committee clerk, Posthumus’s resolution has been received, but it is not on any agenda at this time, so it’s not clear if it will go anywhere. Posthumus told FOX17 he expects his legislation to be introduced within the next few weeks.
“When you talk about single mothers who have two kids at home plus a student athlete that’s trying to compete, that single mother has to decide, 'Do I go watch my child compete, or do I stay home and babysit the kids? How do I manage that?'” said Posthumus.
The current MDHHS order limits spectators in three ways - in facilities with fixed seating of more than 10,000 seats, the maximum number of fans is 500. If there are fewer than 10,000 seats, it’s 250 people. For venues with no fixed seating, no more than 100 people may watch. The state recommends two spectators per athlete to meet those restrictions; although, it’s just a suggestion, and schools could allow more people per athlete.
Posthumus says even so, not every school can do so now, and excluding immediate family members, such as siblings, would ensure fairness.
“Communities here in Kent County are significantly different than communities in Southeast Michigan or Lansing, so what I wanted to do is give the opportunity to local communities and give them the ability to say, 'Okay, this is what’s right for our community. This is what’s best for our kids,'” said Posthumus.
Hertel’s office did not reply to a request for comment.
Posthumus hosted a roundtable on the issue Friday afternoon. Click here to watch it.