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State House remembers late Rep. Peter Pettalia

Black ribbon and a spray of flowers cover the desk of late state Rep. Peter Pettalia, who died Monday evening in a motorcycle accident on his way to the legislative session in Lansing.
Rick Pluta
Michigan Public Radio Network

There are now two desks on the floor of the state House draped with black ribbon and bedecked with flowers.

Lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Tuesday to the news that state Representative Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was killed Monday evening in a motorcycle crash.

The desk of state Representative Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) also remains vacant after she died this summer from a heart attack.

State Representative Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) remembered Pettalia’s warmth and sense of humor as he delivered a prayer and eulogy at the opening of the day’s House session.

“I think about how he loved to be in everybody’s business,” said McBroom. “He went around and got to know us all because he was so nosy. And, if he were here, he probably would have asked to read the prayer about him first.”

Pettalia was killed Monday evening in a motorcycle crash on M-33 in northern Michigan’s Montmorency County. Pettalia sponsored a bill that helped to lead to the repeal of Michigan’s mandatory helmet law, but the Michigan State Police say he was wearing a helmet when he was killed.

The House’s business for the day was largely scrubbed and plans for roll call votes were cancelled as staff, friends, and colleagues mourned.

“We are a tight-knit group of colleagues who often feel like a legislative family, and no one made you feel more like part of his family than Representative Peter Pettalia,” said House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant).

Pettalia chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He was in his third and final term serving in the state House.

Before serving in the House, he was a local elected official, small business owner, and volunteer fireman.

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