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MI House will meet to approve veto-proof limits on emergency powers

Office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The Michigan House will meet Wednesday for a one-day session to adopt a petition initiative to reign in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers. The initiative would repeal a law Whitmer used to issue many COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic.

The Michigan Supreme Court already struck down the 1945 law and ruled the governor has to seek periodic re-authorization of emergency orders from the Legislature under a separate statute.

Republican leaders plan to adopt the initiative rather than let it go before voters. The Senate approved the initiative last week. The vote in the Republican-controlled House is expected to play out the same way.

“We do have another law that allows for emergency powers for the executive,” said Representative Andrew Beeler (R-Fort Gratiot). “We’re going to vote to repeal an ambiguous, indefinite and unspecific law that has a better replacement on the books.”

Sam Inglot with the group Progress Michigan says there’s nothing opponents can do to stop the effort at this point. But, he says, elections are coming next year.

“What we plan to do is hold these Republican lawmakers accountable and make sure the public knows that with the little bit of precious time that they’ve had in Lansing over their summer break that they’re using it to essentially political grandstand.”

Ron Armstrong of Hastings is small business owner and a co-chair of the petition campaign Unlock Michigan. He says future courts could reverse the decision that struck down the 1945 statute.

“So we needed to get rid of this law so no other governor, Republican or Democrat, in the future would ever be able to utilize this law to lock down or control unilaterally every aspect of our lives,” he said.

Armstrong says Unlock Michigan is not done, and will launch another petition drive soon that will take aim at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ power to issue emergency orders.