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Whitmer officials to appear before GOP-led COVID committee

Governor Gretchen Whitmer answers questions from reporters in Traverse City on October 9, 2020.
Dan Wanschura
Interlochen Public Radio

The legislative committee looking into the state’s COVID-19 response meets again Monday – where top health officials in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration will face questions from lawmakers.

This will be the first committee hearing since the state Supreme Court struck down the governor’s continued use of emergency powers and encouraged the Legislature and Whitmer to strike a bargain.

Republican state Representative Matt Hall (R-Emmett Twp.) chairs the joint House and Senate COVID-19 committee.

He expects there will be questions about infections in nursing homes, as well as why some parts of the economy were allowed to re-open while similar businesses remained in shutdown.

“You know, you can use a canoe, but you can’t use a motorboat. This store can stay open. This one is closed,” he said in a phone interview. “I just want to understand better how those decisions are made, and I just want to understand better how those decisions were made and what impact data and science had on those decisions.”

Hall said he also will ask about why the state’s health department chief quickly used a separate authority to issue a similar set of emergency health orders.

“I expect there would be questions about those orders, too,” he said, “and talk and conversation about those.” 

Hall said he does not want the effort to become embroiled in election year politics – but acknowledged that may not be possible -- and he does not expect the committee to issue findings or recommendations before November 3rd.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.