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Legislature to vote on extending Whitmer's emergency powers

Michigan Executive Office of the Governor
Governor Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on Michigan's repsonse to the COVID-19 pandemic on April 6, 2020.

The Legislature will meet Tuesday to vote on a resolution to extend the emergency powers Governor Gretchen Whitmer invoked to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

The House and the Senate have adopted special rules for in-person voting while adhering to health protections.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) says long-distance voting is not an option right now.

“There would certainly be some security, technology, transparency, legal concerns,” he said, “and we certainly would not want to allow that precedent to be started unless it’s done the right way.”             
Chatfield was on a phone and web call with southeast Michigan business leaders organized by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The special rules adopted by the House and the Senate will only allow a few lawmakers on the floors at any given time to cast votes before they’re expected to quickly exit. The process is expected to take about three hours.

The resolutions will extend the governor’s emergency powers until May first. Republican leaders have not agreed to Governor Whitmer’s request for a 70-day extension.

“There’s no way of telling what the perfect decision is,” said Chatfield, “but we’re doing the best we can to work with her and ensure it’s being done in a nonpartisan way.”

Meanwhile, Whitmer shared a different view in a session with journalists, saying, “If they’re coming in, I hope they’d seriously look at extending it to 70 days," she says. "I’d really hate for them to have to come back at the height of the crisis that we’re confronting.”

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.