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House approves initiative to rein in emergency powers

Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

A law Governor Gretchen Whitmer used to issue emergency orders during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic was repealed Wednesday by a vote by the state House of Representatives.

Republicans were frustrated by Whitmer’s continued use of unilateral COVID orders.

Representative Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale) said Whitmer used those powers in defiance of the wishes of the Legislature.

“Allow me to tell you what I think of the idea that we need the governor to do our job for us months into the outbreak of a new virus. I think that idea is disturbing in its distrust of the citizens of this state,” said Fink. “I think that idea is depressing in its view of the Legislature’s capacity to conduct its work in difficult circumstances.”

Representative Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) said the initiative will restore the balance of power between the governor and the Legislature.

“I will not be voting ‘yes’ today. I will be voting ‘hell yes,’” said O’Malley.

Representative Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) said the initiative should instead go to the ballot.

“So that every single Michigander has an opportunity to voice their opinion about this,” Manoogian said.

Three Democrats crossed over to join the Republican majority. The petition initiative cannot be vetoed by the governor. A separate emergency powers law that remains on the books requires the governor to get periodic re-authorization from the Legislature.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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