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Senate GOP authorizes lawsuit against Whitmer

 Michigan Capitol building in Lansing
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing.

The Michigan Senate voted along party lines Thursday to authorize a lawsuit against Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The Senate Republican majority approved a potential challenge to Whitmer’s use of line-item vetoes in budget bills. The bills were meant to rein in Whitmer’s use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said it’s time to let people and businesses make their own decisions on how to be safe during the pandemic.“The people of Michigan know what to do, and they’re just waiting to be informed, inspired, encouraged, and then trusted," he said. "And right now, we’re still in an environment where this governor does not trust the people of Michigan to do the right thing.”

It will be up to Shirkey to decide whether and when to file a lawsuit.

Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said Republicans are trying to thwart Whitmer’s ability to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
“I hope we can get back to a place where we can do our job, and come together and compromise,” he said. “If you offer no plan, and just complain, and the few things you do offer, they don’t take 100% of it, that doesn’t mean they’re not listening. That means they don’t agree.” 

Whitmer has said she won’t bargain away the power of her office to deal with the pandemic.

Press Secretary Bobby Leddy said in an emailed statement that court action would be a waste of time and money better spent dealing with COVID-19.

“At a time when every penny is needed to help us get back to normal and grow our economy, it defies common sense that the Legislature would try to block money from going to schools to help children learn in person safely,” he said.

Republican lawmakers won a decision last October in the Michigan Supreme Court in a challenge to Whitmer’s use of executive orders.

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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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