Confused about the governor’s executive powers? That’s OK. It’s complicated. | Michigan Radio
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Confused about the governor’s executive powers? That’s OK. It’s complicated.

May 1, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun at a press conference, May 1, 2020.
Credit michigan.gov

This post was originally published on May 1. It has been updated to include details from the latest stay home order, which Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on May 7.

On Thursday, Republicans in the state Legislature adopted a measure to rein in Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive power.

Over the objections of Republican lawmakers and angry protesters, Whitmer signed new executive orders Thursday evening extending the state of emergency through May 28.

“Right now is not the time for politics. Right now is the time to do the next right thing," Whitmer said in a televised town hall meeting Thursday evening. "And that is continuing the stay home orders, continuing the state of emergency.”

Legislative leaders say they plan on taking the governor to court over her authority to issue new executive orders to combat COVID-19.

"We had been negotiating with the governor leading up to this. We had made several offers and things how we thought we could better partner with her and be a resource to her and be a voice to people. She's rejected all those offers," House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) told Doug Tribou Friday morning. "We did not extend the state of emergency because we want to come back in and get back to the regular democratic process and move our state forward together through this crisis.

"The governor declared yesterday she is above the law, she no longer needs the Legislature, and she unilaterally extended it."

Since the state of Michigan announced its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on March 10, the governor has signed more than 60 executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They cover a wide variety of things -- from restricting services like veterinary and dental care, to ending the school year early.

The expiration dates for these also vary widely, with the longest being in effect 60 days past the end of the state of emergency. 

Here we break down key things to know:

On Friday, Whitmer issued an executive order that allows certain businesses that present a very low risk of infection to resume May 7, including: 

  • Construction
  • Real estate activities (In-person open houses are prohibited)
  • Work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors

Here's what's currently closed or suspended until May 28

  • Non-essential medical or dental procedures
  • Non-essential veterinary services
  • Places of Accomodation: theaters, restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, libraries (They can operate under carry-out or delivery only.)
  • Non-Essential Personal Care Services: hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, tanning parlors, tattoo shops, piercing shops, massage services, or any service where maintaining six feet of distance between people would be impossible.
  • Civil and probate actions and proceedings

Under the latest executive order, "places of accomodation" do NOT include:

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Food pantries
  • Office buildings
  • Providers of medical equipment
  • Health care facilities
  • Residential care facilities
  • Warehouse and distribution centers
  • Industrial and manufacturing facilities

Under Whitmer's "Stay Safe, Stay Home" order, residents are required to stay at home through May 28, except for essential needs, which include groceries, health care emergencies, outdoor activities like walking, running, or biking, or because they work in an essential field. 

Currently, there is an executive order putting a moratorium on evictions, but it expires May 15.  

Other items of note include the expiration of visitor restrictions at jails and prisons on May 24. Additionally, restrictions on visitors to nursing homes, hospitals, and juvenile justice facilities are set to expire May 3. 

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