Governor Gretchen Whitmer told a business group Wednesday that she can’t predict exactly how long her emergency measures will be required to address the COVID-19 crisis.
That was at roughly the same time those powers were being challenged in the state Supreme Court.
The governor has issued more than 170 COVID-19-related executive orders. The governor has withdrawn and re-issued orders, she says, to meet changing circumstances.
“We’re still, I hate to say it, still in the relatively early phases,” she says. “This remains a novel virus. We’re learning an incredible amount about COVID-19 every day, every week.”
And the governor agrees she’s been prolific in her use of executive orders during what she says is an unprecedented crisis.
“These are authorities that we have conferred on our chief executive in extraordinary circumstances to keep people safe,” she told members of the Detroit Regional Chamber during an online question-and-answer session.
Whitmer also says Michigan needs to be ready for a “second wave” of COVID-19.
Simultaneously, the state Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue. Republicans in the Legislature and some businesses want courts to determine that Whitmer acted beyond her authority.
Assistant Michigan Attorney General Michael Williams is representing the Legislature’s GOP leaders. He says the governor has cut the Legislature out of the process.
“The governor would have a very strong statutory basis to do whatever she wished to do,” he argued to the justices. “Her view would empower her to do whatever she’d like throughout the state of Michigan, and those carefully calibrated levers of government would instead be ignored.”