Amid the threat of being taken to court by the Republican controlled State legislature, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended the State’s State of Emergency by executive order.
“COVID-19 is an enemy that has taken the lives of more Michiganders than we lost during the Vietnam War,” Whitmer said in a statement.
“While some members of the legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods yet,” she added.
Per DetroitNews, Whitmer’s extension came after Republicans in the House and Senate said they would not extend her declared state of emergency, which they believe expired at the end of Thursday.
In the eyes of GOP leadership, that means the executive orders she issued, including the stay-at-home order that she issued through May 15, also expired, said Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering.
DetroitFreePress reports the Republican-controlled Legislature is planning to take Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to court over her exercise of state emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.
As expected, GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate made no move to extend legislative approval of Michigan’s state of emergency, which was set to expire at the end of the day Thursday.
Whitmer says the state of emergency continues by executive order. And late Thursday, she issued new executive orders extending the state of emergency through the Emergency Powers of Governor Act, terminating existing states of emergency and disaster under the Emergency Management Act, and declaring new states of emergency and disaster under that act, all effective through May 28.
Whitmer issued a separate order extending the closure of Michigan bars, theaters, casinos and other places of accommodation, and limiting restaurants to carry out and delivery service, through May 28. Previously, that order was set to expire May 15.
But House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, told the Free Press that Whitmer no longer has authority to enforce emergency orders starting Friday morning. That is why the Legislature offered to partner with her Thursday by enshrining in law most of the emergency orders she has issued related to COVID-19, with the same expiration dates she used, he said.
But if the governor does not partner with the Legislature by signing the bills, and thereby exercises emergency powers without legislative approval, the next step is a court fight, he said.
A notable exception to the orders included in the legislation passed Thursday was Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. That is because it needs to be revamped with a more regional approach and fewer restrictions, Chatfield said.
“We are all in this together — therefore we should all be working together,” Chatfield said.
Whitmer said she will veto the legislation incorporating her executive orders, which she said is unconstitutional.
“Moreover, the governor will not sign any bills that constrain her ability to protect the people of Michigan from this deadly virus in a timely manner,” her office said in a news release.