Michigan Gov. Whitmer asks Legislature to extend emergency powers 70 days

April 7 update: Some in masks, Michigan lawmakers extend Whitmer authority amid coronavirus

LANSING — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday issued an expanded disaster declaration and asked Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature to extend by 70 days her authority to take emergency actions amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, appears to be on board with an emergency extension and is considering ways to meet next week without violating social distancing guidelines after one legislator contracted the virus and another died of a suspected link. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, indicated he could support a shorter extension but said the 70-day request — which would continue the emergency declaration through early June — is “too long.”

Whitmer told GOP leaders she believes she has “multiple independent powers” to continue addressing the crisis on her own but said acting under a state law that requires legislative approval “provides important protections to the people of Michigan.”  

The concurrent resolution she is asking lawmakers to approve would not change the expiration date of her earlier orders, including the stay-at-home directive set to expire April 14, but it would ensure she has the ability to extend that order or issue others if deemed appropriate. 

“My administration must continue to use the full range of tools available to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our state and its residents,” Whitmer said in a letter to Chatfield and Shirkey. “I welcome you and your colleagues’ continued partnership in fighting this pandemic.”

The executive order Whitmer signed Wednesday replaces the state of emergency she declared March 10 with a broader emergency and disaster declaration.  

The original order was effective for 28 days and was set to expire next week. It’s not immediately clear if the new order would last another 28 days. 

Whitmer wants the Legislature to extend the new order before it expires “given that the public health risks associated with the Legislature meeting will only increase in the coming weeks,” said spokeswoman Tiffany Brown. 

Chatfield plans to reconvene the House for session on April 7 “to legislatively extend the state of emergency,“ according to spokesman Gideon D’Assandro. “The House is reviewing details of the request.”

Shirkey said Senate Republicans agree that “emergency circumstances persist in our state” and could support a shorter extension than the 70 days Whitmer is requesting. The upper chamber is also tentatively scheduled to meet April 7.

“The circumstances surrounding the outbreak of this virus in Michigan change rapidly and often,” Shirkey said in a statement. “ The conditions we are experiencing today will likely be different than those we encounter next week, next month, or in 70 days.  As such, we feel a much shorter extension is logical to help protect our citizens and support our health systems.”

Shirkey made clear that Senate support for a “reasonable extension” of the emergency declaration does not mean Republicans support a “lengthy extension” of Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which she has not proposed at this time. 

The Senate leader, in a Facebook post earlier Wednesday, said Republicans are “pushing hard for surgically designed and incremental loosening of some restrictions” in that order, which forced the closure of many businesses. “It’s a tough call for our (governor), as you can imagine,” Shirkey wrote. 

State Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, sent Whitmer a letter on Tuesday urging her to allow some “non-essential businesses” like construction crews and landscapers to resume operations so long as employees maintain social distancing recommendations. 

“Many entities operate with just one, two or three people in any location at any given time,” Cole said. “Single-family new construction projects, remodels, pole barn/garages, landscaping, dock work, lawn maintenance, delivery of materials, and several other jobs can be completed with very limited social interaction and without jeopardizing public safety.

Whitmer’s request for the Legislature to extend her emergency authority would require the Michigan Legislature to meet for the first time since March 17, when lawmakers wrapped up a marathon session by approving a $125 million coronavirus response package.

A lot has changed in two weeks, including the unexpected death of state Rep. Isaac Robinson, a Detroit lawmaker whose mother suspects he had COVID-19.  State Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, has tested positive for the virus but was recovering as of last week. 

D’Assandro said any future House meetings may look quite different.

“There are plans in place right now to limit the exposure, if in fact the Legislature needs to meet,” he said. 

House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, earlier this week told Bridge Magazine she shared social distancing ideas with Chatfield before the Legislature met two weeks ago. 

Despite new staff restrictions, Democratic lawmakers were still “very concerned about being at the Capitol for 12 hours and only voting on one substantive bill,” Greig said. “We definitely could have done better.”

Legislatures in other states have sought to meet in remote sites or taken creative approaches like having members check in one at a time on the floor to convene session, and returning to the floor one at a time to vote, she said. 

“We have to make sure that we have the distance, and we’re not taking any chances,” Greig added.

D’Assandro told Bridge that staggered voting is among the options being considered by GOP leadership. 

“Some of the details are being worked out, but there’s largely a plan in place,” he said.

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Comments

5G Radiation
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 2:14am

This whole thing is utterly ridiculous from top to bottom ! All because the current occupant of the of the White House didn’t handle the situation correctly. Whether it was done on purpose or not, because of this now everybody else has to suffer smh... This should be common knowledge for everyone ! We can’t depend on this government on any level to help meet the needs of the people. People still face hardships because of this lockdown. From utilities being shut off to being evicted all because their jobs closed due to “COVID-19” and the governors order. Not to mention food and household goods and other things that need to be bought from time to time. This is ridiculous all the way around. The government sure doesn’t wait to take money from you, but when they have to give it back you have to wait for an eternity it seems. If you have to go to Washington your self to get what is needed, do that ! Meanwhile open the the state back up and implement precautions at the same time ! People have to live. People have to survive, and we can’t depend on the government to work for us because of the track record ! Don’t believe me, try applying for any government assistance then you’ll see. Nothing but the run around and then when you get the assistance you need, here comes all of their ridiculous prerequisites, but I guess that’s all apart of service to the people right ? Utterly ridiculous...

Agnosticrat 2.0
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 8:39am

It seems to me that the Democrats continue to push for a responsive government and push for programs that help workers while the Republicans voted into office to destroy government do nothing but stand in the way.
Republican Mike Shirkey is the perfect example of this. He is afraid that you want to live on the dole forever. In the middle of a crisis he wants to re-arrange the deck chairs and throw up roadblocks.
If you are having trouble getting benefits, assistance, running into red tape it is because of him and those that vote for him.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 9:41am

You mean that guy who not only warned everyone back in JANUARY what was coming, but also closed the borders?

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/31/801686524/trump-dec...

I 100% agree with you on everything else, our society was NEVER designed to function with so many people not working (due to government order) and forced to stay at home (also due to government order).

We're already looking at a statewide recessions due to Gov. Whitmer's ill conceived actions.

If the Michigan Legislature acquiesces to her demand for 70 more days (and they would be fools if they did), we won't be in a recession any longer, we'll be in a depression. Count on it!

Try running a state government when THAT happens?

Bones
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 11:51am

One of these days, reality is going to sucker punch Kevin in the face and it's going to be a complete shock to him

Edward Shakes
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 5:57pm

This is the quote- "The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus," Trump said. "They tried the impeachment hoax. ... They tried anything. ... And this is their new hoax." It is quite clear that the "this" in his statement was referring to the "politicizing of the coronvirus"." The President was saying that some people would believe that he was doing nothing, and that was the hoax because he was doing something. A simple google search using the keywords Trump and coronavirus in January or February will easily show that he wasn't calling the virus and it's spread a hoax but rather was implementing real policies to battle it.

Either you don't understand the English language and are unaware of the history in our nation, or you know these things and are dishonestly attempting to fool people based on false information. I suspect the second and suggest that you quit spreading hoaxes and attempting to politicize the virus to your benefit.

Colleen johns
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 4:35am

What is wrong with you? Such hogwash

Mike
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 8:28am

It never ceases to amaze me the stupidity of our state government. With today's technology, they could work from home without any major issues.

stephen c neumeyer
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 1:14pm

for the love of god stop trying to hold the state hostage.

Scotto
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 11:01pm

She states we need to stay in the house no contact we are not even close to being ok or evn better. We need to stay home. But im not extending the 14th dead line so go to work but stay home. Im lost over here. So is it stay home go to work. President states april 30th. So does she follow it or send people back to work. But remember stay home stay safe. HELP.

Colleen Johns
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 4:42am

70 days stay at home is ABSOLUTELY INSANE!!!! These Democratic Leaders are Scary because their all about POWER over WE THE PEOPLE!!

RKClassic
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 10:36am

Gretchen has a job, steady income....she doesn't care if You or I do, she doesn't pay our bills, their hatred for our President overrules any beneficial gain for us peons.

Anonymous
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 6:09pm

Whitmer and liberal nutcases are creating a socialist welfare state. Americans need to wake up and fight.

Jim48043
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 1:54pm

"Multiple independent powers," eh? Like Trump's assertion that he has an Article 2 (sic) which says he has the "right to do whatever [he] want[s]? " One problem, of course, is that none of these people have the slightest idea of their own limitations, but their parents convinced them they were great.

Voter
Sun, 04/05/2020 - 10:29am

The 70 day plus addition to 3 weeks is not based in reality . You can not expect people to shutter themselves indoors that long and family s will not be able to do it . Business as we know it will be gone by the end of the lock down. No business no tax base. She will never be elected to another term. And I am a democrat !

Niki
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 7:18pm

We NEED to get back to work! What good will all this do if there's nothing left? Let the low-risk citizens and those who can work while still maintaining a safe distance GET BACK TO WORK! I never thought I'd agree with the Repubs, but I do on this.