Michigan senators return to Lansing Thursday to act on a series of coronavirus-related orders.
This comes nearly a week after a state Supreme Court ruling curbed Governor Gretchen Whitmer's emergency powers to enact certain rules during the pandemic.
Senators are set to act on COVID-19 relief and what top Republicans say are a number of time sensitive issues.
Because of last Friday’s ruling, which President Trump called “a BIG win” — the governor now needs to work with the Republican-controlled legislature on certain COVID-19 measures, something she says she’s ready to do — but there’s noticeable tension between her and Michigan’s GOP.
“I’m ready to work with the legislature, but I’m never going to negotiate when it comes to do doing the right thing and protecting the people’s health," said Gov. Whitmer.
This week, Michigan’s Department of Health issued a series of mask requirements and limits to group gatherings, which Gov. Whitmer says are in effect through Oct. 30.
- State health department reinstates mask mandate, gathering limitations in most of Michigan
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These health orders are similar to her executive orders, struck down by the high court nearly a week ago.
Masks are to be worn indoors and outdoors with people from different households, in businesses, schools and athletic events.
The Michigan Senate will return Thursday to vote on coronavirus relief bills and send them to the House, which will reconvene next Tuesday, Oct. 13.
- Michigan Supreme Court rules Whitmer didn't have authority to issue COVID-19 orders after April 30
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The legislature hasn’t had to follow the governor’s mask mandates due to the separation of powers, Gov. Whitmer calling out Republican Senate Leader Mike Shirkey earlier this week.
“I think it is concerning that the top republican in Michigan government is an anti-masker and doesn’t want to encourage and require everyone across the state to mask up… within hours of the leader of his party, our president, getting admitted to Walter Reed for COVID-19," said Gov. Whitmer.
In a joint statement on the legislature’s return, Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield say in part:
"The exact legislative agenda has yet to be determined, but the senate and house are working together right now to review the governor's numerous executive orders and determine which issues require immediate attention. While the governor spends her time on the campaign trail and taking political jabs at legislative partners, we are putting together a smarter plan of action to provide certainty to michigan families and move this state forward.”
Meanwhile Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, who presides over session in the Senate, is urging Republican lawmakers to require masks inside the House and Senate chambers.
Gilchrist says he fears for his family’s safety when working with lawmakers who choose not to wear face coverings.