LANSING, Mich. — From protests to petitions, even violent threats, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has faced immense blowback since the start of the pandemic for using executive power to issue orders to limit the spread of COVID-19. Michigan lawmakers will soon vote on repealing the decades-old law the governor used to put forth COVID-related restrictions early on.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted 3-0 Tuesday to certify the “Unlock Michigan” petition, a signature drive that seeks to repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor’s Act. The approval comes a month after the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the board to certify the petition signatures, after they were initially deadlocked on party lines.
The proposal now heads to the Republican-led Legislature for votes, where it’s likely they will vote repeal the law. The process will prevent a potential veto from Governor Whitmer.
“We’re going to get this done in the Legislature in the next couple weeks and we’ll start work on the public health code,” Unlock Michigan Spokesperson Fred Wszolek said, referring to another effort in the works.
Language for a new petition drive by the group was also approved by the state panel Tuesday.
Unlock Michigan will soon begin collecting signatures for a measure that would limit state health department epidemic orders to just 28 days in length. To extend any further would require legislative or local government approval. The health department has been issuing health orders after the Supreme Court ruled in October that Whitmer’s use of the law was unconstitutional.
Opponents fear the new petition would reduce the state’s ability to save lives during public health emergencies.
“Infection diseases don’t obey a calendar, they don’t obey county boundaries, they are statewide and they require statewide control and again they don’t stop at 28 days,” Mark Brewer said in opposition.