Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made headlines earlier this year by seizing almost dictatorial-level power in the face of the coronavirus.
Whitmer has been empowered by the state’s 1945 Emergency Powers of Governor Act, which allows the governor almost unlimited power in times of emergency.
Michigan residents are now nearly six months into Whitmer’s new regime, and it’s no longer just conservative Republicans who are pushing back.
“Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, the top Democrat in Michigan’s third largest county, says he supports repealing the 1945 law that gives Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the ability to declare a state of emergency and keep the declaration in place without input from the GOP-controlled Legislature,” The Detroit News reported Wednesday.
“No one person should have endless authority and ability to bypass another branch of government,” he said. “I can’t believe there isn’t more of an outcry.”
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The Emergency Powers of Governor Act states: “(1) During times of great public crisis … either upon application of the mayor of a city, sheriff of a county, or the commissioner of the Michigan state police or upon his or her own volition, the governor may proclaim a state of emergency and designate the area involved. After making the proclamation or declaration, the governor may promulgate reasonable orders, rules, and regulations as he or she considers necessary to protect and property or to bring the emergency situation within the affected area under control.”
It adds: “(2) The orders, rules, and regulations promulgated under subsection (1) … shall cease to be in effect upon declaration by the governor that the emergency no longer exists.”
In other words, Michigan’s governor may, unilaterally and of her own initiative, implement “orders, rules, and regulations” as she sees fit, and may keep those “orders, rules, and regulations” in effect as long as she so chooses.
That’s crazy. No one person should have that much power, indefinitely, with no legislative oversight.
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There is a good reason the federal government is based on a system of checks, balances and separation of powers. It’s the same reason every single U.S. state has both a governor and a legislature: No one individual should be able to unilaterally exert that much control over his or her fellow Americans.
Unlock Michigan, a coalition of Michiganders who oppose Whitmer’s power grab, “is seeking to collect 340,047 valid petition signatures to put its initiated legislative proposal to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act before the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature, which has challenged the emergency powers of Whitmer in court,” according to The Detroit News.
“If Unlock Michigan collects enough valid signatures, the Legislature could enact the repeal without Whitmer being able to veto the proposal,” the outlet added.
Whitmer — who has issued over 100 executive decrees since the start of the pandemic, WDIV-TV reported in July — expressed disdain at the group’s attempts to curb her power.
“Any attempt to strip away the powers of the governor during this crisis is irresponsible, dangerous and foolish,” she said.
But Hackel — who backs Unlock Michigan’s efforts but does not sign petitions as a general rule — believes it’s past time to end the statewide state of emergency. He wants the governor and the legislature to work together to aid the state’s hardest hit communities.
Michigan, which has a population of almost 10 million, had reported about 115,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 6,791 deaths as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins data.
“We’ve flattened the curve. There is no surge in the hospitals,” Hackel explained.
Individual counties in Michigan have begun lifting their own states of emergency. Nevertheless, just this week, Whitmer extended the statewide emergency declaration through Oct. 1, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The state of emergency allows Whitmer to continue imposing restrictions — such as mask mandates and limited restaurant capacity — on the people and businesses in her state.
It’s terrifying that the Emergency Powers of Governor Act allows Whitmer to continue do anything she wants, for as long as she wants.
Hopefully, Unlock Michigan’s efforts are successful, and the legislature will be able to repeal the law.
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