Michigan Governor’s Coronavirus Power Grab Thwarted For Now

FILE — In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in Clawson, Mich. Whitmer has ordered a review of Michigan auto insurers’ use of non-driving factors to set premiums and their pricing of policies that coordinate medical coverage with drivers’ health insurance. The Democrat’s move Wednesday comes as Republican lawmakers prepare to soon unveil legislation designed to reduce what on average are the country’s highest car insurance rates. Whitmer says the state must take a “hard look” at how insurers set rates to ensure their practices are lawful. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus power grab was temporarily thwarted Tuesday when the Republican-controlled state Legislature rejected her proposed 70-day extension of emergency powers.

Whitmer has issued dozens of decrees, including executive orders suspending duly enacted statutes.

Instead of giving the first-term Democrat governor carte blanche through mid-June, Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives passed Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s concurrent resolution extending emergency powers for an additional 23 days.

The limited extension is in keeping with the Cold War-era Emergency Management Act, which requires legislative approval for a governor to exercise emergency powers beyond 28 days.

Whitmer didn’t concede defeat during a conference call with reporters.

Instead, she kept the door open to circumventing legislators by issuing subsequent decrees under the authority of the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, the Detroit Free Press reported. Under the statue, enacted during the Second World War, legislative approval isn’t required for an extended state of emergency.


There were no audible nays when each house held voice votes on approving the Shirkey resolution. Yet, Democrats later complained to reporters that exercising the Legislature’s bounden duty to scrutinize Whitmer’s actions and serve as a check and balance on the executive branch was “unprecedented and legally questionable,” The Detroit News reported.

Of course, the response by Democrats is absurd. As Ingrid Jacques noted in a Detroit News column, “Just imagine if President Donald Trump would tell members of Congress they shouldn’t meet during a nationwide emergency, ultimately leaving his executive powers unchecked. All hell would break loose, right?”

Amazingly, most of the statements issued by Republican legislators were canned statements written by staff that failed to address the underlying issue. One of the exceptions was Representative Eric Leutheuser, whose constituency includes Hillsdale College.

“The Constitution provides balance through the separation of powers for good reason,” the statement quotes him as saying. “The Legislature is entrusted to hold state government accountable and provide input and proper oversight — and that’s exactly what we are doing here.”


Separately, a lawsuit challenging Whitmer’s suspension of an open-records law was filed, MLive reported. It alleges she has no authority under the Michigan Constitution to suspend a statute.

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