Gov. Whitmer officially stripped of emergency powers

Matthew Donnellon
Image via Independent

Last year as the pandemic was infiltrating America several governors took prudent measures to protect their citizens by enacting unpopular measures to force social distancing on Michiganders.

Gov. Whitmer took several decisive actions in the spring of 2020 to delay infection and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

It started in March 2020 when she enacted an Executive Order 2020-4 effectively shutting the state down, “Temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.”

It was the beginning of the cavalcade of orders that would follow, including mask mandates, travel restrictions, and cancelling events.

At the time, Gov. Whitmer acted under the authority given to her by the Emergency Management Act of 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which gave her the authority to take total control during emergencies. Instead of waiting for actions to work their way through a bureaucracy. It allows for decisive actions and can save lives.

According to the Michigan Constitution, “The Emergency Management Act vests the governor with broad powers and duties to “cop[e] with dangers to this state or the people of this state presented by a disaster or emergency,” which the governor may implement through “executive orders, proclamations, and directives having the force and effect of law.”

Additionally, “the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, provides that, after declaring a state of emergency, “the governor may promulgate reasonable orders, rules, and regulations as he or she considers necessary to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation within the affected area under control.”

However, Gov. Whitmer no longer has those powers as the Michigan Legislature has repealed those laws. The New York Post reports that the Michigan House voted along party lines 60-48 to get rid of the law after the Senate ditched the law last week.

The most interesting thing about the situation is not the vote. It’s how the vote went about. It left Democrats no way to counter, “Because the law came to the state legislature by a petition drive, under Michigan law it is not subject to a veto from Whitmer and will go into effect 90 days after the legislative session.”

The petition came from a citizen group called Unlock Michigan. The group amassed over 540,000 signatures last year forcing the issue in front of the Senate.

There are a number of concerns with this event. Namely, it is a way to subvert the democratic process. It handcuffs the opposition and removes any sort of check and balance.

It is also a public health issue.

An opposing group called Keep Michigan Safe said in a statement, “Today, House Republicans voted to eradicate an important tool for elected leaders trying to save lives and stop the spread of deadly, infectious diseases like COVID-19, Legionnaire’s, tuberculosis and anthrax.”

It hamstrings any future government should another situation arise.

During the next pandemic, Michigan will not have a way to stop it from spreading.

There are times when decisive action needs to be made. The powers come from 1945, when the world was at war.

The whole debacle is a short sighted attempt to curry favor with the half of the population that does not take the pandemic seriously.

Now it will that much harder to stop the spread should another wave come.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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