OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The Michigan legislature has ended a law that gave Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer unprecedented power during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision came after the Michigan Supreme Court decided that the powers granted to the governor were unconstitutional.
The Detroit Free Press reported:
A 76-year-old Michigan law crafted in the wake of Detroit race riots and used more recently to combat a generational health crisis is officially dead.
The Republican-controlled state House on Wednesday voted 60-48 largely along party lines in support of initiative petition language that repeals the Emergency Powers Act of 1945. The vote came one week after the state Senate also approved the initiative.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used the law to issue sweeping health and safety restrictions in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, moves that eventually garnered pushback from Republicans and other opponents.
“Hundreds of thousands of our families, friends, and neighbors changed Michigan forever when they decided they had enough and stood up to make a difference,” Republican Speaker Jason Wentworth said.
“They deserve a state government that is willing to do the same. They’ve earned that much. That’s why we had their back today and put this petition into law,” he said.
Democrats were against the repeal of the law saying that the law is needed and that the voters should be asked as a question on the ballot.
The law will take effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends because the House voted for it to take effect immediately but the Senate did not.
The House voted on Wednesday with a vote of 60-48 and the Senate approved it on July 15 with a vote of 20-15.
“Our Unlock Michigan citizen army collected over 540,000 signatures in just 80 days. Now, 292 days later, we’ll complete our mission with a final vote in the Legislature to end Gov. Whitmer’s rule by decree,” Unlock Michigan petition drive Fred Wszolek said.
“Next we’ll turn our attention to the public health law Whitmer abused to destroy lives, businesses, and futures. Don’t bet against our success there either.”
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in June that the Board of State Canvassers has to certify an initiative to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act.
The Free Press report added:
That means that once the board acts on the court’s order, the Republican-controlled Legislature can repeal the law with majority votes in each chamber, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be unable to veto the measure.
The order gave no breakdown on what position each justice took on the question, but there was no dissent accompanying the order, suggesting the decision was unanimous…
Whitmer used the 1945 law extensively to issue emergency orders related to the coronavirus pandemic until Oct. 2, when the Michigan Supreme Court struck down the law as an unconstitutional ceding of legislative power to the executive branch of government.
Although the law is no longer in effect, Democrats want to keep it on the books, apparently in the hope that the Michigan Supreme Court might reverse the October decision. The makeup of the court has shifted since then, from a 4-3 majority for Republican nominees to a 4-3 majority for Democratic nominees.
“The court has it exactly right — the Board of State Canvassers had a clear legal duty to certify what was obvious, that we had collected far more signatures than required,” Unlock Michigan spokesman Fred Wszolek said. Unlock Michigan was the group the sponsored the petition drive.
“We urge the Michigan House and Senate to act promptly to finally strike this awful law from the books forever,” he said.
The Emergency Powers of Governor Act gave Gov. Whitmer near dictator-like powers and used them in that way. But predictably, Democrats are furious about the decision of the court.
“The Michigan Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for illegal conduct including forgeries, leaving petitions unattended, circulators lying about their activities, and more if this decision stands,” Keep Michigan Safe attorney Mark Brewer said.
“Rather than allowing the board to investigate and holding petition gathering efforts accountable, this decision will unleash rampant illegalities and criminal misconduct in future ballot initiatives and embolden even more brazen illegal actions in the years ahead,” he said.