Michigan Senate: Lawmakers should know when governor leaves state

Bill would require the next in line of succession to notify the Legislature of the governor’s departure and return
The Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan.
The Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan.(Eric Fletcher/ WJRT)
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 4:56 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Senate Republicans have voted to require the lieutenant governor to make a “good-faith effort” to notify legislative leaders when the governor has left Michigan and he or she has assumed gubernatorial powers and duties.

The legislation appears destined for a veto from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if it advances.

Under the Michigan Constitution, the governor temporarily relinquishes power when departing the state. The bill would force the governor to inform the lieutenant governor, or whoever is next in the line of succession, before leaving and when returning.

That official would then have to try to give written notice to legislative leaders within 12 hours of taking over and include the expected length of the governor’s absence.

The bill comes after Republicans criticized a trip Whitmer took in March to visit her elderly father in Florida. She left on a Friday, flew in a private jet and returned to Lansing on the following Monday.

Whitmer has said the trip was “not a vacation” and she spent the weekend fulfilling his family duties of caring for her father while remaining engaged with her team about state business.

However, the trip happened near the start of a COVID-19 surge, which led the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to advise against out-of-state travel. Republicans also raised red flags about how Whitmer paid for the trip.

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