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State canvassers approve effort to kill emergency powers law

Board of State Canvassers followed through on court-ordered approval after second ruling last week
An "Unlock Michigan" sign is seen in Dickinson County, July 2020.
An "Unlock Michigan" sign is seen in Dickinson County, July 2020.(WLUC)
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 12:40 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Forced by a court order, the Board of State Canvassers has certified a petition drive to repeal a Michigan law that was used to set major restrictions during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Board of State Canvassers certified the effort with a 3-0 vote Tuesday after deadlocking 2-2 along partisan lines in April. The two Democrat members of the board voted against certifying the petitions to request an investigation into how they were circulated.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in June and reaffirmed last week that the Board of State Canvassers has no authority to investigate signature collection practices. The panel only can decide whether a sufficient number of signatures were turned in.

Tuesday’s decision means the Republican-controlled Legislature can kill the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945 without any threat of veto by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Lawmakers could also put it on the 2022 statewide ballot for voters to decide.

Action in the Capitol appears to be the likely step.

A group called Unlock Michigan met the 340,000-signature requirement by turning in over 460,000 valid signatures on Oct. 2, 2020. That same day, the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated the law with a ruling that says it improperly delegates legislative authority to the executive branch of government.

The law remains on the books and critics are concerned a future Supreme Court panel could reverse the Oct. 2 ruling to reinstate the law.

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature approved a bill in 2020 to abolish the law entirely, but Whitmer vetoed it in December.

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