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Republicans don't extend State of Emergency, vote to sue Gov. Whitmer instead

Protesters gather at the State Capitol in Lansing to demonstrate against Michigan's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.
Protesters gather at the State Capitol in Lansing to demonstrate against Michigan's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.(WJRT)
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 2:54 PM EDT
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(4/30/2020) - Michigan lawmakers did not approve a State of Emergency for the coronavirus pandemic and instead authorized a lawsuit challenging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's authority.

Whitmer asked the Legislature to approve a 28-day extension of the emergency declaration, which expires Thursday night.

Instead, legislators voted on a package of bills Thursday that would change how the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic. They also voted to approve the lawsuit against Whitmer.

Members of the Republican-led House passed bills that would replace a series of orders issued by Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with state laws passed through the normal democratic process, according to Speaker Lee Chatfield.

He said Republicans support decisive action to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but Whitmer's "unchecked and undemocratic approach" is not the best way.

“The current status quo relies on one-size-fits-all edicts that unfairly punish millions of people across the state without giving them any recourse or voice in the process," Chatfield said. "The people deserve a better solution, and we can provide it.”

Republicans have criticized Whitmer's orders for placing too many restrictions on business and not allowing flexibility for areas with few coronavirus cases to reopen more businesses.

The Legislature met while a protest took place inside and outside the Capitol building in Lansing on Thursday.

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He said lawmakers are hearing from constituents who are out of work and asking for help.

Chatfield said one bill replaces nearly all of Whitmer's orders currently in effect without any loss of critical protections, including protections against price gouging and extensions of tax deadlines.

The bills include provisions for distance learning while schools are closed and a continued ban on large gatherings.

“The idea we want to put an abrupt end to the state of emergency and go back to normal immediately is a lazy political talking point,” said Chatfield. “We all agree Michigan must continue taking strong steps to fight the spread of this disease. But we can both protect the public health and protect the individual people who make up our great state."

The legislation already passed the Michigan Senate, so the bills will be forwarded to Whitmer. She has promised to veto any legislation that curtails emergency authority for herself or any future governor.

Whitmer has said that her emergency authority is not tied to State of Emergency extension, so he orders will continue based on other state laws.

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