Whitmer finally stripped of emergency powers

Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature voted this week to end Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers which she invoked last year at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and which critics say she later clung to for months in abusive, authoritarian ways.

The Michigan House on Thursday voted 60-48 largely on party lines to repeal her powers after the GOP-controlled Senate voted to do so July 15.

Both chambers voted to approve the Unlock Michigan ballot initiative, which had garnered some 500,000 signatures, The Detroit News reported.

Whitmer was often criticized for using emergency authority to issue dozens of executive actions which Republicans and other critics of her administration often found unnecessary or authoritarian.

By the legislature approving the repeal, it means the issue will not go before voters during the next general election, as normally happens with such petitions. The repeal, instead, becomes effective 90 days after the end of the current legislative session, which will happen shortly into next year.

Either way, a 1945 law that Whitmer was operating under is essentially moot at this point after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in October.

“We’re grateful to the members of the House and Senate who stood with the people of Michigan, and we’re grateful for their help in repealing the misguided 1945 law, the Emergency Powers of Governor Act, that caused so much pain once and for all,” Fred Wszolek, a spokesman for Unlock Michigan, told The Detroit News.

In addition to all Republican lawmakers, four Democrats joined in the repeal effort: Rep. Tim Sneller of Burton, Rep. Karen Whitsett of Detroit, Rep. Sara Cambensy of Marquette, and Rep. Richard Steenland of Roseville, the paper reported.

In a statement Wednesday, House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, said that there was too much hardship faced by Michigan residents during the pandemic as a result of decisions made by political leaders at the state and local levels, which led residents to determine “they had enough” as they “stood up to make a difference.”

“They took strong action to protect their families, their children’s education and their ability to make ends meet, and we can never thank them enough,” Wentworth added in a statement.

“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.

“Yesterday was a great day for Michigan, and yesterday was anything but partisan politics,” state Rep. Lisa McClain told “Fox & Friends First” on Friday. “It was the voice of the people saying enough is enough.”

House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township, ripped the vote and the petition as “political theater.”

“What we know was this was put on the board — unlike any bill that would have helped Michiganders — this was put on the board in order to make a political point,” Lasinski said.

Throughout the pandemic, however, Whitmer faced constant pushback and demonstrations at the state capital in Lansing in which some protesters showed up armed.

Unlock Michigan organizers said they are next planning to target a public health ordinance Whitmer also relied on to issue her lockdown orders.

“Next, we’ll turn our attention to the public health law Whitmer abused to destroy lives, businesses, and futures,” Wszolek told The Detroit News, referring to an effort to put a 28-day limit on public health orders issued during pandemics.

“Don’t bet against our success there, either,” he added.

Jon Dougherty

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