Michigan Lawmakers Split With Governor Over Extending Emergency

Many states’ Republican and Democratic parties have been in lockstep responding to the coronavirus pandemic, but Michigan is split along party lines over how broad the governor’s powers should be to shut down the state’s economy.

The Republican-controlled state Senate and state House on Tuesday approved a resolution to extend Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) emergency declaration through the end of April.The declaration was to expire Tuesday, and last week Whitmer wrote a letter to lawmakers requesting a 70-day extension. The emergency declaration gives Whitmer the authority to issue specific orders, such as a shelter-in-place order limiting social interaction and halting large sectors of economic activity.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) said an extension through June is too long and could mean longer-than-necessary shelter-in-place orders that slow the state’s economy. If a further extension is needed, they said, the Legislature can consider that at a later date.

Whitmer hinted this week that she will extend the state’s shelter-in-place order, which lasts through April 13. She said an extension of the emergency declaration only through April could mean the General Assembly may have to reconvene in Lansing to deal with another extension “at the apex” of the state’s response to the virus.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com

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