Michigan GOP lawmakers sue governor for extending state of emergency

Michigan GOP lawmakers sue governor for extending state of emergency
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Republicans filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Wednesday after she extended Michigan’s state of emergency.

State GOP lawmakers accused Whitmer of abusing her power by extending the order, a move they said only the state legislature could authorize.

“The Legislature did not approve an extension of the state emergency declaration and as such we expected the declaration to end. Instead, we saw the governor ignore the law, unilaterally extend the emergency, and write new executive orders," said state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R).

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"If left unchecked, the governor could extend her authority indefinitely," he added. "Michigan citizens cannot wait that long for a path forward to regain their lives and their livelihoods."

Michigan’s state of emergency runs through May 28. It was previously slated to expire May 1. Whitmer’s stay-at-home order expires May 15.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Michigan Court of Claims and requests a “speedy hearing,” argues that Whitmer’s actions violated constitutional requirements for “separation of powers among co-equal branches of government” and seeks a declaratory ruling that her emergency orders were unlawful.

“We all know strong action is required to combat COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. But the one-size-fits-all actions the governor has taken simply haven’t been good enough,” added state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R). “The people we represent need a better plan, and we want to work with the governor to help her do better.”

Democrats panned the lawsuit.

“The legislative Republicans are suing Governor Whitmer. Meanwhile, Democrats are focused on developing real solutions for Michigan workers and families that protect their safety, health, and rights,” tweeted state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D).

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Whitmer extended her emergency order Thursday, saying that while Republicans are eager for a more rapid reopening of the state’s economy, data now shows that the coronavirus has abated enough to loosen some restrictions.

“While some members of the legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods yet,” she said in last week's announcement. “By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk.”

A Whitmer spokeswoman told The Detroit Free Press on Wednesday that the GOP lawsuit amounts to a “partisan game that won't distract the governor.”

Whitmer’s response to the coronavirus, which has infected more than 44,000 people in Michigan, has come under national scrutiny as waves of protesters descend on Lansing to demand the state be reopened more quickly.