Republican legislators have introduced bills that seek to curb the emergency powers of the governor, including limiting the number of days for which a governor can declare a state of emergency.
State Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance) and state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) both submitted legislation to the House and the Senate, respectively, that calls for reduced emergency powers for the governor. The changes include reducing the number of days for which the governor can declare an emergency from 28 to 14, prohibiting the banning of firearm and ammunition sales, and allowing for a civil fine rather than a criminal penalty for violating an emergency order.
“The governor is playing with people’s constitutional rights,” Sheppard said in a statement. “She has stripped residents of their property rights by prohibiting travel from one residence to another. In addition, the governor has interfered with commerce by prohibiting Michiganians from purchasing certain goods.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has received backlash after her recently extended “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order also banned inter-residence travel and the sale of goods like gardening supplies in large stores. The backlash included a protest called “Operation Gridlock” on Wednesday that drew thousands of people to Lansing to criticize Whitmer’s lockdown order.
“The people of Michigan deserve to have a seat at the table whenever major decisions are being made, and the Legislature is the voice of the people,” Sheppard said. “We must study options like these to restore checks and balances within state government and make the Legislature’s role during states of emergency abundantly clear.”
The bills were referred to the House Government Operations Committee, which Sheppard chairs, in the House of Representatives. The similar bills introduced in the Senate were referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.
Michigan currently has more than 30,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The death toll in the state is 2,227.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]