Michigan House authorizes lawsuit challenging governor's authority, orders


Michigan House authorizes Gretchen Whitmer lawsuit - Washington Times


LANSING, Mich. — The Republican-led Michigan House refused Thursday to extend the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration and voted to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s authority and actions to combat the pandemic.
The step came as hundreds of conservative activists returned to the Capitol to denounce her stay-at-home order.
Whitmer wanted lawmakers to extend her emergency declaration by 28 days. It expires late Thursday. But at the same time, she believes she has other powers to respond to the crisis and does not need a legislatively-approved extension except to ensure that health care workers would continue to have special legal protections. She has said the state of emergency will continue regardless.


The declaration is the foundation for Whitmer’s stay-at-home measure, which will remain in effect through May 15, and other directives aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. It has infected more than 41,000 Michigan residents and contributed to the deaths of 3,789. The virus and the steps taken to curb it, including the closure of nonessential businesses, have had a devastating effect on the economy.
The House voted 59-41, along party lines, for a bill that would temporarily codify many of Whitmer’s orders but not her stay-at-home directive. Businesses open to the public would have to adhere to social distancing and other mitigation measures until May 30.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Levering Republican, said the death toll is “terrible,” but other lives have been “negatively impacted unnecessarily because of how we have handled this pandemic. We believe we you can prioritize public health yet be reasonable in your approach to fighting COVID.”
Democrats opposed the legislation and the pending legal action.
“We cannot win this fight with our hands tied behind our backs,” said state Rep. Tyrone Carter, a Detroit Democrat who recovered from COVID-19. “We must ensure that our state can respond quickly and decisively to a situation that changes day by day. That means ensuring that our governor has the emergency powers necessary to lead us in this fight.”
Outside the Capitol, speakers took turns addressing a crowd on the lawn. Meanwhile, drivers leaned on their horns as they traveled past, a repeat of what occurred April 15 but not close to the thousands who participated in vehicles at that time, which paralyzed traffic for miles.
Protesters’ placards read, “Shut down the lockdown,” “No work no freedom,” and “Tyrants get the rope.” Some people wore the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag as a cape. Others chanted, “Lock her up,” in reference to the governor. Some wore President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats or carried signs supporting him.
“The virus is here. It’s going to be here. … It’s time to let people go back to work. That’s all there is to it,” said Joni George, of Flushing.
Some angry protesters - many without face coverings - entered the Capitol and demanded to be let into the House chamber, which was closed to the public to allow room for representatives and reporters to spread apart.
Whitmer, whom the public has supported in polling, on Wednesday rejected state Senate Republicans’ proposal for a pair of one-week extensions of the emergency in exchange for giving legislators a say in any future stay-at-home restrictions.
Republicans want her to allow elective medical and dental procedures again and certainty on the date she plans to reopen the economy on a regional basis. Meanwhile, the governor has allowed some businesses, such as lawn-care companies and greenhouses, to resume operating.
Whitmer said Wednesday that Republicans “are acting as though we’re in the midst of a political problem. … This is a public health crisis.” Commercial and residential construction will resume next week.
Meanwhile in Detroit, which has been one of the U.S. cities that has been hardest hit by the coronavirus, Mayor Mike Duggan continued to report a turnaround. He said hospitals in the city had 700 empty beds and another 100 in intensive care units.
“Having 700 empty beds is something we never saw in this city in a normal year,” said Duggan, a former hospital executive.

He said Whitmer needs to lift the lid on routine medical visits and treatments, a suspension that was ordered in March to stop the spread of the virus. Duggan said people with health problems, diabetes and sickle cell disease are overdue for help.

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