The Michigan legislature will meet in a special session on Friday to create an oversight committee to examine how Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has responded to the coronavirus pandemic and possibly take up measures to limit some of her powers.
“The House & Senate will convene tomorrow to create a special oversight committee on COVID-19 to examine our government’s response,” Republican Speaker of the Michigan House Lee Chatfield tweeted Thursday.
“Michigan needs to handle this pandemic seriously yet properly. It’s what the people deserve, and we will see that it happens.”
The first bill would repeal the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which gives the governor power to declare a state of emergency without input from the legislature.
The second bill would amend the Emergency Management Act of 1976 and reduce the number of days for a governor to unilaterally declare a state of emergency from 28 days to 14.
When introducing the Senate bill last week, Sen. Tom Barrett said, “The governor is no longer acting in a rational way.”
A spokeswoman for Whitmer said the governor will veto the legislation if it gets to her desk.
“Governor Whitmer will not sign a bill that would diminish her authority to protect citizens of this state from a deadly disease that has already killed thousands of people in Michigan,” spokeswoman Tiffany Brown told MLive.
Whitmer confirmed that decision and called the move a “blatant power grab.”
“Those blatant power grabs are bad in good times and dangerous in times of crisis,” she told the Detroit Free Press.
“We have really bent over backwards to make sure that we’re sharing information with them. And I think it’s worked pretty well. It’s not perfect and we don’t agree on everything to be sure.”
Whitmer added, “But we have gone out of our way to try to keep them included so that they knew what and why the actions that I was taking were necessary.”
Democrats in the legislature are also not happy that their Republican colleagues are making them come to the capitol while they are supposed to be practicing social distancing.
“To make a pandemic a political ploy is just obnoxious,” House Minority Leader Christine Greig said. “It’s another political stunt that’s not putting the health of the state as a top priority.”
Outdoor activities like golf and boating are also permitted to resume.