LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday took action to approve the Unlock Michigan citizen initiative that would repeal the law used by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to issue emergency orders early on in the pandemic.
“The orders coming from the administration did nothing to address countless concerns brought forth by residents who were worried about their lives and livelihoods, and unfortunately gave off an arrogant, ‘because I said so’ attitude,” said Sen. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes. “This sentiment was only further displayed when our governor blatantly disregarded a ruling from our state’s highest court and continued issuing backdoor orders through her health department.”
Last year, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Whitmer acted unconstitutionally when issuing pandemic orders without input from the Legislature — the people’s voice in government and coequal branch. The 1945 law that was struck down allowed the governor to declare a state of emergency and keep it in place without input from the Legislature.
“Our founders created a government based on equal branches to avoid precisely what the governor did during the pandemic,” Outman said. “Her orders closed businesses, upended people’s lives and created a quagmire within the UIA that, to this day, still hasn’t been figured out. Our system was not designed to function this way. Lawmakers knew it, residents knew it, and the court affirmed it.”
For months, residents across the state voiced their displeasure with the governor’s unilateral and often confusing rules and asked for both clarity and her reasoning behind them. After being widely ignored by the governor’s administration, they took matters into their own hands and began an initiative to eliminate the law that allowed the governor to single-handedly make rules without input from the Legislature.
On Oct. 2, 2020, Unlock Michigan organizers submitted signatures that were collected in support of repealing the law used by the governor to issue executive orders over several months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of State Canvassers recently certified the Unlock Michigan petition, leaving the Legislature the option to either approve or deny the measure.
“I voted to codify this petition language into statute, which will prevent any future governor from abusing their authority the way Gov. Whitmer did during COVID-19,” Outman said. “I am proud to support this measure on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who stood up and made their voices heard.”