Unlock Michigan on Friday turned in more than half a million signatures on a petition to limit the governor’s emergency powers by repealing a 1945 law that allows her to continue declaring a state of emergency without legislative approval.
The ongoing state of emergency gave Whitmer unilateral orders to instate business closures or restriction of movement of Michiganders during the pandemic.
About 100 people came to show their support as the signatures were turned in. Many were not wearing masks, even as the POTUS is quarantined with COVID-19.
There are two laws governing how states of emergency are used in Michigan. One, from 1976, allows the governor to declare a 28-day state of emergency and then the legislature decides whether it’s extended. But that law didn’t repeal an older one from 1945, which doesn’t require legislative involvement and lets the governor declare ongoing states of emergency.
Unlock Michigan would do away with the 1945 law, meaning that Whitmer would need approval from the Republican-controlled state legislature to continue the state of emergency that gives her unilateral power. The Michigan GOP legislature backs the petition.
If the Board of State Canvassers finds the group has collected enough valid signatures, it goes to the legislature, which can approve the petition and make it law without the governor’s involvement. If the legislature doesn’t approve it, it could end up on the ballot as a proposal.
Meanwhile, State Attorney General Dana Nessel is investigating Unlock Michigan for reports it gathered signatures unlawfully, with video proof of petition circulators gathering signatures of those not present, and a video of a petition trainer giving advice on unlawful tactics.
At the gathering on Friday, three medical professionals in scrubs and masks watched .
“We want to simply point out that thousands and thousands of Michiganders would have lost their lives if not for the swift action that Governor Whitmer took in the spring. And I am concerned that if her ability to do her job is taken away by this ballot initiative, that we’re gonna see a huge spike,” said one. “Because if you look at these protesters, none of them are wearing masks. None of them are social distancing. And unfortunately, that’s what we’re gonna see more of if the protesters get what they want.”