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Barrett votes to approve Unlock Michigan petition

LANSING, Mich. — On Thursday, Sen. Tom Barrett and the state Senate voted to approve the Unlock Michigan citizen-led petition to repeal the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945.

The petition drive was a response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer exceeding her executive powers during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, establishing policy for COVID-19 without input of the Legislature and acting unilaterally. The Senate vote came two days after the Board of State Canvassers certified the petition’s signatures.

“Last year obviously brought forth quite a few different challenges, one of which was the unilateral seizure of power by one person in this state government,” said Barrett, R-Charlotte. “No matter what challenges we face, no matter how hard the task is, it is not an appropriate excuse or substitute to say that one person can continuously govern and have the force of law to continue to bypass the other branches government.”

The passage of this measure comes after Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled Whitmer acted unconstitutionally when she issued pandemic orders without input from the Legislature. In 2020, Barrett sponsored Senate Bill 857, which would have repealed PA 302 of 1945. The bill was vetoed by the governor.

“This initiative represents the people’s override of the governor and the unlimited power that she has tried to claim during the pandemic, and I am proud of the people of the state of Michigan for bringing this forward,” Barrett said.

The Michigan House of Representatives still needs to approve the initiative with a majority vote for PA 302 of 1945 to be repealed. Once approved by both chambers, the governor has no authority to veto or otherwise block the petition.