Senate OKs measures defending Legislature’s role in states of emergency, continuing critical COVID-19 protections

Barrett bill would put several COVID-19 executive orders into law

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Senate Bill 858 and Senate Resolution 114, extending safety protocols for businesses and public places and defending the Legislature’s role in states of emergency.

“What is happening throughout the state is heartbreaking,” said Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte. “We have a serious health and economic crisis, and our governor has proven herself incompetent to handle the situation responsibly and appropriately. She is acting recklessly, without regard for how her decisions are affecting the lives of millions of Michiganders.

“Our Constitution provides a critical separation of powers. The Legislature is the branch of government that reflects the voice of the people. The governor can no longer ignore that voice.”

Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4 on March 10 declaring a state of emergency across Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and she issued EO 2020-33 on April 1 to include a state of disaster related to the pandemic. On April 7, the Legislature adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 to extend the states of emergency and disaster through April 30.

The Senate sent the governor legislation to put several COVID-19 executive orders into law and extend those that need to continue to help extend efforts to fight the virus and deal with its impacts. Among the 28 orders included in SB 858, sponsored by Barrett, are those regarding expanded unemployment benefits (EO 2020-57), distance learning for schools (EO 2020-35), and liability protections for health care workers treating patients in innovative ways (EO 2020-39).

The bill does not include or extend the state of emergency declaration or the governor’s stay-at-home order (EO 2020-59).

SR 114 allows the body to challenge in court any executive actions taken by the governor after the Legislature’s state of emergency extension expires on May 1.

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