The once invisible boundary between Michigan and Ohio will soon become as noticeable as a neon sign.
The governor of Ohio – after seeking input from state legislators and business leaders about best practices that can be taken – announced a plan that will allow retail shops to reopen with safety measures beginning Tuesday, May 12. Salons, barbershops and restaurants with outside bars and patios can reopen beginning Friday, May 15. Dine-in restaurants can open May 21.
The very next day, Gov. Whitmer told the same job providers just a few miles away in Michigan that they must remain closed or restricted through May 28.
This is another example of why our governor’s approach of continuing to issue one-size-fits-all orders for the entire state doesn’t make sense. It’s no riskier for a hair salon or restaurant in Bedford Township to begin serving customers next week than it is for the same types of businesses just a few miles away, across the border in Toledo. But, it probably does make sense to plan a slower reopening for businesses in Detroit, where the overwhelming majority of Michigan COVID-19 cases have been located.
It’s also why my colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the governor to work collaboratively with the Legislature when making decisions about how our state continues to respond to the coronavirus.
At the beginning of this crisis we needed to act swiftly; it made sense to declare a state of emergency. Now, we need to act deliberatively. That’s what the Legislature does best. The House and Senate are made up of people who represent diverse areas of the state and can better understand when actions will have unintended negative consequences. Border districts, for example, have unique factors to consider, including preventing a disadvantage for Michigan businesses whose competition is operating under another state’s rules. Rules that could possibly drive out Michigan businesses.
Unfortunately, the governor continues to refuse to work with the Legislature to move Michigan forward. Under her interpretation of our laws, she alone decides when the broad powers given to her during a state of emergency – meant to be temporary – will end. Her decision to continue going it alone has forced the Legislature to defend its role as elected representatives of the people as part of the checks and balances of a democracy.
Over the last two months, my colleagues and I have heard countless concerns about many of the governor’s unilateral decisions – all made without input from the Legislature. Based on the feedback I’ve received, I truly believe a regional, safety-focused approach is our best option. Taking that path would allow each county to reopen at the pace that’s best for their residents.
There is a safe way to move Michigan forward and I am committed to being a part of that solution. It is a shame that we have to take the Governor to court to get a seat at the table.