State Rep. Julie Calley this week voted for a plan intended to restore the normal balance of powers between the branches of state government and end the broad, unchecked control given to the governor during a state of emergency.
Calley, of Portland, said the Legislature opted not to take action to extend the emergency declaration, which expired at the end of the day Thursday – instead voting on a plan that would have put several of the virus-related executive orders into state law to ensure reasonable protections would continue to exist.
However, the governor has since acted on her own to extend the state of emergency, relying on conflicting portions of state law. Her executive orders will likely continue to be in place until a court says otherwise.
Calley said she and other members of the Legislature have heard countless concerns about many of the governor’s unilateral decisions in the past month – all made without input from the Legislature, the elected representatives of the people.
“In addition to public health, this virus has created new crises,” Calley said. “My office is consumed with calls from people who are still waiting for their unemployment benefits after five weeks. They are rightfully frantic or furious. Their stories are heartbreaking. Every day, I hear from more and more people who need medical treatment but can’t get it. Routine procedures and tests have been delayed too long, and the situation is becoming dire.
“Michiganders deserve a seat at the table when decisions are made that dramatically affect their health and livelihoods – representation that comes through the Legislature,” Calley continued. “Our approach to this lengthy public health challenge should include the checks and balances brought about through our constitutional republic.”
To ensure measures remain in place to protect public health and help families who have been hurt by the economic impact of the virus, the House plan would have put some of the governor’s previous orders into state law with specific expiration dates. This included preventing employers from taking disciplinary action against any employee who elects to stay home from work because of COVID-19, expanded unemployment benefits and eligibility requirements, measures to prevent price gouging, and many others.
The stay-at-home order and other orders prohibiting preventative medical procedures, dental work and veterinary services would have been allowed to expire under the House plan.
“We can make decisions based on data and scientific metrics, and take thoughtful, measured steps forward to a new normal,” Calley said. “While the virus is a threat everywhere, we do have different risk factors depending upon location. We need to start lifting restrictions when possible, where possible.”
The House also approved a resolution that will allow the Legislature to take legal action against the governor for certain actions she may take in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including extending the emergency declaration beyond the date set by the Legislature.
“The governor has said that we’re all in this together – and I agree,” Calley said. “The Legislature has offered our partnership to address this lengthy public health crisis. I’m hopeful she will accept it.”