State of emergency scheduled to end at midnight
State Rep. Beau LaFave, of Iron Mountain, today voted for a plan 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.
LaFave said the plan puts many of the virus-related executive orders into state law, ensuring they continue to exist after the state of emergency ends at the end of the day.
“I don’t see how the governor expects the Legislature to give her another month or more of blanket authority when there are so many problems and unanswered questions out there already,” LaFave said. “When the COVID-19 crisis began, Michigan families did their part in adhering to the stay-at-home order and listening to the advice of medical professionals to mitigate the spread of the virus. Even at the apex of the outbreak, U.P. hospitals were at no more than 1/6th capacity. Data shows the case curve flattened, and that it’s time we get back to work – safely – while continuing certain COVID-19 protections that are still needed moving forward. We cannot continue this shutdown forever, nor can we continue to have zero checks and balances in state government.
“We have tens of thousands of Upper Peninsula residents currently out of work and coping with the challenges of unemployment. They’re frustrated they cannot provide for their families, and they’re sick and tired of the governor holding them to the same restrictions as the city of Detroit. These people deserve answers from the governor and her administration and they’re not getting them. All they are getting is a governor who is asking for extensions on restrictions that keep them in unemployment despite our state’s unemployment system being a total failure. The Legislature continues to hound the governor for more information on COVID-19 to help understand some of the actions she has taken or is recommending, but she fails to follow through on sharing it. This leaves us only to believe her restrictions are arbitrary. Extending the governor’s unilateral powers just to extend them was not what I was sent to Lansing to do. The governor needs to demonstrate more accountability and transparency, and partner with the Legislature to continue protecting public health while getting our economy back on track.”
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 Legislature took action to put some of the governor’s previous orders into state law with specific expiration dates. This includes:
• Protections for workers that prevent employers from taking disciplinary action against any employee who elects to stay home from work because of COVID-19.
• Procedures allowing school districts, parents and students to continue the learning process while school buildings remain closed.
• Measures to prevent price gouging.
• Expanded unemployment benefits and eligibility requirements.
• Suspending all foreclosure and eviction proceedings until June 30.
• Restrictions on large public gatherings.
• Standards for businesses and entities where people are working on site, such as following CDC social distancing guidelines, using enhanced cleaning provisions, providing personal protective equipment for employees, avoiding the sharing of tools and equipment when possible, and promoting remote work.
• Limiting visitors at health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities and juvenile justice facilities, conducting health screenings for necessary visitors and providing phone or video chat visitation options.
“The longer the state remains shut down, Michiganders are going to get a big wake-up call when it comes to balancing the budget,” LaFave said. “With no tax revenue coming in, how are we supposed to pay for our first responders, our teachers, our roads, our local health departments, and the unemployment insurance of those out of work? We need to start reopening the state while protecting public health at the same time. The governor’s one-size-fits-all approach is not working for rural Michigan. The actions taken in the Legislature today do not require those who wish to stay home to leave their homes. If they are concerned about their health or have an increased risk to contract COVID-19, I encourage them to stay home. But for the rest of Michigan residents who are ready to get back to work, let’s continue to work together in reopening the state in a safe and responsible way.”
The House vote to approve Senate Bill 858 effectively ends Michigan’s state of emergency at midnight Friday morning. LaFave said he believes the governor will be on incredibly shaky legal ground if she decides to extend the order without the consent of the Legislature.
“Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the residents of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties had three people representing their voices in state government – the governor, state Sen. Ed McBroom and myself,” LaFave said. “Since the governor is unwilling to work with the Legislature and only interested in taking unilateral action, she has left both Sen. McBroom and I in the dark – leaving our U.P. communities without the representation they deserve. The lack of transparency and accountability the governor is promoting is a disgrace, and we’re not going to take it anymore. While we want to be a partner with the governor, a partnership requires cooperation from both sides. The governor has made it very clear she wants no checks and balances during this time.”