Rep. Wozniak: Legislature’s role in emergency protects balanced government, respects voice of the people

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Legislator reacts to governor’s emergency extension without legislative approval

State Rep. Douglas Wozniak, of Shelby Township, on Thursday voted for a measure to restore the balance of powers between the branches of state government and end the broad, unchecked control given to the governor during the state of emergency.

An existing state of emergency order had been set to expire on April 30. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opted to extend the emergency for another 28 days, which Wozniak criticized as a unilateral, unacceptable show of authority that once again circumvents the Legislature.

“The Legislature worked to reach an agreement on ensuing emergency declarations, but the governor opted to go around the Legislature,” Wozniak said. “This decision moves elected representatives away from the table and, in the process, the voice those representatives are serving as. People are struggling and have legitimate concerns about the administration’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. This broad, unilateral action undercuts those people and their concerns.”

Wozniak also voted on Thursday to approve a plan ensuring measures protecting public health and families who have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak remain in place.

Senate Bill 858 codifies several orders recently issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer which had specific expiration dates, including:

• 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.

“This was a good-faith effort to take what the governor had done and put it directly into law to protect lives and livelihoods,” Wozniak said. “Working with the Legislature as we move forward in this public health emergency will ensure Michigan comes out healthy and strong.”