By state Rep. Ryan Berman of Commerce Township
During the COVID-19 outbreak in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has stuck to the notion that drastic times call for drastic measures.
But her aggressive implementation of this phrase goes against our state’s constitution, and the Legislature has been forced to act.
A recently filed lawsuit has sought to give the Legislature – and more importantly people throughout Michigan whose voices are represented through their elected officials – more of a say as key decisions are made in an ongoing public health emergency that is impacting lives and livelihoods.
This court case was brought to protect people and maintain the balance of power within our state government. It’s not about whether or not we agree with the governor’s ‘stay home’ orders, or past essential and non-essential business directives. At this late stage in the process, it’s about decisions not going through the normal legislative and deliberative process. It’s an issue of principle, not partisanship.
Entering May, the Legislature elected to not extend Michigan’s COVID-19 state of emergency. This decision was not made in an attempt to convey that the situation facing our state was over. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of cases in Oakland County alone show otherwise. The Legislature merely wishes to carry out its fundamental duty and be a part of the process in responding to this crisis. We have received calls and emails from thousands of people about assistance, response and preparedness, but they have been silenced by the governor’s unilateral action.
The governor has clung to the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, which proclaimed the ability to declare emergencies for local areas that had experienced unrest or disasters. But this proposal was crafted for regional issues, and subsequent legislation in 1976 established a certain timeframe for statewide emergencies to be in place before the Legislature would act to renew or end those powers.
The Legislature chose to not extend, but the governor opted to continue subverting our law-making process through a perpetual power grab. No one is rooting against the governor as this public health threat continues, and we are not hiding behind the state constitution in order to give a Democratic governor a hard time as she works to keep people and their families safe. We are in fact doing the opposite – showcasing the importance of our founding principles and standing up for them when they are not being adhered to.
This suit will continue to work its way through our state’s legal system in the coming weeks, but the precedent which has been set right now is extremely concerning. I will continue fighting for fair representation for people and families across Oakland County as this crisis continues and pivotal decisions are made.
State Rep. Ryan Berman, of Commerce Township, serves residents in the 39th District, which includes the city of Wixom, Commerce Township, a portion of West Bloomfield Township and the village of Wolverine Lake.
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