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Rep. Bollin sponsors plan to add transparency, accountability when emergency powers are exercised
RELEASE|June 16, 2022
Contact: Ann Bollin

State Rep. Ann Bollin is helping sponsor a comprehensive plan to keep state government accountable to Michigan citizens when emergency powers are exercised.

Various state laws provide the governor and state department heads increased authority to address urgent situations — often when the health or safety of residents is at risk. These emergency powers were used more broadly than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bollin said the wide-ranging, 31-bill package makes carefully considered changes to state law to add transparency and ensure the people of Michigan are represented in the decisions being made at the state level. The House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the plan Wednesday.

“During the pandemic, the people of Michigan saw gross overreach from one individual wielding unilateral power over the state,” said Bollin, of Brighton Township. “The Legislature had to file a lawsuit to make sure the voices of the people all throughout our state were considered. The Supreme Court ruled against the governor’s unilateral overreach and affirmed the Legislature’s role as the people’s voice in decisions that are made at the state level.”

Part of the plan ends the application of certain administrative authorities after 28 days, at which point the Michigan Legislature would decide whether circumstances warrant the extension of the emergency powers. The changes are modeled after one of the state’s most prominent emergency powers laws, the Emergency Management Act, which allows the governor to declare a state of emergency or disaster and issue orders for a period of 28 days, after which the Legislature may approve an extension.

“There are limited circumstances where it is necessary to grant additional authority to state agencies during emergencies, but never should that authority come at the expense of transparency and accountability to the public,” Bollin said. “These reforms will ensure emergency powers are exercised only with good reason and in a responsible manner.”

To ensure legislators are aware of the use of emergency authority, other bills would simply require the executive branch to notify the Legislature in a timely manner — typically 24 hours — after some powers are exercised.

“More than two years after COVID-19 reached Michigan, we have an opportunity to review the numerous laws and executive orders used during the pandemic and improve how the state will operate in future emergencies,” Bollin said.

The measures Bollin introduced, House Bills 6186 and 6190, are part of a handful of bills that repeal unnecessary or outdated emergency powers, some of which have seldom or never been used. Other statutes to be repealed are redundant, granting emergency authority also provided in the Administrative Procedures Act or elsewhere in Michigan law.

The bipartisan plan, contained in House Bills 6184-6214, remains before the House Oversight Committee for further consideration.

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