News Story

Whitmer vetoes emergency powers bills

The eight bills vetoed would have placed guardrails on the Michigan governor’s use of emergency powers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week vetoed eight bills that would’ve put guardrails on a governor’s emergency powers.

A Mackinac Center review of Michigan law found that the state still had 30 emergency powers laws on the books. That doesn’t include the 1945 emergency powers law that was struck down by the Michigan Supreme Court in 2020.

The Detroit News reported that Whitmer, in a veto message to the Legislature, told lawmakers the bills would “limit the state's ability to protect the people we represent.”

The News report continued:

Whitmer said the legislation undermines Michigan's responsibility to put residents’ “safety and security first.”

“These bills do not rest on a careful, considered attempt to understand the needs of our departments and agencies, nor do they grapple with the real threats that sometimes necessitate swift action to keep Michiganders safe and to save lives,” the Democratic governor wrote Friday in a veto message to the Legislature.

Rep. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover, blasted Whitmer's veto as blocking “the most basic openness and accountability that Michigan citizens expect from their state government.”

Michael Van Beek, director of research for the Mackinac Center, found 30 emergency powers laws still on the books in Michigan.

He told CapCon that the governor’s veto of one of the bills, which would have put a 28-day limit on the health department’s ability to issue emergency orders, was not a surprise.

“I think it was very unlikely that she was going to clip her own wings,” Van Beek said. “She would have been admitting that that law, which she used from October 2020 to June 2021, was not a good one.”

The other bills involved more minor changes, Van Beek said. He said the vetoes indicate the other 22 bills modifying emergency powers wouldn’t be signed by Whitmer either. The Michigan Senate Republican caucus has a webpage listing the bills Whitmer has vetoed.

Despite the veto, the effort to pass the bills was a worthwhile effort to introduce the topic of limits on emergency powers, Van Beek said. Both chambers of the Michigan Legislature supported the bills.

“If we have a different governor, or Whitmer has a change of heart, the work has been done,” Van Beek said.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.