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Whitmer Says She Would Use Emergency Law To Impose Her Non-Emergency Policies

Abuse fears are why Supreme Court took away open-ended 1945 emergency law powers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently said she would use an emergency powers law that was created in 1945 to deal with riots to halt enforcement of a law that prohibits schools from passing students on to fourth grade who have not learned how to read. She has previously expressed her opposition to the law banning social promotion.

“I know it’s creating a lot of anxiety. If I had the 1945 emergency powers, I would unilaterally keep that from happening,” Whitmer said according to MIRS News.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled last year that the Emergency Powers of Governor Act, passed in 1945, was unconstitutional because it placed no limit on how long a governor could govern unilaterally after declaring a state of emergency. A later emergency powers law, adopted in 1976, limits the governor’s emergency powers to 28 days, unless the Legislature grants an extension for another 28 days.

Until the COVID pandemic in 2020, the 1945 law was invoked 13 times in response to seven different emergencies, according to research by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

It was invoked after riots in the 1960s and 1970s, and in response to high mercury levels in waters near St. Clair in 1970.

Another 50 years passed before the 1945 law was again invoked, this time by Whitmer in March of 2020.

“The governor’s willingness to use the EPGA for this purpose shows that the Michigan Supreme Court was right to be concerned by the potential abuse of power,” said Michael Van Beek, director of research at the Mackinac Center. “Gov. Whitmer’s apparent disregard for the rule of law and for the democratic process is shocking.”

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.