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Legislature Could Repeal ’45 Emergency Powers Without Gov’s Sig Under Proposal

June 30, 2020

A ballot committee calling itself Unlock Michigan is seeking to send a proposal to repeal a disputed law giving the Governor emergency powers to the Legislature for a vote before the end of the year.

Unlock Michigan is planning to offer a one-sentence initiative repealing the 1945 emergency powers law, spokesperson Fred Wszolek said, who is a partner at StrategyWorks.

The law in question is the one that doesn’t require legislative approval for a Governor to extend a previously declared state of emergency.

And it’s the law that’s been challenged by legislative Republicans in their suit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmerfor the COVID-related executive orders she’s issued under that law and a 1976 law that does require legislative approval after 28 days.

“You could, as a newly elected Governor in your very first day, come up with some pretext to declare an emergency and just extend it for four years,” he said.

Wszolek didn’t reveal who was behind or part of the effort to repeal the 1945 emergency powers law besides describing it as a “broad grassroots coalition.” He said there would be more to come as the group awaits getting its language okayed by the state Bureau of Elections.

Unlock Michigan was formed as a committee on June 1. Its listed address is the same as the law offices for GOP elections attorney Eric Doster.

The goal is to get the initiated legislation – which takes 340,047 valid signatures — to the GOP-led Legislature for its approval so it can become law without Whitmer’s signature, which Wszolek said he’s hoping will happen after the 2020 election but before the end of the calendar year.

With the deadline already past to get proposals to the state in time for a chance to get on the ballot in 2020, Unlock Michigan has no intention of going to the voters, Wszolek said.

Wszolek was asked about the political support for this measure, given recent data has shown Michigan’s COVID-19 cases are down while other states are up. He said, “We still have a problem where there aren’t . . . sorts of checks and balances that you would expect that would apply to any governor.”

Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) voiced support for the idea of repealing Whitmer’s emergency powers via ballot proposal.

Asked if Shirkey is the driving force behind this effort, Wszolek said, “No, there’s literally tens of thousands of people who are the driving force behind this.”

Wszolek was asked if there will be more than just Republicans who will end up backing the effort. He said, “I hope so,” but added, “we’re in a partisan time where people, you know, choose sides.”

The signature-gathering is expected to be done mostly by volunteers but there could be some paid signature-gatherers, he said.

Asked where the group would get its financial support, Wszolek said, “I think there are plenty of employers in this state who know that they could not survive another shutdown, and none of their employees would keep their jobs either . . . people should invest in fixing this obvious mistake left over from 1945.”

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