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Whitmer’s Reopening Steps Will Be Spelled Out Before April 30

April 22, 2020

Courtesy MIRS News

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER will spell out before month’s end what businesses can reopen when, and how, she pledged today during a roughly 20-minute conversation with the Small Business Association (SBAM) of Michigan.

The Governor said her administration is making “very thoughtful and hard decisions about how to re-engage” and they’ll know about it before her current emergency executive order expires April 30.

Small business owners have suffered during the past six weeks, Whitmer said but her reopening steps are designed to prevent a second shut down later this year due to a flare-up of new cases.

“I have a good friend of mine that is a member of yours and she’s shared her fears about losing everything she’s built and about her concerns for her employees,” she said. “I know that there are people that are hurting, people that are isolated, business owners that are worried, and employees who don’t know if they are going to have a job.”

In response to a question from SBAM President Brian CALLEY, Whitmer said while data coming in day-to-day could change plans, her team hopes to lay out the first steps to reopening on April 28.

“I know that we all have a vested interest in making sure we get this right,” Whitmer said. “It’s being driven by a lot of different factors. Is your business primarily done inside or outside? Is it primarily in an office setting? Is it face to face? That’s just three of a lot of questions so that we can score the risk that is associated with different aspects of our economy.”

Whitmer’s latest emergency order — the one that gives her the power to suspend state laws, order us to stay home, close stores, restaurants, etc. — is expiring April 30. Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) made it clear he’s not going to support renewing it without some alterations.

“It’s not likely the Legislature is going to embrace continuation of that without some very specific loosening and other plans on opening our economy back up,” Shirkey told Radio Free Hillsdale on Monday. “There will be, I predict, a fair amount of arm wrestling and negotiations that will occur that has already started, but it will come at a more frenetic pace by the end of the month.”

One could argue — and several legal minds have — that the Governor can tell Shirkey and House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) that she’s going to sign a new, updated emergency executive order extension. If they don’t like it, they can stick it.

Shirkey and Chatfield can take her to court. They can argue the 1976 emergency powers law gives lawmakers 28 days to extend emergency orders.

Whitmer can argue the same law doesn’t diminish the powers of a 1945 law that doesn’t give the Legislature this check and balance power.

The state Supreme Court would end up in the middle of declaring a winner and loser in a feared constitutional crisis. Former appellate Judge William WHITBECK believes the Governor would win. However, in the meantime, the public would be stuck in a confusing limbo state in which the government isn’t speaking with a unified message.

The belief is more people would scrap social distancing. They’d move around like it was pre-St. Patrick’s Day, spreading the coronavirus all over the place. More people would take future stay-at-home orders less seriously. More deaths. Longer joblessness.

Behind the scenes, the parties are talking. Shirkey spoke with Whitmer on Monday after a couple-week hiatus in which the two didn’t talk. Shirkey told radio host Scott BERTRAM he didn’t get the sense Whitmer was interested in his idea to reopen segments of the economy May 1.

Shirkey had been hot with his rhetoric after Whitmer banned gardening and paint sales before Easter, saying in a Bridge Magazine editorial, the “list of absurdities” in the Governor’s recent executive order is “long, and unlike our gardens, it’s growing.”

Chatfield has played more good cop to Shirkey’s bad cop, being much more measured in his public statements and scoring minor victories in the process, like the easing on the church services ban.

“I don’t want to get into a hypothetical situation of where were at on the 30th because I’m going to continue to negotiate with the Governor on a daily basis,” Chatfield said last week.

The Governor said this week she will be extending her emergency order past May 1 one way or the other. This doesn’t mean the stay-at-home order will remain as it is.

It just means the COVID-19 crisis will continue past May 1 and she needs the flexibility to manage the state’s response.

“I believe that regardless of what the Legislature does I still retain those powers, but I would like for them to be partners in this work,” she said. “We’ve have worked well together on a number of fronts and we need to continue working together because this is not a partisan issue.”

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