LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Senate Bill 858 and Senate Resolution 114, extending safety protocols for businesses and public places and defending the Legislature’s role in states of emergency.
“This health crisis is inflicting significant harm on our families,” said state Sen. Aric Nesbitt. “We have attempted to partner with the governor to combat this crisis. State government should be working collaboratively and effectively, but Gov. Whitmer is insisting on having total control of our state and making every decision by herself.”
Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4 on March 10 declaring a state of emergency across Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 7, the Legislature adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 to extend the states of emergency and disaster through April 30.
The Senate sent the governor legislation to put several COVID-19 executive orders into law and extend those that need to continue to help extend efforts to fight the virus and deal with its impacts. Among the 28 orders included in Senate Bill 858 are those regarding expanded unemployment benefits (EO 2020-57), distance learning for schools (EO 2020-35), and liability protections for health care workers treating patients in innovative ways (EO 2020-39).
The bill does not include or extend the state of emergency declaration or the governor’s stay-at-home order (EO 2020-59).
“The governor has made mistakes that could have been avoided, such as forgetting for nearly a month to apply for critical federal assistance; failing to prepare and reinforce our unemployment system; and giving a no-bid government contract to her political operatives to handle personal health care records,” Nesbitt said. “We passed strong legislation today to help our state through the crisis by supporting first responders and health care professionals; continuing commonsense emergency actions; and allowing medical care and construction to resume — like our neighboring states have done.”
The Senate also approved Senate Resolution 114 to allow the body to challenge in court any executive actions taken by the governor after the Legislature’s state of emergency extension expires on May 1.
“The Senate offered to work with the governor to reach a compromise on the stay-at-home order, but she refused to even consider working with the Legislature,” Nesbitt said. “Unfortunately, the governor refuses to give residents any indication of when or how Michigan will emerge from this state of emergency that has already lasted more than 50 days. We will not allow the governor’s unwillingness to work with us to stop our work to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and establish a transparent path to reopening Michigan safely and in stages.”
Editor’s note: Video of Sen. Aric Nesbitt providing remarks on the Senate floor during Thursday evening’s session can be viewed here or on his website.