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LANSING, Michigan, July 23, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Michigan lawmakers repealed a law that allowed Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to impose some of the harshest COVID-19 restrictions in the United States during the coronavirus crisis.
Michigan’s Republican-led House of Representatives voted 60-48 on Wednesday to approve a citizen initiative to scrap the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945. Four Democrats joined all Republicans to support the measure, which the Senate backed last week with a 20-15 vote. Michigan law prohibits governors from vetoing citizen initiatives endorsed by the legislature, according to The Epoch Times.
“The Michigan House approved the Unlock Michigan citizens’ initiative to repeal the unconstitutional 1945 state law Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used to hold unilateral power over the people of Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Michigan House Republicans said Wednesday. “Your voices have been heard!”
The repeal of the emergency powers law takes effect 90 days after the legislative session is adjourned.
Gov. Whitmer had relied on the Emergency Powers of Governor Act to issue indefinite, sweeping COVID-19 orders that shuttered schools and churches and shut down entire sectors of the economy deemed “non-essential.” Studies have repeatedly established that lockdowns are ineffective at stopping the spread of coronavirus.
Whitmer’s arbitrary decrees included bans on visiting a secondary home or selling gardening supplies, but left marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores open, the Center Square noted.
Like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, she also required elderly patients to be readmitted to nursing homes after hospitalization for COVID-19. More than 5,600 of Michigan’s roughly 21,000 virus deaths have been reported among residents of long-term care facilities, though the state has admitted that there may have been additional, uncounted nursing home deaths that could number into the thousands.
Unlock Michigan, the group leading the citizen petition against the Emergency Powers of Governor Act, began gathering signatures to curb the 1945 law last July.
“Our Unlock Michigan citizen army collected over 540,000 signatures in just 80 days,” Fred Wszolek, a spokesman for the organization, tweeted Wednesday. “Now, 292 days later, we’ll complete our mission with a final vote in the Legislature to end Gov. Whitmer’s rule by decree.”
Of the nearly 540,000 signatures that Unlock Michigan submitted to the state Board of Canvassers, 460,358 were deemed valid, surpassing the required number of signatures by more than 120,000. The Michigan Supreme Court ordered the petitions certified last month, after two Democratic board members attempted to block certification.
The high court had deemed the Emergency Powers of Governor Act unconstitutional in October and unanimously ruled against orders – including the nursing home rules – that Gov. Whitmer issued after lawmakers refused to extend her emergency declaration beyond April 2020.
Whitmer nevertheless continued imposing mask and capacity restrictions for months through the Michigan Department of Public Health. She voluntarily ended most of her remaining mandates in June after being found violating her own restrictions at a bar.
Unlock Michigan has already introduced a petition to repeal a law pertaining to the powers of Michigan’s health department. “Don’t bet against our success there either,” Wszolek said.
At least 12 other states have enacted policies to limit governors’ unilateral authority in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Earlier this year, Pennsylvanians voted to strip the emergency powers of Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, approving two constitutional amendments that grant more control to the Republican-led legislature.
“The people of Pennsylvania have exercised their vote and resoundingly reaffirmed their desire for a government with strong checks and balances that works in their interests and not for its own power,” Pennsylvania Republican House Speaker Bryan Cutler and Republican House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said at the time. “In doing so, they have rejected the mutation of emergency authority into unilateral, one-person control that seeks expediency over the rule of law.”