At the height of the pandemic, lawmakers around the country scrambled to pass rules designed to keep the populace safe. This included the execution of “emergency powers.”
Many state governors claimed their emergency right in order to enact those rules. However, now some citizens are saying governors should never have such power.
And in one state, that 75-year-old law might soon disappear.
A ballot drive recently kicked off in Michigan, and the goal is to get 500,000 signatures to strip Governor Gretchen Whitmer of her emergency powers.
Whitmer used this power to issue statewide face mask edicts, as well as social distancing rules. But many residents claim she went too far.
Now, they’re awfully close to repealing the 1945 emergency powers option.
From The Hill:
A ballot drive to repeal a Michigan law that gives the governor emergency powers has gathered more than 400,000 signatures as of Friday.
If the state elections board determines that at least 340,000 of the signatures are valid, then the Republican-controlled legislature would likely move to repeal the law rather than wait for a 2022 public vote.
Whitmer would not be able to veto the repeal.
This measure would keep one individual from having so much influence during dire situations.
But it would still give any governor the chance to declare a state of emergency (a law enacted in 1976); they just wouldn’t be able to execute singular power on their own.
In the view of many, this is about removing an overly authoritative option.
Said Unlock Michigan spokesperson Fred Wszolek:
No one should think that allowing a politician to have unlimited power for an unlimited duration is a good idea.
Put the shoe on the other foot and decide if you think this is a good idea because at some time in your future the shoe will be on the other foot.
Unlock Michigan anticipates having enough signatures as early as this month. Afterward, the state elections bureau won’t take more than 75 days to verify the signatures.
In reply, Gov. Whitmer has asked state residents not to sign the petition, as she claims her orders allowed the government to “keep people safe.”
On her side is Keep Michigan Safe, a group formed to oppose Unlock Michigan. They hope to find “flawed or duplicate signatures” on the petition so the measure won’t pass.
Safety is a determining factor, of course, but when one politician holds an immense amount of power, it’s difficult for some citizens to accept.
Elected officials are supposed to operate on behalf of the people — and there’s some question as to whether or not a governor’s emergency powers extend beyond the boundaries of democracy.
Either way, this may set a precedent. Other states might attempt to repeal emergency powers for their governors, especially if it happens in Michigan.
- 400,000 Michigan residents signed a petition to strip Governor Gretchen Whitmer of her emergency powers.
- If it ends up passing, a governor would still be able to declare a state of emergency. But their individual power and influence would be curtailed.
- Unlock Michigan spokesperson Fred Wszolek said no politician should have “unlimited power for an unlimited duration.”
Source: The Hill