When the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders and unanimously declared that her actions were illegal, the question on most people’s minds was, “What happens now?” Fortunately, the Mackinac Center was standing by to help them navigate what would become a complex and constantly changing set of circumstances. Almost immediately, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a series of orders nearly identical to some of Gov. Whitmer’s now-invalidated executive orders.
Michael Van Beek issued a warning in an op-ed published in The Detroit News the morning after the decision. “As important as this ruling is, if the governor continues shutting out the Legislature and sidesteps the Supreme Court’s ruling by issuing the same orders through a state department, Michigan residents should expect continued legal controversy and confusion,” said Van Beek. “While there is room for debate about the effectiveness of many of Whitmer’s emergency orders, her unrelenting pursuit of unilateral control should be concerning to anyone who believes in the value of a balance of power in government.”
Things became a bit clearer after the Michigan Supreme Court rejected the governor’s request to delay the effects of its decision. Unfortunately, as the Mackinac Center told The Associated Press, the fight isn’t over. “While today’s motion affirmed that the court’s decision is now law, the governor is continuing to sidestep the ruling by maintaining unilateral control over pandemic policies via broad and poorly defined powers granted to a state department,” said Patrick Wright, vice president of legal affairs. The AP article was picked up by dozens of local papers across the state, as well as MLive, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News. CBS Detroit turned to the Mackinac Center for comment.
Michigan voters had the chance to approve or reject two different proposals on the November ballot. For Proposal 1, the fiscal and environmental policy departments teamed up to co-author a report that examines how the State Park Endowment Fund and the Natural Resources Trust Fund both operate and what the proposed amendment would change. In an op-ed published in The Detroit News, James Hohman and Jason Hayes inform readers about the proposal and how it relates to the public trust doctrine. As they write in the piece, “[Voters] ought to compare the value of spending on parks and recreation in a way that benefits the public interest with the value of having the state spend the money elsewhere once the trust funds reach their current caps.” Both proposals passed with overwhelming support.
To inform the public about Proposal 2, which addresses data privacy, Jarrett Skorup teamed up with Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute in Utah. The two wrote an op-ed that was originally published in Bridge Michigan and then republished in the Oakland Press and Macomb Daily. The piece looks at Utah’s adaption of a bill similar to Proposal 2 and the importance of data privacy.