Senate Bill 858: Accelerate lifting of epidemic lockdowns: Passed 22 to 16 in the Senate
To amend a 1976 “Emergency Management Act,” one of two state laws that grant extraordinary emergency powers to a governor. This law limits these powers to 28 days unless extended by the legislature, which on the same day as this vote the legislature declined to do. This make makes Gov. Whitmer’s exercise of emergency powers more reliant on a 1945 “Emergency Powers of Governor” law, which does not limit how long a governor may retain these powers and does not require legislative approval. The bill does two things. It essentially “writes into” this law (“incorporates by reference”) the current coronavirus epidemic executive orders that have been imposed under its authority, but with different termination dates for many than in the governor’s order. In general, orders that are more restrictive of business reopening get earlier end-dates, and ones easing state regulations (including those on medical care providers and facilities) are extended for a longer time. Bars and restaurants could reopen with social distancing protocols on May 16 under the bill. Second, it adds to this law “social distancing” protocols for businesses and public accommodations that are somewhat more general and flexible than those in the current orders.
On the day the bill passed an angry breakdown occurred in lockdown-easing negotiations between Michigan's Republican Senate Majority Leader. This bill will not be signed by the governor and will not go into law, but may be significant as a political statement from the majority party in a co-equal branch of government, the legislature.
Senate Bill 858: Accelerate lifting of epidemic lockdowns: Passed 59 to 41 in the House
The House vote on the coronavirus epidemic response bill described above.
House Bill 5709: Revise penalties for violating governor’s orders during declared emergency: Passed 62 to 38 in the House
To revise the penalties in the laws that authorize a governor to assume extraordinary powers during an emergency, including the statewide “lockdowns” ordered under the 2020 coronavirus epidemic. The current law makes violations “a misdemeanor,” and the bill would add a “civil infraction” provision and specify fines of either $100 for individuals, and up to $500 for businesses or other entities. House Bill 5710 makes the same change in the other state of emergency law.
To adopt a non-binding resolution that would "urge the Governor to allow elective procedures in hospitals and to allow healthcare providers the freedom to determine their capacity to handle elective procedures."
To authorize the Speaker of the House to commence legal action on behalf of the House of Representatives, challenging the authority and actions of the Governor, and the executive branch generally, taken during the coronavirus epidemic.
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