Michigan lawmakers, protestors test governor's stay-home orders
4 min read
Tensions between Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-led Michigan legislature reflect nationwide debates on reopening the economy. After armed protestors showed up at the Capitol, Governor Whitmer declared a new 28-day state of emergency.
The Republican-led Michigan Legislature refused Thursday to extend the state's coronavirus emergency declaration and voted to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's authority and actions to combat the pandemic. The governor, unfazed, responded with orders stating under one law that an emergency still exists, while declaring a new 28-day state of emergency under another law. The declarations are important because they are the foundation for Ms. Whitmer's stay-at-home measure, which will remain in effect through May 15, and other directives aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The virus that causes COVID-19 has infected more than 41,000 Michigan residents and contributed to the deaths of 3,789, many in the Detroit area. Ms. Whitmer accused GOP lawmakers of "putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I'm not going to let that happen." The legislative pushback came as hundreds of conservative activists, including some who were openly carrying assault rifles, returned to the Capitol to denounce her stay-home order. Ms. Whitmer wanted legislators to extend the emergency before it was to expire late Thursday. But at the same time, she believes she has other powers to respond to the crisis and does not need a legislatively-approved extension – which Republicans dispute and appeared poised to challenge in court. The virus and the steps taken to curb it, including the closure of nonessential businesses, have had a devastating effect on the economy. In her new emergency orders, Ms. Whitmer said cases are doubling every six days or faster in some counties in western and northern Michigan. The House and Senate voted along party lines for a bill, which Ms. Whitmer will vet, that would…