3 UP lawmakers call for less COVID restrictions

The push for less restrictions coming just days after the U.P. lawmakers voted in favor of spending $4.2 billion in COVID-19 spending.
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 4:47 PM EST
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UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - On Friday, three Upper Michigan lawmakers made a bipartisan call for less coronavirus restrictions.

“I was hoping we’d be at the stage we are now a month and a half ago; we weren’t. So yeah, I think at this point we’re being a little too cautious,” said Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) of the 109th State House District.

“If the governor was working with the legislature right now, we’d probably be at 75 percent capacity at restaurants,” said Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) of the 108th State House District.

Republican Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township), who represents Michigan’s 38th State Senate District, also says restrictions are too tight.

The push for less restrictions coming just days after the U.P. lawmakers voted in favor of spending $4.2 billion in COVID-19 spending. A large portion of it is federal funding passed in December. It will be used for vaccine distribution, school funding, testing and much more.

However, nearly $1.2 billion of the legislature’s plan is tied to lessening the state health department’s powers including restrictions lasting no more than 28 days without lawmakers approval.

“It’s been a year. She never plans on ending this until we get some power for coequal branches of government,” said LaFave.

“It’s a good thing to do. Do I like that it’s being done in this way, tied to an appropriation spending bill? No,” said Cambensy.

The bills now go the governor’s desk for approval where at least a partial veto is expected.

Meanwhile, the Senate Advice and Consent Committee is considering a possible rejection of the director of the state health department, Elizabeth Hertel. Republic Sen. McBroom is on the committee and worked with Hertel when she was a health policy specialist for House Republicans.

“We haven’t always agreed on things, even when she worked for the House Republicans when I was there, but I always found her to be really great to work with, very knowledgeable,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-38th State Senate District. “On the other hand many of the answers she gave are very much apathetical to the positions I’ve staked out publicly.”

Republicans need 19 senators to successfully reject Hertel. So far only seven have committed to doing so. McBroom remains undecided.

“I would have to say I’m very much pulled back and forth both directions on this,” said McBroom. “I couldn’t say which way I’m leaning at all.”

While McBroom says he often disagrees with Hertel, he questions what a rejection would do.

“At the same time even if she’s rejected the governor can simply appoint her again or another person with the same perspective or with perspectives I disagree with even more,” said McBroom.

McBroom says the committee will hold a third hearing with Hertel next week. He expects a decision the following week.

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