LANSING, MIch. (WLUC) - The Michigan legislature voted Tuesday to extend Governor Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration through April 30.
Michigan has been in a state of emergency for nearly a month already, with Governor Whitmer making the announcement in March. That order was set to expire Tuesday, April 7, but now has been extended to the end of the month.
"We felt after a lot of discussions that 23 days, lining us up with some of what the national experts are recommending, is a limited, but good move," said State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan).
The extension of this declaration means that executive orders made by the governor pertaining to the pandemic, like freeing up of funds and closing of schools, will be able to remain in effect.
"At this point by bringing in the legislature and its perspective to this as well, there's an opportunity for a lot more feedback into the process than there's been up to this point," said McBroom.
The declaration is separate from Governor Whitmer's ‘Stay home, Stay safe’ order, which is expected to be extended by the governor before it expires on Monday.
"Perhaps the governor is going to want to extend the stay at home order, but we that then it should stay within the extent of the emergency declaration," said McBroom.
The governor wanted the state of emergency extended 70 days, or until roughly mid-June. Republicans felt that it would be best to go with a shorter extension, and begin to work towards getting residents back to work in whatever capacity is safest.
"It begins to give us a chance and a road map for getting back on our feet again, getting things rolling again and trying to move forward as, hopefully, the pandemic will slow down and become more manageable," said McBroom.
The decision also gives the legislature some flexibility.
"It also provides the legislature the opportunity to weigh in and potentially shorten the emergency if things get better fast, or reevaluate here in 23 days and say, oh, it's still going on,” said McBroom.
State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, released a statement Wednesday morning about the vote.
“While I don’t agree with Republican leadership to limit the declaration to 23 days with Covid-19 numbers continuing to climb aggressively, I still support the extension to allow Governor Whitmer to continue making crucial public health decisions," said Cambensy. "Limiting the Governor’s extension today will potentially require the Legislature to be called back into session in Lansing during the height of the health crisis in Michigan in the coming weeks. This means U.P. legislators will need to go back downstate to urban areas where Covid-19 is prevalent, only to turn around and return home where we may put others at risk. House Democrats had an alternative solution and introduced a resolution to allow controlled, remote voting on emergency measures until the ‘Stay Home. Stay Safe’ order is lifted to avoid traveling. It was not referred to the floor and did not pass.”
“These are difficult times, and now is not the time to be divided as elected leaders. We have all made significant adjustments to our lives to make sure we are able to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors, and this unity needs to remain our focus,” said Representative Cambensy. “There are a lot of questions surrounding these Covid-19 changes and the uncertainty that constituents and business owners have, and my team and I are working hard to get answers to their questions as soon as possible.”