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Michigan Legislature To Extend Whitmer Emergency Powers

Apr 7, 2020

Michigan House of Representatives
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

State lawmakers will return to Lansing today for the first time since March 17th.  They expect to vote on a resolution to extend Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus crisis.  Rick Pluta explains.


The Legislature will meet Tuesday to vote on a resolution to extend the emergency powers Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s invoked to address the COVID-19 outbreak.  The House and the Senate have adopted special rules for in-person voting while adhering to health protections.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) says long-distance voting is not an option right now.        

“There would certainly be some security, technology, transparency, legal concerns,” he said, “and we certainly would not want to allow that precedent to be started unless it’s done the right way.” 

Chatfield was on a phone and web call with southeast Michigan business leaders organized by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The special rules adopted by the House and the Senate will only allow a few lawmakers on the floors at any given time to cast votes before they’re expected to quickly exit.  The process is expected to take about three hours.

The resolutions will extend the governor’s emergency powers until May 1st.  Republican leaders have not agreed to Governor Whitmer’s request for a 70-day extension.

“There’s no way of telling what the perfect decision is,” said Chatfield, “but we’re doing the best we can to work with her and ensure it’s being done in a nonpartisan way.”

Whitmer shared a different view in a session with journalists:

“If they’re coming in, I hope they’d seriously look at extending it to 70 days because I’d really hate for them to have to come back at the height of the crisis that we’re confronting.”

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org