Stamas supports increased legislative input during states of emergency

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Friday supported measures to increase legislative oversight of the governor’s extraordinary powers during a state of emergency and create a new bipartisan COVID-19 panel.

The actions came on the same day the governor announced a new executive order extending her stay-at-home order until May 15 while lifting some restrictions on outdoor activities, allowing some workers to go back to work, and ordering people to wear masks in public enclosed places.

“I continue to be frustrated with the governor’s unwillingness to consider more commonsense changes to her over-reaching lockdown,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “While this new order is less restrictive than her last one, it remains more invasive than the federal guidelines and still forces many Michigan workers — who could return to work safely — to stay home.”

Senate Bill 857 would repeal the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which does not require legislative input on executive actions, and SB 858 would amend the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to only allow declarations of disaster or emergency to last 14 days before requiring legislative approval, instead of 28 days.

“No governor should have unlimited, unilateral power to restrict the lives and freedoms of Michigan families for as long as he or she sees fit,” Stamas said. “We are a republic and sooner rather than later, the people — through their elected representatives — deserve a voice in how the government’s actions impact in their lives. These responsible reforms will ensure the people’s voices are heard.”

The Legislature also approved House Concurrent Resolution 20 to create the bicameral, bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“This panel will review our state’s preparation for the virus and response to the outbreak to ensure Michigan lives and livelihoods are better protected in the event of any future health emergency,” Stamas said.