Asked to extend emergency, Republican lawmakers want firmer timeline

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In rolling out her plan to reopen Michigan’s economy, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that it will happen safely and slowly, but there is increasing pressure to move the process along more quickly.

The difference of opinion between some Republican legislators and the Democratic governor could lead to a showdown over extending the state of emergency Michigan is under.

That state of emergency gives the government the power to take special actions to deal with a crisis. It is separate from the executive orders Whitmer has issued, like the stay-at-home order.

Whitmer said Monday she wants the Legislature to extend the state of emergency, currently scheduled to expire at the end of the month, 28 more days.

But with Republicans from areas seeing fewer COVID-19 cases feeling increased pressure from their constituents to reopen the economy, getting 56 votes in the House to extend the emergency may be more difficult than once thought.

Regardless, the governor seems optimistic.

“I’m committed to working with the Legislature,” she told News 8 Tuesday. “I’m hopeful that they extend it because this is a moment we need to recognize that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. (The virus) can still spread or it can keep contracting. My hope is it’s the latter, but we’ve got to be prepared one way or another.”

State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, is not on board and wants a clearer path forward.

“I would like to see a plan. “If we had a reasonable, well-thought-out plan, we can all follow it. I haven’t yet seen that,” Afendoulis said. “I have seen that we are going to look at the state regionally, I think that’s smart. We’ve been advocating for that many weeks. Looking at businesses through the lens of safe versus unsafe. Now we need a plan that shows a timeline. It’s nice to have those things out there (but) I haven’t seen a timeline. That concerns me very much.”

When asked whether that meant she would vote no if the vote was held immediately, she responded, “That is correct.”

Whitmer said Monday that there would be no hard-and-fast deadline for reopening businesses and that developments would depend on the state of the outbreak.

The vote to extend the emergency order could happen as soon as Wednesday.

Whichever way it goes, it will likely be the focus of another protest against the governor’s orders expected to be held in Lansing Thursday.

  

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