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Lawmakers return to Lansing Friday for special session

Gretchen Whitmer
State of Michigan

Lawmakers returned to Lansing Friday for an unexpected special session.

Legislators wore homemade masks, and went through temperature screening before entering the capitol for the second time under the stay-at-home order.

The Republican majority called legislators back to create an oversight committee on pandemic response and vote on bills to curb the governor’s emergency powers.

Senator Tom Barrett, a Republican from Charlotte was a sponsor of the bills.

"This bill removes any doubt as to the proper roles of government in our state. We can both grieve for the loss of life and still protect our system of government," he said. "Those two are not mutually exclusive.”

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) says the session was important, so the Legislature can have a voice in the state response.

“Again, our main focus right now is ensuring that we have a collaborative process, moving forward with this administration, ensure they’re handling this pandemic the right way, so we can be the voice for the people as the Legislature was always intended to be,” Chatfield said.

Democrats called the session a political stunt and the oversight committee a sham.

State Senator Rosemary Bayer, a Democrat from Beverly Hills, says according to polling the majority of people favor the response the governor is taking.

These bills show a flagrant disregard for science, for the constitution, and for what the people want," she said. "They make it clear that the health of the people of Michigan isn’t a priority and that politics is.”

Republicans counter that the governor’s handling of the pandemic is a power grab.

Lawmakers will return next week to vote on whether or not to extend the Governor’s emergency powers.

The bills to limit the governor’s emergency powers passed the senate along party lines and both chambers approved the oversight committee into the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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