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Senate could vote on bill to reduce penalty for violating Whitmer COVID orders

The state Senate could adopt and send a bill to Governor Gretchen Whitmer that would reduce the penalties for violating orders she’s signed to deal with COVID-19 in Michigan.

The bill would reduce the penalty for violating an order from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction.

Republican state Representative Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance) is the bill sponsor.

“I think we have to continue to look at this from a process of this is just unprecedented times. And we want to make sure that people aren’t just unnecessarily put into a misdemeanor, have something put on their criminal record based on an executive order that has a lot of confusion to it,” he said.

Senator Stephanie Chang is a Democrat from Detroit who serves on the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. She voted Tuesday against sending the bill to the Senate floor.

“I support, in general, a move towards decriminalizing things that may be minor, but I do still think there could violations of an executive order that could warrant a misdemeanor,” she said.

Chang says she thinks the primary purpose of the bill is to undermine Governor Whitmer while she is still trying to manage the crisis.

The full Senate could vote on the bill this week. Whitmer could veto the bill if it reaches her desk.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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