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New lawsuit challenges Whitmer's emergency power

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

A conservative legal foundation has filed a new challenge against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ability to issue new emergency orders related to workplaces and the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Mackinac Center says the governor’s earlier orders have succeeded in slowing the pace of new COVID-19 infections.

The lawsuit says the governor’s orders now exceed her authority under emergency management laws.

Patrick Wright is the Mackinac Center’s legal director.

“I recognize that the governor wants to make sure that laws are followed, but she too has to follow them,” he said.

The Mackinac Center says Whitmer has stretched the meaning of “emergency” to continue to issue new emergency orders.

The lawsuit also says she’s claiming the right to use administrative powers that govern workplace rules to enforce those orders. Under her orders, workplace violations carry bigger fines and penalties.

“So instead of a $500 fine that would come after going through the criminal process, you could be looking at a $70,000 fine a day, and it seems aimed to try and quell dissent.” 

A Michigan Court of Claims judge Thursday rejected a challenge filed by the Legislature’s Republican leaders to how Whitmer has used her emergency powers.

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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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