Michigan Legislature votes to repeal 1945 Emergency Powers Act

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a press conference on COVID-19.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a press conference on COVID-19.(source: State of Michigan)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 3:09 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Michigan House has voted to repeal the Emergency Powers Act of 1945, a law used by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to control the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.

The House voted Wednesday 60-48 to repeal the act after failing last year. However, the Michigan Supreme Court deemed the act unconstitutional in Oct. 2020.

The repeal comes after a group called “Unlock Michigan” started a petition to repeal the act and got over 400,000 signatures. In June, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the State Board of Canvassers must review the petition, where it was passed to the Michigan Senate.

Governor Whitmer used the law to issues health and safety restrictions during the early parts of the pandemic, including a face mask mandate and requirements for certain businesses to close for in-person customers. However this did not come without pushback from Republicans and others.

“Hundreds of thousands of our families, friends and neighbors changed Michigan forever when they decided they had enough and stood up to make a difference,” said Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth in a statement. “They deserve a state government that is willing to do the same. They’ve earned that much. That’s why we had their back today and put this petition into law.”

Democrats opposed repealing the law, saying the power is needed, and lawmakers should allow the petition to go to voters in the form of a ballot question.

Despite the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act being repealed, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services still has the authority to make public health orders with the separate Public Health Code.

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