Health experts fear outcome of Unlock Michigan 2.0 petition

Petition aims to limit local emergency powers
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Wednesday, public health officials held a Zoom press conference speaking out against a petition from a group called Unlock Michigan. The petition’s goal is to limit the power of state and local health officials when it comes to emergency mandates. That power would go to lawmakers.

The proposal terminates public health orders after 28 days. Under the proposal, a health order can be extended by only state legislators or city commissions. Health experts said this proposal is too dangerous.

Janet Olszewski, former Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, said, “Do not sign it. It’s a dangerous proposal. It undermines public health and puts lives at risk.

News 10 reached out to the Unlock Michigan group. An official with the group said they want state and local health officials to take input from the public through the legislature. They said this will keep health officials in check and appropriately limit their power in times of crisis.

Olszewski said, “It takes decision-making away from these expert individuals and groups and puts it in the hands of politicians. State and public health officials have the specific training and expertise to understand the emerging threats and to quickly develop and deploy responses to those threats. That’s why they and not politicians are best suited to coordinate our responses at the local and state level to public health emergencies.”

Last year Unlock Michigan launched a petition to repeal the Emergency Powers Act of 1945. That’s what Governor Gretchen Whitmer used to enforce shutdowns and mask mandates during the early days of the pandemic. That petition got plenty of support with hundreds of thousands of people signing on. There is no deadline set for when the petition needs to be completed. Unlock Michigan has to get signatures from 340,000 registered voters in Michigan to advance its second petition drive. It collected nearly 560,000 signatures in last year’s drive. 460,000 were deemed valid.

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