(The Center Square) – The Michigan legislature extended Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers for 23 days.
The House and Senate on Tuesday afternoon approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 to extend the emergency declaration through April 30, in line with President Donald Trump’s social distancing guidelines.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requested a 70-day extension, which would have stretched to June 16.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, proposed changing the 23-day extension to a full 70 days, which the Senate rejected.
“We tried to extend the state of emergency for the full 70 days as requested, but at the end of the day this shortened time frame is what was in front of us for a vote,” Ananich said in a statement.
“I wish the extension was longer, but we will continue to keep moving forward and doing our jobs just like millions of Americans are being asked to do.”
Republican lawmakers said the coronavirus situation was changing rapidly, and that they could extend the time frame again if needed.
“The extraordinary steps we have taken across the state to fight this pandemic – staying home, temporarily closing nonessential businesses, social distancing – are working,” Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, said in a statement.
“As we have all been saying, the situation surrounding COVID-19 remains fluid; extending the state of emergency that far out doesn’t take this aspect of the pandemic into account. We can revisit the situation as April 30 nears to see if we need to extend it again.”
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, on Tuesday announced a workgroup to plan a transition back to regular life.
“There are tremendous financial and psychological impacts to people from being out of work. Without the option to maintain employment, many of our citizens will experience extreme mental stress and that in turn can manifest itself as physical ailments, a weakened immune system, and tense domestic environments,” Shirkey said in a statement.
“The more prepared we are to bring workplaces back online, the quicker we can return financial stability, reduce stress levels and provide hope for our citizens.”
The workgroup will gather information from businesses, medical professionals, and citizens to create a plan to transition back to work, aiming to pass recommendations to Whitmer by April 17.
“This is an aggressive goal, but we feel it is important to have solid recommendations in place to be ready when the risk level in our state decreases,” Shirkey said.