Top Michigan Republicans ready to work with Whitmer on coronavirus issues

Senate returning to work on coronavirus legislation Thursday, followed by the House on Oct. 12
From left: Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, House Speaker...
From left: Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, House Speaker Lee Chatfield(WLUC)
Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The top Republican in the Michigan House said he hasn’t heard directly from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer since a ruling Friday removed some of her emergency authority, but he’s ready to work with her on coronavirus issues.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield said the Republican-led Legislature is working on coronavirus measures after the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which Whitmer had been using to issue statewide orders.

The Senate is returning to session on Thursday to vote on bills and send them to the House, which will return to session on Oct. 13. The House cannot vote on bills from the Senate for five days, so that chamber is returning as early as possible to pass legislation.

A joint statement from Chatfield and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey on Tuesday evening says they have not decided on a specific legislative agenda. Members of both chambers are reviewing Whitmer’s slate of coronavirus orders to determine which require immediate attention.

“While the governor spends her time on the campaign trail and taking political jabs at legislative partners, we are putting together a smarter plan of action to provide certainty to Michigan families and move this state forward,” the statement from Chatfield and Shirkey says.

Chatfield disagrees with Whitmer’s claim that the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t take effect for 21 days from Oct. 2 and her request for a 28-day stay to allow time for her administration to work with lawmakers on next steps.

“That opinion takes immediate effect and I think she’s wrong on a 21-day delay and her request for a stay," Chatfield said.

Shirkey said his chamber also is prepared to negotiate with Whitmer. He pointed out that senators already voted earlier this year to turn many of her orders into laws around the time the Legislature denied a State of Emergency extension on April 30.

“You can go back and find many of the executive orders that we codified and sent to the governor and she actually vetoed those," Shirkey said. "So when it comes to fighting COVID-19, when it comes to finding common ground, we’re coming with an open book.”

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