(LANSING) — The state’s leading small business organization, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), announced that it will be supporting the “Unlock Michigan 2” ballot initiative that would limit epidemic emergency orders through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to no more than 28 days without legislative approval. The initiative language would also limit local health department epidemic orders to 28 days unless approved by the appropriate local governing authority.
“Since the state Supreme Court ruled the governor’s use of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 unconstitutional, the governor has been issuing pandemic emergency orders through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to shut down the state and place restrictions on small business,” said NFIB State Director Charlie Owens. “Now that the first Unlock Michigan ballot initiative has repealed the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, it is time to take the next step and fully restore the balance of power in our state by ending unchecked use of these health department epidemic orders.”
Owens said that with enough signatures and verification from the Bureau of Elections, the legislature can approve the citizen’s initiative with a simple majority vote without the governor’s approval. Owens added that the governor would still have the necessary powers to declare an emergency under the 1976 Emergency Management Act, but that law would also require approval from the legislature every 28 days to extend a “state of emergency”.
“The governor’s unchecked use of these orders has devastated small business in our state,” said Owens. “It is worth noting that the NFIB member support for the Unlock Michigan 2 proposal is 18 points higher than the support for the original Unlock Michigan ballot proposal.” Owens said that when NFIB small business owners were asked if they support legislation to limit public health epidemic orders to 28 days unless an extension is approved by the legislature, 92 percent of small business members said YES, 5 percent said NO, and 3 percent were Undecided. That compared with a response to support the original Unlock Michigan repeal of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 of 74 percent of small business members saying YES, 16 percent saying NO, and 10 percent Undecided.
Owens said that the first survey was conducted in July of 2020 when the full impact of the governor’s shutdown orders had not yet rippled through the small business economy. “After more than a year to assess the damage, the survey results make it clear that small business is totally behind putting limits on the power of any governor to create this much disruption in our economy,” said Owens.
“We look forward to working with NFIB and their small business members to get the signatures necessary to get this proposal before the legislature where it can be approved without needing the signature of the governor,” said Unlock Michigan spokesperson Fred Wszolek. “We’re thrilled to have NFIB and its members on our side as we collect the signatures required to restore checks and balances to Michigan government.”