The state’s leading small business organization, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), supports the “Unlock Michigan” ballot initiative that would repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 (Public Act 302 of 1945). Governor Whitmer has been using this Act to continue the “State of Emergency” and issue executive orders that do not require legislative oversight or approval. 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.
“Preserving the balance of power in governance in both our state and federal Constitutions is one of the hallmarks of our system of representative government,” said NFIB State Director Charlie Owens. “Unfortunately, efforts to address the serious situation with the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in unilateral actions by the Executive Office with little consultation or cooperation from legislative leadership. Instead, the governor has issued more than one hundred executive orders that are often arbitrary, conflicting, and difficult to implement for Michigan small business. As a result, Michigan is struggling to restart our economy and allow small business to reengage in commerce and bring back jobs for our citizens.”
According to Owens, the governor would still have the necessary powers to declare an emergency under the 1976 Emergency Management Act, but that law would require approval from the legislature every 28 days to extend a “state of emergency”.
Owens said that a recent survey of NFIB small business owners reflected the concerns small businesses have with the use of emergency powers in handling the COVID-19 outbreak. When asked if the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 should be repealed, 74% of small business members said YES, 16% said NO, and 10% were Undecided.
“The Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 is an outdated law that was passed to address instances of rioting and acts of violence that were of concern towards the end of World War II,” said Owens. “The 1976 law was intended to be a more modern and flexible statute that allows a governor to respond to an emergency while preserving the Constitutional balance of power in state government.”
“We look forward to working with NFIB and their more than 10,000 small business members to get the signatures necessary to get this repeal 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 check and balances to Michigan.”