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GOP Lawmakers in Michigan Vote to Sue Gov. Whitmer

AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

Republican lawmakers in Michigan rejected an extension of the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration, instead voting to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s authority.

Whitmer had asked state lawmakers to extend the declaration, which expired Thursday, by 28 days.

The House instead opted to approve a lawsuit against Whitmer and a package of bills that would replace the governor's orders with laws passed through the normal legislative process.

According to House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Republicans support measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the state, just not the governor’s “unchecked and undemocratic approach.” 

“The current status quo relies on one-size-fits-all edicts that unfairly punish millions of people across the state without giving them any recourse or voice in the process," Chatfield said. "The people deserve a better solution, and we can provide it.”

Chatfield said one bill replaces nearly all of Whitmer's orders currently in effect without any loss of critical protections, including protections against price gouging and extensions of tax deadlines.

The bills include provisions for distance learning while schools are closed and a continued ban on large gatherings.

“The idea we want to put an abrupt end to the state of emergency and go back to normal immediately is a lazy political talking point,” said Chatfield. “We all agree Michigan must continue taking strong steps to fight the spread of this disease. But we can both protect the public health and protect the individual people who make up our great state."

The legislation already passed the Michigan Senate, so the bills will be forwarded to Whitmer. She has promised to veto any legislation that curtails emergency authority for herself or any future governor.

Whitmer has said that her emergency authority is not tied to State of Emergency extension, so her orders will continue based on other state laws. (ABC 12)

“By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I’m not going to let that happen.”

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday to protest, seeking a re-opening of the state. 

Chatfield said it was "very disappointing" that the governor didn't want to work with them. 

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