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More than 400,000 Michigan residents have signed a petition that would trigger a statewide referendum on lockdown-loving Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s draconian emergency powers provided that state authorities determine that at least 340,000 of the signatures turn out to be legitimate.
During the pandemic, Gov. Whitmer has relied on a 1945 law to enforce open-ended COVID-related restrictions, and the referendum outcome could mean the repeal of that mandate.
Under a quirk in Michigan law as compared to referenda rules in effect in other states, however, voters may not need to wait until 2022 to vote on the measure, however.
“If at least 340,000 signatures are deemed valid by the state elections board, the GOP-controlled Legislature would likely repeal the 1945 law rather than let it go to a 2022 public vote. The Democratic governor could not veto the initiated bill. A 1976 law, which requires legislative approval to extend a state of emergency, would remain intact,” the Associated Press explained.
“No one should think that allowing a politician to have unlimited power for an unlimited duration is a good idea,” a spokesman for Unlock Michigan, the group organizing the petition drive, said. The organization plans to submit the entire collection of signatures this month and anticipates that Michigan authorities could sort through them in the verification process within a 2-1/2 period. At that point, the potential repeal could be added to the legislative agenda rather than placing on a future ballot.
Common sense suggests that left-wing activists and Whitmer partisans will also comb through the list in attempt to disqualify as many signees as possible for various reasons, although advocates going in obviously have about a 60,000 cushion.
On its website, Unlock Michigan declares that “Since March 23rd, Michigan has been under one of the strictest lockdowns of the country due to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s abuse of power and the use of an outdated, World War II-era law. Using this obscure, antiquated law, Governor Whitmer has issued a blizzard of over 100 executive decrees, with no accountability to your elected representatives, no public input – and no end in sight.”
Last month, Gov. Whitmer — who obviously opposes the referendum drive — won a victory in the state appeals court, which ruled in a 2-1 decision that the 1945 law (rather than the 1976 statute, which requires legislative approval for any emergency declaration lasting longer than 28 days) applies. In essence, the court seemed to be saying the coronavirus emergency isn’t over until Whitmer says it’s over. The case is on appeal to the state supreme court.
Whitmer, who issued face mask and social distancing orders, limited gatherings, and shut down businesses and schools for many months (and may or may not have succeeded in cancelling Big 10 football this season), was on the Joe Biden’s short list for vice president.
As Biden’s would-be running mate, she likely would have continued to denounce President Trump’s southern border wall. News broke last week that Whitmer has, however, authorized construction of an eight-foot electrified fence around the governor’s mansion in Lansing as part of a $1.1 million security upgrade.
In June 2020, Gov. Whitmer — a strident critic of grassroots anti-lockdown demonstrations as well as a vocal foe of the president — abandoned her own stay-at-home order to march with protesters in the aftermath of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis police custody.
President Trump has called upon Whitmer to fully open the state.
Gov. Whitmer has also declared that racism is a public health crisis.