The Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, based in Lansing, has announced it supports the “Unlock Michigan” ballot initiative that would repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945.
The business group says Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been using the law to continue the state of emergency and issue executive orders linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization says that with enough signatures (more than 340,000) and verification from the Michigan Bureau of Elections, the legislature can approve the initiative with a simple majority vote without Whitmer’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,” says Charlie Owens, state director for NFIB. “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 100 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, which requires approval from the legislature every 28 days to extend a state of emergency.
A recent survey of NFIB small-business owners showed that 74 percent are in favor of repealing the 1945 act, 16 percent said they are not, and 10 percent 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“The Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 is an outdated law that was passed to address instances of rioting and acts of violence that were of concern toward the end of World War II,” Owens says. “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.”
Unlock Michigan is based in Okemos, Mich.
“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,” says Fred Wszolek, spokesperson for Unlock Michigan. “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.”
NFIB advocates on behalf of the country’s small and independent business owners. It has a presence in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. It has existed for more than 75 years.