The Michigan House this morning approved a plan sponsored by state Rep. David Martin to make state government more accountable to Michigan citizens when emergency powers are exercised.
Martin, of Davison, is sponsoring part of the comprehensive bipartisan plan to improve upon existing state laws that provide the governor and state department heads increased authority during emergency situations. These emergency powers were used more broadly than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martin said the plan makes carefully considered changes to add transparency and ensure the people of Michigan are represented in the decisions being made at the state level.
“Emergency powers are necessary to keep people safe and healthy during urgent situations – but we must make absolutely sure they are used the right way,” Martin said. “The way these powers were used by the governor over the last few years taught us a lot. It’s important to take the lessons we learned and apply them to improve our laws moving forward. These bills create the transparency and accountability that was missing during the pandemic.”
Part of the plan ends the application of certain administrative authorities after 28 days, at which point the Michigan Legislature would decide whether circumstances warrant the extension of the emergency powers. The changes are modeled after one of the state’s most prominent emergency powers laws, the Emergency Management Act, which allows the governor to declare a state of emergency or disaster and issue orders for a period of 28 days, after which the Legislature may approve an extension.
A handful of bills in the package would repeal unnecessary or outdated emergency powers, some of which have seldom or never been used.
To ensure legislators are aware of the use of emergency authority, other bills would simply require the executive branch to notify the Legislature in a timely manner — typically 24 hours — after some powers are exercised.
Specifically, the measure Martin introduced, House Bill 6202, ensures the Legislature is notified within 24 hours if a governor declares an energy emergency.
The first portion of the bipartisan plan, contained in House Bills 6184-85, 6189, 6193-94, 6202 and 6204, was approved by the House today. Other pieces of the 31-bill package await further consideration in the House.