LANSING—Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The legislative leaders filed suit this morning in the Michigan Court of Claims against Gov. Whitmer for her failure to comply with existing state law and for her disregard of the Michigan Constitution.
“The Legislature did not approve an extension of the state emergency declaration and as such we expected the declaration to end. Instead, we saw the governor ignore the law, unilaterally extend the emergency, and write new executive orders. If left unchecked, the governor could extend her authority indefinitely. Michigan citizens cannot wait that long for a path forward to regain their lives and their livelihoods,” said Shirkey.
“We all know strong action is required to combat COVID-19 and keep our communities safe,” said Chatfield. “But the one-size-fits-all actions the governor has taken simply haven’t been good enough. Local communities have been devastated even in areas where the virus has hardly made an appearance. Thousands of small family businesses have been shut down unnecessarily and with no benefit to the public health. And access to healthcare has been shut off for millions of people who cannot afford to wait any longer. The people we represent need a better plan, and we want to work with the governor to help her do better.
“We extended our hand to the governor last week and offered several times to work with her to improve the state’s response and improve the status quo that is hurting so many people. She rejected that offer and chose to go it alone, in a way that is against the law. We have to stand up for the people we represent, their concerns and their legal rights. This lawsuit will bring everyone back to the table and ensure a better, bipartisan solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Michigan was under a legislative-approved emergency declaration through April 30, 2020 based on the approval of Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 on April 7, 2020. With the emergency declaration set to expire on April 30, the Legislature chose not to extend and instead passed legislation to place into law a series of policies outlined in several executive orders.
Senate Bill 858 would have placed into law several measures, including the current extension of unemployment benefits, liability protection for health care workers, and the ability for schools to continue distance learning programs. The governor vetoed the bill earlier this week.
The Senate and House have jointly retained Bush Seyferth PLLC to represent the Legislature in the lawsuit.
“We firmly believe the governor is acting beyond her authority and has left us no choice other than to seek clarification from the courts,” said Shirkey.
**Note: Lawsuit filing and documents attached to this release.