Protesters gathered outside Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s residence Friday as the Republican-dominated state legislature met to discuss placing limits on her emergency powers to continue statewide shutdowns, Fox News reported.
Several dozen protesters demonstrated outside Whitmer’s home with signs asking her to reopen the state. The event was called “Operation Queen’s Castle,” and an image of the governor wearing a crown was on bold display.
Protesters and a growing number of state legislators seemed to agree that Whitmer has been abusing her authority by shutting down non-essential businesses and limiting travel, even between two residences owned by the same person. They have also expressed opposition to arbitrary distinctions within her shutdown orders, such as declaring seeds and plant sales as non-essential and preventing big box stores from selling home improvement products, according to National Review.
Legislators convened Friday to form a committee to review Whitmer’s response to the pandemic and to consider two bills that would revoke or limit her emergency powers to enact shutdowns. Whitmer has said she will veto any legislation that limits executive power, according to Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV.
Stay-at-home order extended
Whitmer announced an extended but modified stay-at-home order lasting until May 15, Fox News reported. She eased the existing restriction on traveling between two residences within the state that had been widely criticized as overly strict, but her latest order now requires all citizens to wear masks in enclosed public spaces, according to Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK.
Whitmer’s order allows landscapers, lawn service companies, and bike repair shops to reopen if employees and customers follow social distancing guidelines, and retail locations selling non-essential items will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery, according to WJBK.
“This is one of what will be many waves,” Whitmer said in announcing the changes. “My hope is that we can contemplate the next one. But it all depends on if people observe these best practices, if we can keep the COVID-19 trajectory headed downward and if we can keep people safe.”
Legislature eyes reopening
The state’s legislature disagrees with the pace of reopening set by Whitmer and wants to speed things along as much as circumstances permit.
“It’s possible to be concerned about public health, the economy and personal liberty all at the same time. It’s a false narrative that you must choose between them. I choose all three,” Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield tweeted. “We can take COVID-19 seriously yet be reasonable in our fight. Michigan needs a change ASAP.”
While the legislature is unlikely to be able to override Whitmer’s veto and take control in order to end the shutdowns, it may be able to enact change through its oversight authority in other ways, the Detroit Free Press suggested.
Whitmer deems abortion essential
Another big sticking point between Whitmer and conservatives is that she included abortions as essential medical care while ordering hospitals to cancel other so-called elective procedures.
In a statement, Whitmer called abortions “life-sustaining,” according to National Review, which is ironic because the procedure literally ends the life of an unborn child. It’s surely moves like these that put Whitmer at odds with Republicans all over Michigan and show that she is truly out of touch with countless citizens of her state.