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Whitmer, lawmakers battle over when to reopen Michigan

Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns raise questions about reopening timeline

LANSING, Mich. – While the battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) is far from over, a debate is raging in Michigan over plans to reopen the state for business.

UPDATE -- April 29, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 40,399; Death toll now at 3,670

Michigan’s state of emergency is set to end at midnight Friday. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants it extended, as do Republicans. But they also want to speed up the reopening plan.

With a day to go, it’s crunch time for lawmakers to strike a deal.

Negotiations between leadership and Whitmer to hasten the reopening plan failed. In the meantime, Whitmer followed through on opening up construction next week.

READ: How one of Michigan’s largest nonprofits is continuing to serve amid coronavirus crisis

“This Friday, I’ll be signing an executive order that will open both residential and commercial construction by May 7," Whitmer said. “We are comfortable taking this step because it is a lower risk enterprise as we’ve scored risks and developed and worked with the industry to make sure we’ve got appropriate protocols.”

Whitmer had hinted at construction opening for days.

But this is not playing well with the Republican-controlled legislature, which went into session Wednesday looking to decide whether to grant the 28-day state of emergency declaration requested by Whitmer.

MORE: Michigan announces plan to offer free college to essential workers

Legislative leaders offered her two one-week extensions in exchange for faster reopening implementation. It was a negotiation, but Whitmer wasn’t interested in participating. She slammed the legislature heartily.

“We remain in a state of emergency,” Whitmer said. “I don’t know of any other legislature in the country that is just resigning to declare that the global pandemic that killed 103 Michiganders since yesterday is over. It is not over. We remain in a state of emergency until the order is rescinded, and I do not have any intention of overextending that right now."

Whitmer is preparing for a fight with the legislature, which comes back into session Thursday. This could end up in court.


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