Michigan ballot initiative targeting emergency epidemic orders won’t meet deadline

Unlock Michigan petition stalls after split vote

The group organizing a Michigan ballot drive that aimed to curb emergency epidemic powers in the state says they won’t be submitting signatures ahead of the deadline this week.

“Unlock Michigan 2.0″ was hoping to add language to state health laws that restrict state and local health officers’ ability to issue emergency orders related to an epidemic, or a public health crisis.

Ahead of the deadline to submit signatures this week, the group says it won’t meet the date and will instead focus on making changes through the state’s Legislature. The group claims they have enough signatures, but not enough to “withstand the expected challenge” by canvassers.

Proposed revisions included adding language that says statewide emergency epidemic orders can only last for 28 days from when they are issued, and automatically become unenforceable once those days are up. The health department would be able to request an extension of the order, but that extension would have to be “approved by resolution of both houses of the legislature,” the proposal reads.

The state health director would also be prohibited from issuing a consecutive emergency epidemic order to begin once the first one has been rescinded. This is only if the order is related to the same epidemic -- which, in the span of one month, it likely would be. To issue a second order, the director would have to get approval from the legislature.

The Unlock Michigan initiative was launched in response to how Michigan leaders addressed the coronavirus pandemic.

Supporters argue that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state and local health officials did not and do not have the authority to issue widespread mandates and closures, despite the public health crisis. (Read more here)

About the Authors:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.