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Republicans Vow to Cut Gov. Whitmer’s Emergency Powers

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer | Republicans Vow to Cut Gov. Whitmer's Emergency Powers | Featured

LANSING — Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature said they will meet Friday to pass bills to rein in the emergency powers of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and create a committee to oversee the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, a dramatic strike against the Democrat amid the health crisis.

A spokeswoman for Whitmer promised a veto and said Republicans were “playing dangerous partisan games” while the governor is focused on saving lives and controlling the spread of the virus.

Republicans are unhappy with the breadth of Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, though polling shows the public believes she made the right calls. She is expected to extend it past April 30 but with modifications.

“Lives have unfortunately been lost in our state. Many people are suffering. Livelihoods have been destroyed, and many freedoms are gone. Frankly, we deserve better,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield said on social media.

The flap could explode into a legal fight because one state law gives the governor broad authority to unilaterally declare an emergency, while another one requires input from the Legislature. In issuing her stay-home orders, Whitmer has cited both laws.

The governor “will not sign a bill that would diminish her ability to protect citizens of this state from a deadly disease that has already killed thousands of people in Michigan,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said.

Fewer Patients


A major health care provider in southeastern Michigan said the number of COVID-19 patients had dropped below 500 this week for the first time in nearly a month.

Henry Ford Health System reported 490 patients Thursday morning at five hospitals. It had 426 patients on March 28 and 752 at the peak on April 7.

COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Beaumont Health has also reported a significant drop in patients at its Detroit-area hospitals.

The number of confirmed cases statewide rose 4% to nearly 35,300. Deaths rose by 164 to 2,977, although 55 reported Thursday could have occurred days or weeks ago.

Jobless Aid

Michigan had 134,000 new filings for unemployment aid last week, raising the number of initial claims to nearly 1.2 million over five weeks. It’s the equivalent of 25% unemployment, although not everyone will qualify for benefits.

More than $1.3 billion has been paid to 820,000 people so far, the state said.

No Trials

The Michigan Supreme Court suspended all jury trials in the state until June 22. It also told the state court administrator to explore ways to hold remote trials.

“To our knowledge, no judge in the country has ever presided over a remote jury trial, and these pilots will help us define what ‘remote jury trial’ means in practice,” administrator Tom Boyd said in a memo.

Border Bust

A Canadian nurse allowed to cross the border to work in Michigan was busted with 153 pounds (69 kilograms) of marijuana in the trunk of her car, authorities said.

Terri Maxwell, 48, was arrested Wednesday at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. The U.S.-Canada border is restricted to health care workers, commercial trucks and travelers deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Smuggling in marijuana simply isn’t essential,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said.

Maxwell was due in court Thursday.

___

White reported from Detroit.

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