State Rep. Julie Alexander and the Michigan House of Representatives this morning approved Alexander’s plan to hold state government accountable to the people of Michigan when officials exercise emergency powers.
The House approved seven bills that are part of a comprehensive plan, introduced by Alexander and other legislators, to ensure accountability for broad authority used by the governor and state agencies to address emergencies. The plan would set timeframes, strengthen oversight by the Legislature, eliminate redundant laws, and remove unnecessary powers.
“Citizens participate in self-government by casting their ballots and electing representatives,” said Alexander, R-Hanover. “However, without accountability to elected lawmakers, state agencies remove key decisions further away from the people of Michigan. Emergency powers can be misused. Our plan will ensure legislative participation — to keep the people informed and involved.”
The plan would increase accountability by:
- Setting reasonable timeframes: Some bills within the package would provide a specific role for elected legislators in the exercise of emergency powers, by ending the application of certain authority after 28 days, requiring the Michigan Legislature to decide whether to extend the power in that instance. The House today approved Alexander’s House Bill 6184, which would set a time limit and allow legislative reauthorization for epidemic orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which were used quite broadly regarding COVID-19.
- Ensuring transparency: In order to ensure lawmakers overseeing state departments are aware of the use of emergency authority, other bills would simply require the executive branch to notify the Legislature in a timely manner — typically 24 hours — after some powers are exercised.
- Cleaning up the law: Additional bills in the package would repeal unnecessary or outdated emergency powers, some of which have rarely or never been used. Other statutes to be repealed are redundant, granting power also authorized elsewhere in Michigan law.
House Bills 6184, 6185, 6189, 6193, 6194, 6202, and 6204 now advance to the Senate for consideration. Other bills in the package remain under consideration by the House.
“With the first stage of the plan approved, Michigan government is well on the way toward stronger accountability to the people,” Alexander said.
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