State Rep. David Martin today joined a bipartisan coalition of state legislators to introduce a comprehensive plan to keep state government accountable to Michigan citizens when emergency powers are exercised.
Various state laws provide the governor and state department heads increased authority to address urgent situations — often when the health or safety of residents is at risk. These emergency powers were used more broadly than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martin said the wide-ranging, 31-bill package introduced today makes carefully considered changes to state law to add transparency and ensure the people of Michigan are represented in the decisions being made at the state level.
“When an emergency first arises, it’s common sense to have someone in place with the authority to take immediate action to protect Michigan families,” said Martin, of Davison. “However, if that emergency situation drags on for months, or years, the state’s continued response should be deliberated in a transparent manner through the legislative process, through which the voices of people all throughout our state are considered.”
Part of the plan ends the application of certain administrative authorities after 28 days, at which point the Michigan Legislature would decide whether circumstances warrant the extension of the emergency powers. The changes are modeled after one of the state’s most prominent emergency powers laws, the Emergency Management Act, which allows the governor to declare a state of emergency or disaster and issue orders for a period of 28 days, after which the Legislature may approve an extension.
To ensure legislators 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.
Specifically, the measure Martin introduced, House Bill 6202, ensures the Legislature is notified within 24 hours if a governor declares an energy emergency.
A handful of bills in the package would repeal unnecessary or outdated emergency powers, some of which have seldom or never been used. Other statutes to be repealed are redundant, granting emergency authority also provided in the Administrative Procedures Act or elsewhere in Michigan law.
The bipartisan plan, contained in House Bills 6184-6214, was referred to the House Oversight Committee for consideration.