News & Politics

Michigan's Gov. Whitmer Faces Legislature and Citizens Revolt

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks with reporters, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, at her office in Lansing, Mich., about delivering the Democratic response tonight to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. She says she will focus on "dinner-table issues" such as infrastructure, jobs and health care. (AP Photo/David Eggert)

Protests are one thing, a special session of the legislature is another. Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer faces both now that the lege is set to meet and discuss her coronavirus power grabs.

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, explained the point of Friday’s planned session in a Twitter message.

“The House & Senate will convene tomorrow to create a special oversight committee on COVID-19 to examine our government’s response,” he wrote. “Michigan needs to handle this pandemic seriously yet properly. It’s what the people deserve, and we will see that it happens.”

In another tweet, Chatfield noted that marijuana, lottery tickets and alcohol had been declared “essential,” while lawn care, construction and fishing in a motorized boat had been declared nonessential amid the outbreak.

Republicans control Michigan’s legislature and plan to pass several bills to limit Whitmer’s power. Whitmer is a Democrat and says she’ll veto them in the name of “safety.”

But is safety really the issue here? Michigan’s COVID-19 caseload outside Wayne County (Detroit) is not large relative to its population and a case can be made for treating the Upper Peninsula very differently from the large cities. Whitmer’s orders are arbitrary and nakedly political, at least regarding her abortion edict. She responded to early resistance with a threat to make everything worse that carried more than a whiff of a Soviet decree. And just today, she has extended the stay-at-home order through May 15. At the same time she is lifting her ban on motorized boating — which never made any sense in the first place and sparked a prosecutor to take up his own low-grade revolt plus a motorboat fishing protest.

The governor’s ban sparked a protest in Baraga County over the weekend. Dozens of people fished out of motorboats at the Baraga Marina on Sunday, despite cold weather, Upper Michigan Source reports. Protesters argued that it is possible to fish out of a motorboat and abide social distancing guidelines. Plus, with many people not working, fishing is a recreational activity that will keep them busy.

And people can also catch fish to feed their families. They could also grow gardens, but Whitmer had banned stores from selling seeds.

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