LaSata named to COVID-19 panel, supports measures to limit governor’s emergency powers

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Kim LaSata on Friday was appointed to the newly formed Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The bicameral, bipartisan joint select committee with subpoena power was established by the adoption of House Concurrent Resolution 20. In addition to reviewing how the state reacted to the coronavirus, the committee will also explore potential policy solutions to better prepare for any future emergencies or disasters.

“The state’s response to COVID-19 has been eye opening, in terms of the broad authority the governor has to declare emergencies and make decisions, and by how little involvement and input the Legislature and public have had on those decisions,” said LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “The Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic will work to examine the state’s response, to ensure the people have a voice in the decision-making process, and make sure our state is better prepared for future emergency situations. I look forward to serving on this important panel.”

Further information on the joint select committee is forthcoming.

The Senate also approved legislation that would rein in the extensive powers of Michigan’s governor during states of emergency or disaster.

Senate Bill 857 would repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act. The law may be interpreted to allow a governor to declare an indefinite emergency and put in place orders, rules, and regulations that have the full force of law.

SB 858 would reform the Emergency Management Act to shorten the amount of time of an emergency or disaster declaration to 14 days, rather than 28. After 14 days, the governor would need legislative approval to extend any declaration.

“COVID-19 has been devastating to our communities,” said LaSata. “One life lost is one too many, and the toll on people’s health has been great. But the governor’s unprecedented, unilateral response to the outbreak has also destroyed livelihoods and severely damaged the economy.

“The health and well-being of Southwest Michigan residents is my top priority, and throughout this crisis I have listened to my constituents, actively worked to represent them and made requests to the governor on their behalf to revise her many restrictive orders. While I appreciate the governor today is allowing landscaping crews to go back to work, I am hopeful the governor will make further revisions by listening to the voices of Southwest Michigan residents and trusting the people of Michigan to behave as safely at work as they have at home.

“Approving these bills will ensure that the people will have more of a say, and sooner, in how our state responds to future emergencies.”

SBs 857 and 858 now advance to the House of Representatives for consideration.