Sen. Ruth Johnson defends the Legislature’s role, supports continued COVID-19 protections

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson on Thursday supported the Legislature’s decision to not extend Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s current state of emergency, while encouraging continued efforts to combat COVID-19 in the state.

“We need to restore representative government,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “The current COVID-19 situation is serious, and we must protect the health of residents throughout our state, but it does not justify the governor assuming absolute power indefinitely. That is not democracy.

“Elected legislators cannot be sidelined. We must restore checks and balances for the people and restore their voice in the Capitol.”

The Senate approved Senate Resolution 114 to allow the body to challenge in court any executive actions taken by the governor after the Legislature’s state of emergency extension expires on May 1.

The Senate also sent the governor legislation to put several COVID-19 executive orders into law and extend those that need to continue to help fight the virus and deal with its impacts. Among the 28 orders included in Senate Bill 858 are those regarding expanded unemployment benefits, distance learning for schools, and liability protections for health care workers treating patients in innovative ways.

The bill does not include or extend the governor’s stay-at-home order.

“We are continuing important protections and ensuring that Michigan residents and their Legislature, not just the governor, will have a say in the state’s actions,” Johnson said. “People deserve to have their voices heard through their elected representatives.

“Although we did not extend the governor’s state of emergency or her stay-at-home executive order, I strongly encourage people to continue to use masks and practice social distancing as we work together to protect our families and each other.”

Johnson pointed to continued issues with the processing of unemployment benefits as an area where she feels additional legislative oversight is needed.

“We have people who filed over a month ago and they still have not received their benefits. It is one of numerous ways that the governor’s unchecked actions have impacted real people,” Johnson said. “We’ve heard from many residents who can’t afford to pay their rent, their mortgage or car payment. This needs to be addressed immediately.”

###