Zorn signs letter urging rejection of DHHS Director Hertel appointment

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday signed onto a letter urging the Senate Advice and Consent Committee to unfavorably report Elizabeth Hertel’s appointment as director of the Department of Health and Human Services and for the full Senate to then reject her appointment.

“When former Director Gordon stepped down in January, I was hopeful the new director would provide our state with better solutions and be open and transparent with the Legislature and the Michigan people,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “In both her actions as director and her comments to the committee, she has failed to meet those goals. She extended the severe restrictions on restaurants and small businesses without sharing the data behind the orders, and it turns out she apparently didn’t even know the reasoning behind limiting indoor dining in restaurants to 25% capacity.

“For those reasons and more, I oppose her appointment as the state’s health director.”

The letter was signed by six senators and 25 House members and says that “perhaps the most concerning piece of testimony is Director Hertel’s absurd and blatantly unconstitutional belief that her authority to micromanage our lives and our livelihoods could last, as she admitted upon questioning, ‘forever.’… It is deeply troubling that an unelected appointee could issue sweeping orders to close businesses and schools or limit gathering sizes — effectively exercising legislative powers — unilaterally and indefinitely. Any unelected official who believes they have the authority to bypass another branch of government completely is unacceptable as a department director.”

The letter also mentions that “Hertel assured the committee that she makes the ultimate decision on the epidemic orders, as stipulated in the cited statute. However, she said she did not know the metrics used to determine the 25% capacity limit for indoor dining, as that restriction was merely duplicated from Director Gordon’s previous order and she was not involved in that discussion.”

“In the end, the Michigan people need a health director who will protect and serve them, respect our co-equal, separate branches of government, understand the effect of her actions, and be able to share with the people the data and reasoning behind her decisions,” Zorn said.