Zorn supports increased legislative oversight of emergency powers

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Friday supported measures to increase legislative oversight of the governor’s extraordinary powers during a state of emergency and create a new bipartisan COVID-19 panel.

“The founding idea of a government for the people and by the people should not be tossed aside lightly, even in cases of a public health emergency,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I supported this legislation to give the Michigan people more input into the governor’s use of emergency powers that limit their freedom and affect their lives.

“Emergency actions were necessary to protect the public when the coronavirus came to Michigan. This reform is about speeding up the process for ensuring that elected officials listen to the people and work together to both address the crisis and, when appropriate, enable people to live their lives.”

Senate Bill 857 would repeal the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which does not require legislative input on executive actions, and SB 858 would amend the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to only allow declarations of disaster or emergency to last 14 days before requiring legislative approval, instead of 28 days.

The Legislature also approved House Concurrent Resolution 20 to create the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“To make sure we learn how to better protect people’s lives and liberty against future outbreaks, this bipartisan panel will review the state’s COVID-19 preparations and responses,” Zorn said.

The Senate actions came on the same day the governor announced a new executive order extending her stay-at-home order until May 15 while lifting some restrictions on outdoor activities, allowing some workers to go back to work, and ordering people to wear masks in public enclosed places.

“I’m disappointed the governor continues to fail to listen to Michigan families and job creators about how we can allow more workers to safely return to work,” Zorn said. “Her order is a small step in the right direction by remove restrictions on some workers, but much more can and should be done to let people to provide for their families while still protecting the public.

“One example of critical changes needed to the governor’s orders is allowing our hospitals and health care facilities to reopen and be fully staffed. Many Michigan patients are currently being denied medical services, such as catheterizations and even cancer treatments.”