There is joy in the business world following the Michigan Supreme Court decision Friday afternoon that ruled Governor Whitmer does not possess the authority to exercise emergency powers under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 because that act is unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch. That word from one of the state’s leading small business organizations, the National Federation of Independent Business, or simply NFIB.
The organization issued praise for the ruling shortly after the news was released, with NFIB State Director Charlie Owens saying, “The Supreme Court has affirmed what many have been saying since day one of the governor’s endless state of emergency, that the balance of power in governance of our state is one of the hallmarks of our system of representative government and must be respected.” Owens stepped up his criticism saying, “Without any restraint from the legislature, this governor has issued almost two hundred executive orders that have often been arbitrary, conflicting, and difficult to implement for Michigan small business. As a result, Michigan is struggling to restart our economy and allow small business to reengage in commerce and bring back jobs for our citizens.”
The high Court also found that Whitmer did not possess the authority under the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to declare states of emergency and disaster as it relates to the new coronavirus pandemic after the legislature refused to renew the state of emergency on April 30.
Owens says it remains to be seen how the court’s decision will impact the “Unlock Michigan” ballot initiative to repeal the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, noting, “Although the Act has been declared unconstitutional, a future appeal or court case might result in a different decision if it is left on the books,” and adds, “I am sure the lawyers will need to sort through this, but in my mind, it would drive a stake through its heart if it were also repealed.”
Owens added that the governor would still have the necessary powers to declare an emergency under the 1976 Emergency Management Act, but that law would require approval from the legislature every 28 days to extend a “state of emergency.”
Owens tells us that a recent survey of NFIB small business owners reflected the concerns small businesses have with the use of emergency powers in handling the COVID-19 outbreak. When asked if the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 should be repealed, 74-percent of small business members said Yes, 16-percent said No, and 10-percent were Undecided.
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, you can visit online at: http://nfib.com