LANSING, Mich. - The state GOP is making several competing moves against the governor as it seeks to gain leverage in Lansing as the lawmakers and Gretchen Whitmer look forward to another contentious year of politics at the Michigan capital.
The same day that Whitmer was scheduled to deliver her annual address that provides an assessment of the state, Republicans unrolled a competing Covid recovery plan, introduced a resolution advocating for the reopening of contact high school sports, and blocked 13 of her appointments to a variety of boards.
Republican leadership held a press conference Thursday where the Republican Speaker Jason Wentworth commended Whitmer on her calls for unity, but was still waiting for more bipartisan action from the governor.
Both Wentworth and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey were critical of the capacity limits set at restaurants and argued that a ban on highschool sports should be lifted.
Wentworth even predicted some restaurants would choose to not reopen doors at all since the capacity limit was so low.
Embedded in the Republicans COVID-19 Recovery plan is a contingency that forces Whitmer to relinquish authority over canceling and restarting in-person learning. The GOP's plan advocates for letting local health departments and districts making the decision instead of the executive branch.
If the request isn't accepted, then already approved federal funds equaling $2.1 billion for education would be blocked.
Then, later on Wednesday, state Sen. Dale Zorn introduced a resolution that called on the state to 'Let them play' as frustration from some parents over a continued ban on contact winter sports in high schools.
Whitmer has given the green light to many industries but maintained a suspension on sports because of the threat of a more contagious strain from the UK and a more deadly strain from Brazil, both that have been discovered in the U.S. recently.
The UK strain has been identified in 17 people in Michigan and forced Washtenaw County to administer a stay home order for students on the University of Michigan's campus.
Wednesday afternoon, the state Senate rejected 13 appointments to a number of different advisory boards in the state. The vote, 19-14, was delivered along party lines. The mass reason for the rejection by Republicans wasn't entirely clear. One senator did indicate frustration over vetoes and the shut down of the government.
"We will use the tools that we have without explanation," said state Sen. Ken Horn, a Republican from Frankenmuth.
"That was not to score political points, but to make a point," said Shirkey on Thursday.
Whitmer tacitly acknowledged the competing party during her State of the State address, offering an olive branch and hope to meet in the middle as the state. But in a conversation with media Thursday, she described the moves by the party as "cruel and reckless."