Michigan Senate and House approve extension of governor's emergency declaration by 23 days

The Michigan State Senate and House voted to approve an extension on the governor's state of emergency declaration for another 23 days. 

After a weekend of consternation between the governor and GOP leaders over the length of the extension, as well as the necessity to vote in-person at the capital, lawmakers on Tuesday voted to continue Gretchen Whitmer's declaration until April 30. 

After initially ordering the state of emergency on March 10, Whitmer has enacted more than 30 executive orders under her emergency powers aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Prior to the extension, the state of emergency was scheduled to end April 7.

Whitmer had originally called for a 70-day extension onto her state of emergency. However, the Republican-controlled Senate opted for a shorter timeframe. The Senate approved the resolution around 10 a.m. with the House following around 1 p.m.

Over the weekend, House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Democratic Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) exchanged letters debating the necessity for lawmakers to attend a special session in the legislature to vote on the measure. Several Democratic lawmakers, including many representing Detroit, said opposed the vote due to the possibility of COVID-19 transmission.

However, Chatfield responded that several protocols had been put in place to avoid any chance of further exposure. Temporary rules included screening lawmakers as the entered the building, limiting the number of lawmakers entering at one time, and maintaining social distancing rules recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prior to the vote, there was even confusion over when Whitmer's order officially ended. After issuing a disaster declaration last week, Whitmer claimed the clock on her emergency powers was reset. 

The governor has issued over 30 executive orders since the first declaration was made. Under those powers, she's closed non-essential businesses, lifted weight restrictions on vehicles and ended the school year early.