SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - Unlock Michigan, the group that has spent the past few months gathering signatures to support an effort to revoke Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency powers, says it has collected more than the required signatures to get the issue in front of legislatures in Lansing.
Unlock Michigan announced on Wednesday that it has exceeded the goal of collecting 500,000 signatures to submit the issue to the Bureau of Elections.
We've succeeded in collecting more than a half-million signatures from Michigan voters in fewer than 80 days, an historic accomplishment at a pivotal point in Michigan's history," said Unlock Michigan co-Chair Ron Armstrong. "This initiative isn't about any one rule, or any one personality. This proposed law simply takes away the ability of a single politician to rule like a monarch for as long as they like. That's a power no politician of any party should ever have."
Unlock Michigan said it would submit the ballots to the Bureau of Elections 'soon' for review of the signatures and ensure it reaches the minimum requirement of 340,000 lawful signatures.
The Bureau of Elections will then review the signatures to ensure enough have been collected.
If at least 340,000 signatures are deemed valid by the state elections board, the GOP-controlled Legislature would likely repeal the 1945 law rather than let it go to a 2022 public vote.
Unlock Michigan has said that the Bureau of Elections should be able to review and confirm there are enough signatures within 75 days and get the issue in front of lawmakers by December.
Whitmer has used the 1945 law as the underpinning for far-reaching orders to close businesses and schools, require masks and social distancing, and limit gathering sizes to control the virus that has contributed to 6,900 deaths across the state.
The public supports her handling of the pandemic, according to polling, and disapproves of how Trump has managed the crisis. The two have sparred several times. At a large campaign rally outside Saginaw on Thursday, Trump told Whitmer to "open up your state" said Michigan would be better off if it had a governor "who knew what the hell she was doing" -- hours after she called him the "biggest threat" to Americans for purposely downplaying COVID-19.
Republican lawmakers initially agreed to lengthen a state of emergency through April but balked at extending the declaration again without the governor agreeing that all future stay-at-home measures would be enacted with bipartisan legislation. The Legislature sued in May, when its GOP leaders also began supporting a veto-proof initiative in case they lose in court.
Whitmer won in the Court of Claims and the Court of Appeals. The case is pending in the state Supreme Court.
She is urging people not to sign the petition. She said it would jeopardize Michigan's progress. The state's per-capita rate of new cases over the last two weeks ranks lower than 36 states. She has let schools and many businesses reopen since the curve was flattened, subject to safety rules.
"These are authorities that we have conferred upon our chief executive in extraordinary circumstances to keep people safe," she said. "Each governor since 1945 has had these same powers, and I'm going to fight to make sure that every governor after me has these powers if, God forbid, they find themselves in a situation where they have to be used."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.