by Scott McClallen
The GOP-dominated Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
At issue is a possible attempt by the governor to unilaterally spend nearly a million dollars attached to a bill she vetoed this week.
Senate Resolution 26 reads: “Any attempt by Governor Whitmer to expend moneys that she vetoed without further legislative approval or expend certain funds without the enactment of Senate Bill No. 1 or House Bill No. 4049 would be contrary to both law and Michigan’s constitutional system.”
On Tuesday, Whitmer vetoed HB 4049, which included $840.7 million of school district funding. The proposed legislation was tied to prohibiting the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) from closing schools to in-person instruction as well as banning school sports under COVID-19 epidemic orders.
“House Bill 4049 is a reckless idea, poorly executed and poorly timed,” Whitmer wrote in a letter explaining her veto.
Whitmer is exploring the legality of whether she can unilaterally disburse that money.
In a floor speech, Shirkey said Michiganders want Whitmer to lift COVID-19 restrictions.
“The people of Michigan know what to do. They know what to do. They’re just waiting to be informed, inspired, encouraged and then trusted,” Shirkey said. “Right now, we’re still under an environment where this governor does not trust the citizens of Michigan to do the right thing.”
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said the resolution continues Republicans’ “campaign against the governor.” Ananich unsuccessfully proposed an unsuccessful amendment to limit legal costs related to a potential lawsuit to $10,000.
“Enriching lawyers because you are unwilling to negotiate with the governor is plain ridiculous,” Ananich said. “It is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
If the lawsuit is filed, it’ll be the second between the legislature and Whitmer in the last year.
On Oct. 2, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Whitmer violated her constitutional authority by continuing executive orders to combat COVID-19 without legislative approval.
The top court tossed Whitmer’s COVID-19 orders issued after April 30, and advised her to work with the legislature. Instead, Whitmer tapped decades-old pandemic powers through the MDHHS to patch together similar orders.
“Whereas, Members of the Michigan Senate must defend the Legislature’s role to appropriate moneys and as a co-equal branch of government in Michigan’s constitutional system,” the resolution said.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.