A petition drive in Michigan seeking to repeal a law that underpins many of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictive COVID-19 executive orders has enough valid signatures to proceed up the chain that leads to the state Legislature, documents show.
The conservative-led initiative, called Unlock Michigan, needed 340,047 signatures to obtain certification from the state’s Bureau of Elections, a necessary precondition to send the matter to the state’s Republican-led Legislature. An April 19 staff report from the Michigan Secretary of State’s office (pdf) estimated at a 100 percent confidence level that the petition drive had amassed 460,358 valid signatures out of a total filing that contained just over 538,000 signatures. The document also features a recommendation that the petition be certified.
The staff report is a precursor to a meeting of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which is composed of two Democrats and two Republicans and will convene April 22 (pdf) to consider whether the petition filed by Unlock Michigan is satisfactory.
Michigan Republicans have argued that Whitmer’s lockdowns damaged the economy and the livelihood of residents. Unlock Michigan spokesman Fred Wszolek hailed the report’s recommendation in a tweet.
“The MI Bureau of Elections recommends that the #UnlockMichigan petition be certified. With over 460,000 VALID signatures, it’s not even a close call…. @GovWhitmer maybe now you’ll try working WITH the legislature, instead of governing by decree?” Wszolek wrote.
Whitmer has signed nearly 130 executive orders since May 2020, imposing a bevy of COVID-19 restrictions that opponents have called both onerous and arbitrary, initially relying on a 1976 emergency powers law and later pivoting to an archaic 1945 Emergency Powers of Governor Act to undergird her actions. The governor has repeatedly insisted the measures were necessary to protect Michiganders from the outbreak.
India now faces a coronavirus “storm” overwhelming its health system, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national address on Tuesday, adding that authorities were working with states and private firms to deliver oxygen with speed.
Authorities in Maharashtra, which is already under partial lockdown, late on Wednesday ordered additional restrictions on the movement of people within the city and state until May 1 to curb the virus spread.
The order said all offices, except those providing essential services, must operate with 15 percent staff. Travel by private vehicles is permitted only for medical emergencies, and only medical workers and government employees may ride the normally popular train system.
India, the world’s second-most populous nation reported 295,041 new virus infections on Wednesday, stretching its hospitals to breaking point, officials said.
India’s 2,023 deaths were also its highest in the pandemic.