Despite protests by hundreds of Michiganders at the state capitol Thursday and efforts by the Republican-controlled House and Senate to stop her, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed three new executive orders extending the state's emergency and disaster declarations through May 28, saying scientific data shows the state isn't out of the woods yet.
"You can't put a hard and fast timeline because a lot of this depends on human behavior and our ability to observe these best practices," the governor said during an interview.
Some residents see it as government overreach and a power grab.
"I've had enough of being told what I can and cannot do. I've had enough of worrying about bills and making money," said Janine Pristley who showed up at the capitol Thursday to protest the governor.
Protesters rally at the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., April 30, 2020. Hoisting American flags and signs, protesters denounced Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-home order and business restrictions due to COVID-19 (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
"No one, especially a politician, has the right to devalue an individual by labeling them non-essential," argued Gregory Creswell, a Detroit resident who also showed up to protest.
There were tense moments.
State Senator Dayna Polehanki tweeting, "Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bulletproof vests are wearing them."
Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg pic.twitter.com/voOZpPYWOs
— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) April 30, 2020
Michigan has been hit hard. According to the latest CDC numbers it has registered more than 40,000 cases and suffered nearly 3,700 deaths, but not everyone buys the numbers.
"I do think that we have a virus, but I do think that the numbers are inflated. I think it's all political," said one protester.
Republicans who control the legislature think the governor is overstepping her authority.
"At this point in the COVID crisis what can the governor accomplish alone that she can't do together with the leadership of the House and the Senate?" asked state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis speaking from the House floor.
The state House passed a resolution authorizing the speaker to take legal action against the governor for her actions during the pandemic.
She's already facing a number of lawsuits, including one by five businesses arguing her pandemic-related executive orders have "Shuttered civil society, placed 10 million people under house arrest and taken jobs away from nearly 1.2 million people, all without due process of law."
"My husband is an electrician and he cannot go back to work supposedly until May 7th as long as that goes through, but he can go out on a golf course as of today. I don't think it's fair to start making those provisions," said one woman protesting at the capitol.
"It is very important that we as Americans stand up for our Constitution and for our civil liberties because, as we know, the government continues to take and take," said Michael Farage, an organizer with American Patriot Rally.
Gov. Whitmer says she hopes to reopen certain sectors of the economy in the days ahead, but for now, she faces a political and legal battle over government power.
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