Will Whitmer Not Cooperate With Joint Select Committee On COVID-19?
Last week Michigan’s House of Representatives created a new joint bipartisan oversight committee that will review decision-making and preparedness from the governor and state departments in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Oversight is a very important part and duty of the House as Congresswoman Pelosi states continuously when it comes to President Trump. I would assume she believes the same when it comes to a state House and their executive.
This Joint Select Committee will be led by Marshall Republican State Representative Matt Hall. This Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic will have legislators from both parties in the House and the Senate on it and will seek legislative recommendations that better protect the people of Michigan.
Rep. Hall stated at the time the committee was created"
Legislative oversight has a crucial role within state government…It’s imperative to ensure the administration and particular departments are working as effectively and efficiently as possible for the people they represent…Government should be accountable to the people. It’s needed now more than ever because the administration has made critical, unilateral decisions during an ongoing public health emergency – decisions that are impacting nearly 10 million people who call Michigan home.
In a Gongwer article Whitmer's spokesperson stated:
As she stated earlier today, the governor is fully committed to transparency regarding the administration’s response to the COVID-19 emergency and the actions her officials took under intense pressure to save lives. While the Joint Select Committee does not have power to compel testimony under its own rules, so long as the requests are reasonable and do not interfere with the emergency response, best practices to prevent transmission are observed, and the committee does not veer into partisan attack, the governor’s department directors will do their best to accommodate requests to participate as they always do.
That appears to be quite a bit of "if's", "but's" and "I will see" if you ask me.
Rep. Hall released a statement yesterday following a letter sent to Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey concerned that:
recent media reports suggesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may direct state departments and employees within the administration to not cooperate with certain requests made by the newly formed Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic if the request doesn’t meet her personal expectations
Her expectations, what exactly does she mean by that?
Rep. Hall went on to state:
Based on the comments that were made in these reports, I felt it was necessary to send this letter to ensure the Legislature can provide proper and needed oversight during this ongoing public health emergency. As the governor said herself – transparency and accountability are important.
I have received thousands of calls and emails over the past several weeks about decisions made by the administration during the coronavirus outbreak. People are facing incredible hardship and they deserve answers from decision-makers. Filing this letter will help provide those answers.
Throughout this crisis, the House and Senate have requested information numerous times from the administration and received little in response. It is imperative that requests for information that the committee sends are taken seriously and responded to promptly. Not for political points or partisan gamesmanship, but for the people we represent.
State Rep. Hall and the rest of the House and Senate have one large problem. Governor Whitmer has declared them useless during this time when she allegedly illegally declared her word is supreme during her declared emergency declaration. She did this last week when the House and Senate did not extend her emergency declaration and she still went ahead and effectively said I am extending my total power over this state, sue me.
We will see if the courts agree with her belief that any Governor of Michigan can declare an emergency declaration on day one of their administration and keep it in place for their entire 4-year reign as she believes the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 grants her to do so. Or the courts agree that the state House and Senate must vote on an extension of an emergency declaration after the first 28 days as The Emergency Management Act of 1976 states.
Until then according to Whitmer the Michigan State House and Senate are no longer needed.