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Petition seeking repeal of Michigan emergency powers law stalls before state canvass board

The law had been used to justify Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 orders.

Updated: April 22, 2021 - 3:22pm

A petition seeking the repeal of a 76-year-old Michigan emergency powers law stalled before a state board on Thursday, throwing into doubt whether the measure will advance to the legislature to be enacted by state Republicans. 

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 along party lines on whether to certify the more than 500,000 signatures obtained by the group Unlock Michigan to repeal the state's 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act. 

The law, which Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used to justify her state's hardline COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, was ruled unconstitutional in October 2020 by the state Supreme Court. Whitmer responded by shifting her COVID orders to the auspices of the state health code. 

Though it has been ruled unlawful by the state high court, Unlock Michigan is still seeking to repeal the 1945 law on the off-chance that it might be revived by future court decisions. 

The group says it plans to take the petition to a state court to fight the canvass board's deadlock. 

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