Whitmer finds sections of COVID-19 budget unconstitutional

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday ruled that some Republicans-backed budget provisions were unconstitutional attempts to curtail public health measures related to COVID-19, but allowed language limiting possible vaccination requirements of the government.

The Democrat’s measures, which came as no surprise to GOP lawmakers involved in the negotiations, came at the same time as she approved $ 55 billion in spending two days before the start of the new fiscal year.

Whitmer’s office has already said it will block two sections affecting local health services. One reportedly banned mask warrants for anyone under the age of 18. The other would have cut funding to agencies if they had a pandemic order in effect from this Friday, unless county commissioners voted to support it.

“The lawmaker cannot roll out the public health code in a budget bill or inappropriate funds because they challenge the actions of the local health service,” she wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

The governor also indirectly addressed a provision that attempts to require certain exemptions for university students with coronavirus vaccine mandates. Schools receive state funding but are run independently.

She said any provision that deprives universities of their oversight control and budgetary independence is unconstitutional.

“They have to decide how they are going to implement the master key. My understanding is that none of the universities have policies that go against the spirit of this Standard Model anyway, ”Whitmer told reporters before signing the bills.

Negotiated language that remains intact restricts state and municipal requirements for COVID-19 vaccines – including for government employees – and bans so-called government vaccine passports. Whitmer agrees with the provision as it does not apply to medical facilities and he acknowledges that President Joe Biden plans to implement a “soft” vaccine mandate – requiring employers with at least 100 workers to oblige them. get vaccinated or be tested every week.

It “provides a roadmap for public employers to ensure their employees receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing to keep their colleagues safe,” Whitmer wrote.

Pending federal regulations could affect Michigan government employees. The governor has declared that any provision that undermines the exclusive authority of the Michigan Civil Service Commission to regulate terms of employment is unconstitutional.

She also authorized the requirement that the state health department provide evidence to support emergency epidemic orders and list the factors it will take into account when deciding whether to terminate or change them.

Whitmer, whose administration lifted pandemic orders three months ago, has repeatedly said it does not plan to issue broad warrants for vaccines or masks. But she has also made it clear that she will oppose the GOP’s attempts to undermine or restrict “grassroots actions to save lives.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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