LANSING — State lawmakers representing Ottawa and Allegan counties believe Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has gone too far in enacting a state of emergency without consent from the Legislature.


Speaking during a teleconference with the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce on Friday, May 1, several legislators said Whitmer needs to work with the Legislature to transition the state beyond the current restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.


“These are extremely challenging times for so many of us,” said Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton. “... But there’s no doubt that this is inflicting very significant harm to our economy and the financial well-being of people around the state.”


The chasm between the GOP-controlled Legislature and the Democratic governor resulted in lawmakers declining to extend the state of emergency that expired April 30, instead passing a resolution to pursue legal action against Whitmer.


“... We’ve been working really hard to sit at the same table with the governor,” said Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township. “And every time we turn around, we’re kicked off the table. This is very frustrating.


“We believe there are three parts to government, there’s checks and balances, and after all this time, we need to be a part of this process.”


Whitmer has cited the Emergency Powers Act to enact authority to extend a state of emergency. On Thursday, she extended the state of emergency to May 28, along with other public gathering restrictions.


“While some members of the legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods yet,” Whitmer said in a statement Thursday.


“By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I’m not going to let that happen.”


Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, believes Whitmer should at least consider plans that have been put forward by the Legislature to begin reopening the economy.


“Really, both of our plans were more of a framework in nature,” he said. “What we were really looking for in putting those forward was to open up a discussion with the governor.


“No one, at this point, in the Republican caucus is saying, ’We’re ready to reopen everything today.’ Everyone recognizes we’re in a state of serious pandemic.


“But we need to transition from this concept of essential industries versus nonessential industries to workplace behaviors that are safe versus unsafe. We have to follow ... leading practices in other states, rather than best practices because this is a virus that is evolving. Our knowledge of it is still evolving.”


— Contact reporter Arpan Lobo at alobo@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo.