Senate passes Theis bill requiring legislative approval of DHHS emergency orders beyond 28 days

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation approved by the Senate on Thursday would limit emergency orders issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to 28 days and require that any extension of such orders receive legislative approval before taking effect.

“Unelected and unaccountable DHHS bureaucrats should not be able to issue freedom-restricting emergency orders that disrupt lives and threaten livelihoods in perpetuity,” said bill sponsor Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton. “The state Supreme Court made it clear that even after declaring an emergency, Gov. Whitmer does not have the right to extend such orders without legislative approval, and neither should her employee, Robert Gordon. My bill will ensure the people have a say in the matter, and I urge my colleagues’ and the governor’s support.”

Senate Bill 1253 would reform the state health code to stipulate that DHHS emergency health orders would only be valid for either the time indicated in the order or 28 days, whichever is less. After 28 days, such orders would be invalid unless a request from the department director to extend an order for a specified period is approved by resolution of both the Senate and House of Representatives.

If signed into law, the bill would have an effective date of Nov. 15, 2020.

“Overcoming emergencies takes teamwork,” Theis said. “We should be facing our challenges together, as one Michigan, and this bill will help make sure we do.”

The bill now advances to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, speaks in support of legislation she sponsored that would limit emergency orders issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services to 28 days and require that any extension of such orders receive legislative approval before taking effect.