Lauwers to Whitmer, Hertel: Fix your order preventing locals from meeting

‘You should not be issuing orders that limit residents’ access to their local elected officials’

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Lauwers and some of his Senate Republican colleagues said in a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel on Friday they need to fix one of their executive orders that effectively prevents some local governments and bodies from meeting.

“Throughout the past many months, residents have struggled to navigate life under the constraints of confusing orders,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “Current orders from the DHHS impose not only restrictions on personal behaviors but also confusing restrictions on local governments and bodies and their ability to meet and serve their communities.”

Lauwers said in his district, local Boards of Review are preparing to convene for their required organizational meeting of March 2, 2021, but they are hindered from following requirements issued by the Michigan Department of Treasury because of the most recent order of Feb. 4, 2021, issued by MDHHS.

In the MDHHS order, gatherings are limited to no more than 10 individuals from no more than two households.

Lauwers said the practical impact of the MDHHS order is to limit residents’ access to their local government bodies; the Boards of Reviews cannot allow all the members necessary to be present to conduct business while at the same time complying with the order from MDHHS.

“While technology affords people the ability to connect without having to meet in person, it is not readily available or accessible for many residents of the 25th Senate District,” Lauwers said. “Our Michigan weather does not permit many opportunities for outdoor gatherings as an alternative, so it’s important to be willing to let people meet in person.”

The letter states that state government should not be issuing and enforcing orders that limit residents’ access to their local elected officials and the community entities necessary to carry out the functions of municipal life.

“It is the responsibility of government to consider the impact of its policies and account for unintended consequences,” Lauwers said. “In short, it is the responsibility of government to use common sense.

“I think we can all agree we should work to ensure the Boards of Review can meet and be available for citizen participation.”