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Former public health officials: Ignore petition to limit emergency powers

Surgical mask on white background
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A bipartisan group of former state and local public health officials are urging people to ignore a petition campaign that would enact new restrictions on emergency powers.

The petition drive would limit state or local emergency health orders to 28 days unless extensions are approved by the Legislature or county commissions.

Janet Olszewski was Governor Jennifer Granholm’s public health director. She says the initiative would put the judgment of politicians over public health experts.

“Public health emergencies are complex. They are fast-moving and ever-changing,” she said. “Local and state public health officials have the specific training and expertise to understand the emerging threats and to quickly develop and deploy responses to those threats.”

The public health chief who served under Republican Governors John Engler and Rick Snyder is also part of the decline-to-sign campaign. Jim Haveman says public health emergencies should be managed by experts.

“And even if there’s an epidemic going on, turns it over to the county commissions or the state House and Senate to decide whether this should continue or not, I think that’s danger and it puts public health in the hands of politicians.”

If the petition drive collects enough signatures, it would put the question before the Legislature to adopt or it would go on the ballot.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio

Rick Pluta | MPRN