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Whitmer Says She Still Hopes Legislature Will Adopt Mask Mandate, COVID Relief

Michigan Executive Office of the Governor
Governor Gretchen Whitmer provides an update Michigan's response to COVID-19 Tuesday, December 15, 2020 in Lansing, Mich.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature’s Republican and Democratic leaders spoke again Tuesday in an effort to coalesce behind year-end priorities. The governor is still trying to strike a bargain with GOP leaders on plans to address the COVID-19 crisis.

The governor’s budget office says there’s $400 million dollars waiting in the bank that could be used to help set up a vaccine distribution system, provide safety gear to health care workers, and help struggling workers and businesses. 

“I stand ready to sign a bill that gives them that help. But I can’t send it to myself,” she said during a briefing on COVID-19. “It’s on the Legislature to get it done and it’s my fervent hope that they do that before they take a break.”

Republicans have pushed back against Whitmer’s expansive use of emergency powers. But the governor says she won’t – as part of the bargain -- give up the state’s existing authority to issue emergency health orders. She says masking and distancing are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 and she’d also like to see the Legislature adopt a bill to put a mask mandate into state law.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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