Whitmer vetoes 2 bills, including measure to curtail COVID-19 emergency alerts – Detroit Free Press

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed two bills Friday, including another GOP-backed effort to curtail powers used by the administration to combat COVID-19. 

The legislation attempted to prevent the Whitmer administration from using the public threat alert system to send out notifications regarding new mask rules, gathering restrictions or similar health and safety orders.

While the state did send out such alerts to millions of mobile devices earlier in the pandemic, it actually used a separate emergency alert system that was not addressed in this legislation. 

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More broadly, Whitmer said the bill would have made  the state less safe. 

“This bill would add complexity to the administration of the state’s public threat alert system, making it harder for law enforcement officers to do their jobs and making Michiganders less safe,” Whitmer wrote in her veto letter. 

“Since it launched in 2016, the public threat alert system has been used only once — to alert the public to (an) active shooter situation. There is no need to further limit or complicate its use.” 

Some Republican lawmakers balked at the administration using emergency alerts for COVID-19 orders that were largely opposed by conservatives. Legislators who supported the measure said it would prevent people from being inundated with and inured to important emergency alerts. 

Opponents of the bill, chiefly Democrats, said the legislation sought to hamstring the administration and would only hinder efforts to end the pandemic. 

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Whitmer also vetoed a separate bill Friday related to the regulation of personal fuel canisters. The bill would have allowed the usage of older fuel containers in Michigan, even if they did not meet newer federal health and environmental regulations. 

Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, has repeatedly advocated for the legislation. LaFave, whose left leg was amputated shortly after he was born, said rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency make it harder for people with disabilities to safely and effectively use newer fuel containers. 

“If a company makes one of the older style gas cans and sells it, and you as a citizen use it only in Michigan, those EPA rules don’t apply,” LaFave said in April, when the bill passed the House.  “The current, ‘safe’ gas can that is sold brand new at all of your gas stations and convenience stores, you need two hands to operate.”

In her veto letter, Whitmer said the bill is clearly unconstitutional. 

“This legislation ignores federal law in an attempt to exempt certain gas cans from environmental laws designed to limit the release of volatile organic compounds,” Whitmer wrote. 

“If this bill were to become law, it would no doubt be swiftly struck down because it violates both the Commerce and Supremacy clauses of the U.S. Constitution. That would be a waste of valuable time and taxpayer money.” 

It’s unlikely Republicans lawmakers have enough votes to override either veto. 

Contact Dave Boucher at [email protected] or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

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