Monday, October 5, 2020

Michigan Supreme Court Decision Gives Legislature and Executive Branch the Opportunity to Work Together

Michigan has been in a serious debate over whether Governor Whitmer can continue to offer Executive Orders (EO) without Legislative approval has been resolved with a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't give her the power to provide EO within a prescribed time limit (30, 60, 90, whatever days). We still have a pandemic going on and that hasn't changed. Thus, keeping the authority in the Legislative Branch still may mean giving Whitmer authority to limit the spread of the disease. 

Constitutionally it makes sense that the Legislative Branch should be able to limit ultimate authority. From a historical perspective we have tried to maintain a counter balance. Due to the debate and coordination of a larger body of law makers might not do well with quick paced decisions and that is why we utilize Executives (Governors) that can better manage day-to-day affairs. We must then empower the Executive Branch to act in the best interest of people. 

The Legislative Branch should maintain its authority over the Executive Branch from a "birds eye" point of view. Handing over authority to the Executive Branch to deal with a crisis is a necessity for responsiveness but must come with limited power strings. The Legislative Branch has the authority to create pressure to influence the application of EO by allowing or not allowing powers for a particular timeframe. 

(side note....there should always be a hard stop end date for clarity reasons)

There is then a relationship between the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary (i.e. rulings on EO) branches that help set in place interrelation of power in our society. With this power structure we must actually overcome a challenge to our species. So it takes "all hands on deck" to focus on the best interest of the people.

EO's is not a wrong approach to problems. The dial up and dial down has some root in science and good management. Yet the calibration of that dial is open to debate. Maybe there were some changes that could have helped business and still helped protect against spread. Having a balance of those powers allows for increased information and better overall decision making (No matter who is in charge).

That doesn't mean we don't have a need for EO's. We do! Nimbleness is still important. I think the approach the Governor and medical community used was pretty good (not perfect but good) and the Legislative Branch should extend those EO with any tweaks they feel better represent the needs of the people. Thus far, when I look back over the state and lawmakers I do think they rose to the challenge overcome this situation (There is lots of room for improvement but this is a novel situation where people make decisions based on the information available to them at the time such decisions are needed.) While they argued and sparred they were responding to novelty and thus further defined the EO system and the data approach to risk zones. That has real value for the future and national security. Personally, I think it is a system that can be adapted to other places (perhaps nationally). We can only overcome these challenges when we work together as a system to beat an invading system. 

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