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Sen. Shirkey: Gov. Whitmer, we are ready to work together; are you?

The Detroit News

Editor's note: This is an open letter from Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Last week, men and women across law enforcement agencies worked together to thwart an alleged, attempted attack on state government. Thirteen men are charged with plotting not only to kidnap you, but planning to attack police officers and attempt to dismantle our state government. These men are accused terrorists. I immediately and unequivocally condemned them. I said it before, and I’ll say it again — an attack against you is an attack against us all.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, behind her, acknowledges some guests, during the State of the State address at the Capitol Building in Lansing, Mich. on Jan. 29, 2020.  She is flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, left, and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, right.

Following the arrests and public announcement of the alleged plot against Michigan's government, you used the information to further associate these accused terrorists with the Republican party and solicit campaign donations. You participated in multiple media interviews where you accused Republicans who speak in opposition to your policies of supporting them. Your accusations are unfounded and highly offensive. I am not your enemy, and neither are the men and women who gather to peacefully demonstrate in opposition to your policies.

More than a week ago, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the law you relied upon to unilaterally issue orders and mandates is unconstitutional. In the wake of the ruling, you did not return outreach to begin the process of working with the Legislature to put into statute the policies necessary to help protect the health and safety of the public. Instead, you attempted an end-run around the court and used the state director of the Department of Health and Human Services to issue new orders that mirror the content of your unconstitutional mandates.

The clear message from the Supreme Court was that our Constitution requires the governor and Legislature to work together, and that you cannot continue to rule as a government of one. Your latest move to issue mandates via the public health code not only exceeds the authority of that law, but you attack the court in a partisan and condescending manner with your actions.

When it comes to responding to COVID, you have repeatedly told Michigan citizens that “we’re all in this together.” But your actions speak louder than your words, and you continue to seek to go it alone rather than work to reach compromise with a coequal branch of government.

You resort to political rhetoric and name-calling when presented with the opportunity to convey a more unifying message. Your actions suggest you find it more politically advantageous to perpetuate discord and disagreement than find common ground. 

Since the court’s ruling, the Senate Republicans have advanced legislation to address pressing issues like ensuring unemployment benefits for struggling Michiganders with bipartisan support. And we did so without input from your office. 

The Senate Republicans are ready to address policies necessary for our citizens to navigate life in the presence of COVID-19. We stand united in our condemnation of terrorists who would seek to harm those serving in state government. We are ready to work together to move Michigan forward.

The question is: Governor, are you willing to work with us?

Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake

Senate majority leader