Embattled Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), known for her strict and sometimes unconstitutional COVID-19 lockdown measures, signed an emergency order Saturday reducing commercial trucking regulations while the state faces severe winter weather.
“As many states have been experiencing consistent extreme cold temperatures, the demand for energy has increased significantly, which has put a strain on the nation’s energy infrastructure,” a press release from Whitmer’s office said. “Michigan has experienced an abnormally high demand for propane from in–state and regional consumers, causing longer lines at propane distribution centers. In an effort to reduce this strain and ensure a consistent flow of energy, the executive order temporarily suspends restrictions on commercial driver hours to allow the immediate delivery of energy to homes and businesses.”
According to the Michigan Center for Truck Safety Guidebook, truckers are normally required to take at least a 30 minute break every eight hours, and may drive up to 11 hours only after taking 10 consecutive hours off. A “week” of driving is defined as any 60 to 70 hour period, which ends when the driver takes 34 consecutive hours off.
“Executive Order 2021-3 takes effect immediately on Saturday, February 20, and remains in effect through Sunday, February 28. The order exempts motor carriers and drivers transporting propane and heating oil from compliance with maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits,” according to Whitmer’s press release. “Any provision of a state statute, order, or rule pertaining to the hours-of-service is suspended. This exemption and suspension apply to all highways in Michigan, including the national system of interstate and defense highways.”
Whitmer said that the “top priority right now is ensuring that Michigan families and businesses have the home heating fuel we need to stay warm,” and that the order “will allow expanded flexibility for drivers to ensure the supply of home heating fuel can be delivered across the state without delay or interruption.”
She also said that she did not want what happened in Texas to happen in Michigan, taking a subtle dig at the Lone Star State, which has experienced rolling power outages after abnormally cold temperatures and snowfall.
Meanwhile, Whitmer is still battling political adversaries over her COVID-19 lockdown measures which, at their most stringent, banned private gatherings among Michiganders. That rule was eventually deemed unconstitutional.
She recently lifted a controversial ban on contact sports after she was sued by several different parties representing high school athletes. On February 8, a Macomb County restaurant group filed a lawsuit against Whitmer claiming that the Michigan constitution requires “citizens to be justly compensated for government takings that substantially interfere with property use.”
The restaurants are claiming that Whitmer’s lockdowns constitute such “substantial interference.”
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.