Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed two bills that would have had Michigan join other states in licensing compacts for nurses and psychologists.
In her veto letter to lawmakers, the governor said both bills would violate sections of the Michigan Constitution by “forfeiting our prerogative as a state to set the standard of care required of nurses and psychologists practicing in our state.”
“While I value interstate cooperation, especially around issues that are peculiarly interstate in nature, these compacts require Michigan to cede its sovereign interest in regulating health professions to an outside body,” Whitmer wrote.
The legislation to join an interstate nursing licensure compact, H.B. 4042 sponsored by Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township, would take “away the state’s authority to regulate the nursing profession,” according to a statement today from the governor’s office announcing the signing of 19 bills and a veto for 13 others.
Meanwhile, S.B. 758, sponsored by Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, would have allowed an independent commission to set rules “that would have the effect of law in Michigan,” Whitmer’s statement said.
Backers of the legislation saw it as a way to increase access to mental health care in Michigan.
The state House passed S.B. 758 on Dec. 17 on a 89-16 vote and it easily cleared the Senate the next day on a unanimous 37-0 vote. The bill would have entered Michigan into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact that already includes 15 states, enabling psychologists to treat patients in other states through telehealth without going through the licensing process in each state.
Likewise, H.B. 4042 would have allowed nurses in Michigan to have multi-state licensures.
Whitmer also vetoed bills to put a 28-day limit on emergency orders to control a pandemic unless approved by both chambers of the state Legislature, and to repeal the governor’s emergency powers.
The 28-day limit on emergency orders for a pandemic would “recklessly undermine the ability of the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the spread of this pandemic, putting the lives of countless Michiganders at risk,” Whitmer wrote in her veto letter to lawmakers.
“Unfortunately, epidemics are not limited to 28 days. We should not so limit our ability to respond to them,” she wrote.
Whitmer also vetoed a S.B. 1185 that would have provided liability protection to shield health care workers from lawsuits from a patient claiming they were injured while receiving care related to COVID-19. Whitmer said a prior executive order and legislative action earlier this year already provided similar protections.
“When a COVID-19 patient receives substandard care, they should not be deprived of their day in court,” she wrote in a veto letter to lawmakers on S.B. 1185., sponsored by Sen. Curtis VanderWall, R-Ludington.
In a statement, VanderWall said the governor is “siding with trial lawyers eager to sue.”
“The stress and fatigue our health care heroes are facing on the front lines of this fight is unimaginable. The last thing they should be worried about are frivolous lawsuits, yet that’s exactly what Gov. Whitmer has done with this veto. Nobody should take her seriously again when she claims she has their backs,” he said in a statement.