Whitmer vetoes bill to limit use of threat alert system

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a Republican-sponsored bill that would have restricted state officials' ability to use the Public Threat Alert System to announce new laws or executive orders.

The Democratic governor, whose veto had been expected, said the system has only been activated once in the five years since it was created, for an active-shooter situation. The state used a different, federal system last year to send alerts to wireless devices about Whitmer's stay-at-home and mask orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. That angered GOP lawmakers who said it should only be activated for “immediate” threats. That system would not have been affected by the state legislation.

In a letter to legislators, the governor said the 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. ... There is no need to further limit or complicate its use.”

The legislation had cleared the Republican-controlled Legislature on mostly party lines.

The federal Wireless Alert System allows four types of messages: presidential alerts, imminent threat alerts, AMBER alerts and — as of 2019 — public safety messages designed to save lives or safeguard property. People can opt out of receiving all but presidential alerts.

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