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Courts flummox initiatives of attorney general, governor

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Two high-profile initiatives advocated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel suffered legislative and legal setbacks this week.

Whitmer’s statewide ban of flavored e-cigarettes has been stymied by the Michigan Court of Claims for the time being, but has also been challenged by recently introduced legislation by Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland. Johnson’s proposed law would allow sales of flavored e-cigarettes

Nessel’s attempt to force religious-based adoption and foster-care child placement organizations to work with same-sex couples was overturned by a district court earlier this month. The AG’s subsequent motion to stay the court’s decision was denied on Tuesday.

Whitmer’s executive order to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes (vaping) garnered headlines nationwide when announced in September and put into effect October 1. Vape shop proprietors were given 14 days to comply with the ban.

Last week, however, a state judge granted a preliminary injunction on behalf of vape shop owners.

On Tuesday, Johnson introduced House Bill 5019, which is currently under consideration by the House Regulatory Reform Committee. The bill would exempt low-nicotine products from Whitmer’s ban.

“It’s quite the overstep when unelected department bureaucrats are able to make decisions that take away personal freedoms for responsible adults and put hundreds of job providers and employees across the state out of business,” Johnson said in a statement. “The governor’s ban goes too far. We need to have further discussion on how to best protect our children while also protecting those using these devices as a means to quit using combustible cigarettes.”

He continued: “Unilateral bans that circumvent the Legislature without any open discussion or input from the public does not lead to good public policy,” Johnson said. “Good public policy is crafted when we work together in Lansing. It is my hope both parties can come together and agree on a solution that helps protect our youth, small businesses and those who are struggling to quit smoking.”

Also on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker denied Nessel’s motion to stay his injunction against the rule enforced by the Attorney General and the Department of Health and Human Services that required faith-based foster-care and adoption services to place children with same-sex couples.

“The State has offered nothing new and has failed to come to grips with the factual basis on the preliminary injunction record that supports the inference of religious targeting in this case,” Joster wrote in Tuesday’s ruling.