Legislator: Protections for Michiganders would be written in law under proposal
State Rep. Kathy Crawford and the Michigan House today approved several measures to continue protecting and helping Michigan families during the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crawford, of Novi, highlighted needed protections for nursing home residents, assistance to workers and job providers and extended unemployment benefits included in the Legislature’s proposal after the Michigan Supreme Court recently struck down coronavirus-related executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“These are unprecedented times we are facing and we needed a real plan to keep Michigan moving forward in a safe and sensible fashion,” Crawford said. “The Legislature has spent months hearing from concerned residents and we’ve received those concerns and developed a better course of action that will protect people and their families.”
Senate Bill 886, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, safeguards the Unemployment Insurance Agency benefits put in place to address the pandemic and guarantees those claims will continue uninterrupted for the maximum number of weeks allowed by the federal government. The plan would protect workers who left work to self-isolate or quarantine, as well as people who are immunocompromised or need to care for a family member diagnosed with COVID-19. It also ensures job providers will continue to be held harmless for unemployment benefit charges if their employees were laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bills 1094 and 6137 aim to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing recommendations of the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. The plans prohibit the return of COVID-19-positive residents to nursing facilities unless they have fully recovered, or the facility has established a state-approved dedicated area to care for people with the virus. In addition, the measures allow safe and responsible in-person visitations for all nursing home residents, requires health data reporting and a plan to the address testing needs for our most vulnerable.
Other measures approved by the House would:
- Provide local governments, school boards and other public bodies with a method to meet electronically, if necessary, to conduct business and engage with the public (SB 1108).
- Provide flexibility to allow licensed health care workers such as physician assistants, registered nurses and pharmacists to continue testing people for COVID-19 (House Bill 6293).
- Allow important documents, such as wills, deeds and other forms to be signed and witnessed electronically through the end of 2020 (HBs 6294-97).
- Allow retirees to return to work to help the UIA or the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration with the overwhelming number of claims without forfeiting their retirement benefits (SB 911).
- Extend the validity of vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses and state identification cards that expired after March 2020, and waive late fees associated with renewing expired documents (HBs 5756, 5757, 6192).
- Establish a plan to open state unemployment offices and Secretary of State branches to better serve the public (SB 748). The measure also acknowledges the great need for more COVID-19 testing in nursing homes with faster results.
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State Rep. Kathy Crawford, chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, issued the following statement after the governor vetoed the Legislature’s plan to improve COVID safety measures for Michigan’s nursing home residents: “The governor has shown time and time again that she cares more about her own optics than she does about […]