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Rep Jason Wentworth
Rep. Wentworth, Michigan House pass key protections for residents in COVID-19 response plan
RELEASE|October 14, 2020

State Rep. Jason Wentworth and the Michigan House today approved several measures to continue protecting Michigan families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wentworth, of Farwell, said the proposals would extend unemployment benefits, assist workers and job providers, and protect nursing home residents in the wake of the recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders.

“The Michigan Supreme Court rightfully ruled to restore the voice of the people by confirming that the state’s COVID-19 response needs to be a collaborative effort,” Wentworth said. “The Legislature and the governor engaged in meaningful dialogue to work together towards a better course of action for Michigan families. I am hopeful this bi-partnership effort is not short-lived and rather just the beginning of our pursuit to move our state forward safely and sensibly. Michigan families expect and deserve better results, more transparency, and most importantly – a voice.”

Senate Bill 886, which received unanimous 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 Bill 1094 and House Bill 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 bills 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 legislation allows 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. The measures received unanimous support from legislators.

Other measures approved by the House today would:

  • Establish a plan to open state unemployment offices and Secretary of State branches to better serve the public (SB 748).
  • 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).
  • 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).
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