The Michigan State House of Representatives is working to do its part in resolving issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic impacted by the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent rulings regarding Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Orders and their validity going forward. Watervliet State Rep. Pauline Wendzel is on the leading edge of some of the key measures approved in Lansing on Tuesday night.
Wendzel and the Michigan House have approved several measures to continue protecting and helping Michigan families during the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wendzel says 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.
Wendzel tells us, “When the Supreme Court made its ruling, I said that I stand ready to work with my colleagues and the governor – guided by the science and medical experts – to lead our state through the COVID-19 pandemic,” adding, “Today, we worked together and passed meaningful, bipartisan legislation.”
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. It prohibits 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 plan 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. Those measures also received unanimous support from legislators.
Other measures approved by the House Tuesday night 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).
Rep. Wendzel concludes, “Throughout this pandemic, I’ve argued for a thoughtful and commonsense approach to fighting this virus. I’ve always believed that when we work together, we benefit the people we serve. Tonight, we proved that yet again.”