Michigan Lawmakers Pass Slew of Bills to Protect Michiganders During Pandemic
Michigan lawmakers worked through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning to pass several bills that touch on everything from nursing homes to unemployment.
Michigan’s legislators took action on several pieces of coronavirus protection measures to replace previous executive orders by the governor.
They finalized several bills that they say will help protect and empower Michiganders during the pandemic.
One of the biggest highlights is that lawmakers are extending unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks. Michigan Works! says this will be hugely helpful to the tourism industry.
“These employees are crucial to the economy because without them, area businesses aren’t going to be able to operate this year,” said MI Works! career navigator Yolanda Romel. “A lot of seasonal employees were unable to start their position as usual in the spring.”
State Representative Jack O’Malley says this will keep people covered through the end of they ear.
“In essence, things could get cut off, so this was a way to make sure that we continue that support to the folks who need it,” said O’Malley.
Other pieces of legislation will protect employers from coronavirus liabilities so long as they’re complying with the state’s COVID-19 rules.
“Unless there’s extreme negligence and you get it, you can’t sue your employer saying that they gave you COVID,” said O’Malley. “You’re going to get coverage, your sick time, all that, but you just can’t sue the guy…all it’s doing is really keeping the frivolous lawsuits down.”
Another bill will revamp nursing home procedures and mandate greater transparency from the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Department of Health and Human Services. It will also require the state to make visiting policies for nursing homes.
Further, it revises the rules and procedures for nursing homes who are hosting or caring for coronavirus patients.
Finally, another bill will extend the expiration for drivers licenses and registrations through the end of the year.
Representative O’Malley says it felt good to work together across the aisle to get these things done.
“We are back to normal. There is nothing wrong with honest disagreement, honest discussion. But the key is honest discussion. Yesterday, we were co-equal and that is how the system is supposed to work.”
The bills now head to the governor’s desk.