Gov. Gretchen Whitmer must take more steps toward reopening Michigan’s economy before the Legislature can have meaningful conversations about the next steps in allocating federal COVID-19 relief funds, House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert said today.
The Whitmer administration’s most recent extended order shutting down parts of the state’s economy is set to expire after Jan. 15. Restaurant workers and others still have no idea if they’ll be able to return to work or what criteria the governor might use to decide whether she will extend her latest ‘pause’ on indoor dining and other activities for a third time.
“I can’t envision starting conversations about how to allocate additional federal COVID-19 relief funds until the governor shows more willingness to restore the economy and a sense of normalcy,” said Albert, of Lowell. “It’s difficult to properly allocate relief funds when the governor still has not informed Michiganders when or under what conditions we can have our freedoms back. What Michigan needs is clarity and hope, and we’re not getting either from the governor.”
Albert reiterated that the best way to help Michigan families is to safely and fully reopen the state – and the Legislature should be a full partner with the governor in those decisions.
“People are tired of our state government’s response to COVID hinging on one person. That’s not how state government is supposed to operate – and for good reason, because centralized authority doesn’t work,” Albert said. “Just look at the problems with our unemployment benefits system – including the governor’s veto last month that takes away additional financial support from thousands of Michiganders. COVID in our nursing homes, schools forced to close against the wishes of their parents, the refusal to extend property tax relief to families and businesses who need it – the list goes on and on.
“Enough is enough. As the 101st Legislature prepares to convene next week, I am counting on the governor to be a full partner with lawmakers as mandated by our Constitution. I fully intend to employ the checks and balances required in our system of government. We will not simply hand over billions of taxpayer dollars to extend the current way of governing.”
The Michigan House, led by Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert, today approved time-sensitive COVID relief measures for families and communities – with more assistance for schools expected to be approved later this week.
Rep. Albert talks about House passage Tuesday of his HB 4698 , which makes it a crime to raise a false active shooter alarm knowingly andwillfully in a public place. Rep. Albert says the penalties for pulling an active shooter alarm would be the same as those for pulling a fire alarm.