The Michigan House yesterday approved a plan by Rep. Timothy Beson to prohibit the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) from levying civil penalties, such as fines and fees, against businesses for first-time violations of pandemic emergency orders.
“As a small-business owner myself, I know just how much suffering our community has been through over the past year,” said Rep. Beson. “It’s hard to convey to anyone who does not own or operate a small business just how much work it takes to keep the lights on in a normal year. Adding the pandemic and lockdown restrictions to the mix only made it more difficult to pay bills, sign paychecks for employees, and provide for our families. From executive orders to state health department mandates, COVID-19 protocols constantly evolved, making it difficult for business owners to comply. They should not be punished with unnecessary, and in some cases unconstitutional, fines for trying to keep their businesses afloat, employees paid and doors open.”
The governor’s executive orders were found to be unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court last October. The court ruled she did not have the authority under the Emergency Act of 1976 (EMA) to re-declare a state of emergency or disaster after April 30.
The Beson bill would prohibit MIOSHA from assessing an employer or civil fine for violating emergency orders under the following circumstances:
- The emergency standard addresses COVID-19; and
- The violation is the employer’s first violation of the standard; and
- The employer takes action to correct the violation.
Beson’s House Bill 4501 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
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