State Rep. Thomas Albert today voted for a plan to restore the normal balance of powers between the branches of state government and end the broad, unchecked control given to the governor during a state of emergency.
Albert, of Lowell, said the plan also puts many of the virus-related executive orders into state law, ensuring they continue to exist after the state of emergency ends at the end of the day.
“We all agree that COVID-19 is a serious health crisis and needs to be dealt with swiftly,” Albert said. “Our response needs to both protect public health and allow people to resume activities safely. Many of the governor’s decisions, while well intentioned, have been implemented poorly because they were not properly vetted though the legislative process. For example, the statewide prohibition of preventative medical treatments the governor has deemed ‘non-essential’ is bankrupting our health systems while denying residents vital treatments such as cancer radiation. We need checks and balances going forward.”
To ensure measures remain in place to protect public health and help families who have been hurt by the economic impact of the virus, the Legislature took action to put some of the governor’s previous orders into state law with specific expiration dates. This includes:
• Protections for workers that prevent employers from taking disciplinary action against any employee who elects to stay home from work because of COVID-19.
• Procedures allowing school districts, parents and students to continue the learning process while school buildings remain closed.
• Measures to prevent price gouging.
• Expanded unemployment benefits and eligibility requirements.
• Suspending all foreclosure and eviction proceedings until June 30.
• Restrictions on large public gatherings.
• Standards for businesses and entities where people are working on site, such as following CDC social distancing guidelines, using enhanced cleaning provisions, providing personal protective equipment for employees, avoiding the sharing of tools and equipment when possible, and promoting remote work.
• Limiting visitors at health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities and juvenile justice facilities, conducting health screenings for necessary visitors and providing phone or video chat visitation options.
Among the executive orders not included by the Legislature are the stay-at-home order, orders prohibiting preventative medical procedures, dental work and veterinary services, as well as the order suspending certain responsibilities for public bodies to respond to public records requests made through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Additionally, Albert voted to support a resolution that will allow the Legislature to take legal action against the governor for certain actions she may take in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including extending the emergency declaration beyond the date set by the Legislature.
“The legislation passed today is in no way an attempt to limit the governor’s ability to address this crisis,” Albert said. “We simply are showing the governor that the people’s chamber wants to work with her. Decisions which have such a significant impact on the lives Michiganders must include transparency, accountability and be decided in the manner established by our republic.”
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.