Measures would extend unemployment, allow public bodies to meet virtually
State Rep. Graham Filler and the Michigan House have approved several measures to continue protecting Michigan families from COVID-19 and craft a smarter plan of action for the remainder of the pandemic.
In the wake of the recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders, Filler said the proposals would extend unemployment benefits, allow local boards and commissions to continue meeting virtually, and ensure licensed healthcare workers remain authorized to test people for COVID-19.
“It’s critically important that we all work together to move our state forward safely as this pandemic continues to linger,” said Filler, of DeWitt. “Keeping people healthy remains my priority. It’s also vital to make sure the unemployment checks out-of-work Michiganders are relying on to feed their families don’t come to a sudden, screeching halt.”
Senate Bill 886, which received overwhelming bipartisan 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.
House Bill 6293, which Filler sponsored, would provide flexibility to allow licensed health care workers such as physician assistants, registered nurses and pharmacists to continue testing people for COVID-19. This measure also received overwhelming bipartisan support from legislators.
Other measures approved by the House today 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).
- Prevent the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing common-sense recommendations of the nursing homes task force. The measure prohibits the return of COVID-19-positive residents unless they have fully recovered or the facility has established a dedicated area to properly care for and isolate people with the virus. In addition, the measure allows in-person visitations for all nursing home residents, requires health data reporting and a plan to address the testing needs for our most vulnerable (SB 1094 and HB 6137).
- 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).
- Establish a plan to safely reopen state unemployment offices and Secretary of State branches to better serve the public (SB 748).
State Rep. Graham Filler today issued the following statement after Gov. Whitmer signed legislation he spearheaded to protect businesses, universities, non-profit organizations and other Michigan job providers from becoming the target of frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19: