Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, today voted in favor of additional relief to help struggling job providers and their employees who have been forced to make financial sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The House approved a $184.6 million relief plan to help restaurants, movie theaters, fitness centers and other businesses hurt most by the pandemic. The plan also helps health care professionals and other occupational license holders who weren’t allowed to work for part of the pandemic, while also making more resources available for community development investments helping small businesses.
“All of these hard-working, community-minded Michiganders share this in common – they were required by their state government to make financial sacrifices to help lessen the spread of COVID-19 and keep people healthy,” Glenn said. “Some were shut down for months, and as soon as business started bouncing back, another wave of the virus hit and their livelihoods were damaged again. We’ve already lost thousands of Michigan small businesses forever because of this pandemic. This relief plan could help us avoid losing even more.”
Highlights of the House plan:
Helping restaurants: An estimated 3,000 have closed permanently since the pandemic began, and those still in business are chronically short-staffed. The plan provides funding to refund certain state fees charged to restaurants even though they were shut down by the governor’s orders, and adds $10 million to help restaurants train and certify staff to safely serve alcohol in accordance with certification guidelines.
Providing occupational fee relief: The state of Michigan requires licenses and charges fees to workers in several occupations – from health care to cosmetology to construction. People in many of these occupations were not allowed to work for portions of the pandemic, so the House plan would refund or prorate state fees accordingly. This plan would fund a separate measure sponsored by Glenn, House Bill 4558, related to fee reimbursements for licensed health care workers. This measure was approved by the House in June.
Supporting tourism and entertainment: A $30 million grant will help local convention and visitor bureaus critical to local economies. Movie theaters would receive $18 million. Live entertainment venues also would receive additional support.
Helping health and fitness centers: Roughly a third of the centers in Michigan have closed permanently after state-ordered shutdowns of six months earlier in the pandemic. A $53 million hardship grant program would benefit the industry and its employees.
The House plan also provides $25 million for community development financial institutions to assist revitalization efforts and help small businesses.
House Bill 5524 advances to the Senate for consideration. The COVID relief would come in addition to a $409 million small business relief plan signed into law in December 2021.
Rep. Glenn says that Michigan motorists need more tax relief than the proposed three-month federal gas tax suspension would provide, noting that the Michigan Legislature has approved three tax relief plans this year, and that the Governor has vetoed every one.