Rep. Bronna Kahle today voted in favor of funding to help Michigan distribute COVID-19 vaccine and boost testing while helping those whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the virus and economic shutdowns.
Kahle helped lead efforts as the House approved a $465 million overall plan that also temporarily extends unemployment benefits while supporting the restaurant industry, small businesses and the families who depend on them.
“There are brighter days ahead for Lenawee County and Michigan – and this measure will help us get there,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “A vaccine is here, and this funding will help distribute it more quickly and effectively. In the meantime, I continue to fight for the families and small businesses who through no fault of their own have had their livelihoods disrupted by the virus and the governor’s shutdown orders. People are hurting. They’re fighting for their way of life. This financial relief will help until normalcy is restored.”
Highlights of the measure include:
- Unemployment benefits and additional help. The measure includes $220 million to temporarily extend unemployment benefits for those who have been forced out of work by the governor’s most recent shutdown orders. Benefits are extended by six weeks through March, meaning laid-off workers are temporarily eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits. Employers are held harmless for the change. A related measure also helps those who leave their jobs because of domestic violence by ensuring they will have access to unemployment benefits. In addition, $45 million would be set aside for an employee assistance fund providing grants of up to $1,650 to replace lost wages for those employed by a business impacted by the current orders.
- Restaurant and small business relief. The measure adds to grant programs for small businesses whose operations have been shut down or restricted by the governor’s latest orders. Kahle said the small business survival program – supported by $55 million in this measure alone — could provide a lifeline for many job providers and families on the brink of economic collapse.
- Vaccine distribution and support for health care workers. The measure includes more than $50 million to support vaccine distribution efforts, and $22.5 million to boost virus testing efforts – with a special focus on nursing homes. Another $42 million will support temporary staffing needs and wage increases for direct care workers who are the front lines of the COVID-19 fight.
This measure builds on the Legislature’s commitment to fight COVID-19 and its repercussions – which includes approving more than $3 billion earlier this year from state budgets, plus allocation of federal unemployment funding to surpass $6 billion overall.
“This has been a year of unfathomable sacrifice and suffering – but we will get through it by working together and supporting each other,” Kahle said.
Senate Bill 748 is expected to soon be headed to Gov. Whitmer for her consideration.
Rep. Bronna Kahle today voted in favor of funding to help continue the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – starting with additional support for students and families.