Legislation would extend unemployment, protect seniors in nursing homes
State Rep. Rodney Wakeman and the Michigan House today approved several measures to continue protecting and helping Michigan families during the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wakeman, of Saginaw Township, said the proposals would extend unemployment benefits, assist workers and job providers and protect nursing home residents in the wake of the recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders.
“It was imperative that the Legislature immediately take up certain coronavirus-related measures previously included in executive orders that were nullified due to the Supreme Court ruling,” Wakeman said. “Continuation of unemployment benefits is one of many pieces we had to put back in place before displaced workers lose the help they have already been receiving.”
Senate Bill 886, which received unanimous 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.
Senate Bill 1094, along with House Bill 6137, aim to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing recommendations of the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. It prohibits the return of COVID-19-positive residents to nursing facilities unless they have fully recovered, or the facility has established a state-approved dedicated area to care for people with the virus. In addition, the plan allows safe and responsible in-person visitations for all nursing home residents, requires health data reporting and a plan to the address testing needs for our most vulnerable. These measures also received unanimous 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).
- Provide flexibility to allow licensed health care workers such as physician assistants, registered nurses and pharmacists to continue testing people for COVID-19 (House Bill 6293).
- 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).
“For the last several months, I’ve listened to countless individuals in our community whose lives have been unnecessarily harmed by the governor’s executive orders,” Wakeman said. “Families in Saginaw County expect and deserve better results, greater transparency and a voice in Lansing. I remain committed to working with the governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to form a smarter plan moving forward that improves the quality of life for the people of our state who have had their lives turned upside down.”
State Rep. Rodney Wakeman on Tuesday voted to override several vetoes issued by the governor after she stripped crucial funding for struggling students and small businesses from the Legislature’s COVID relief plan.