After the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders were unconstitutional, Rep. Jeff Yaroch and the State House acted swiftly to protect unemployed workers, nursing home residents and Macomb County families.
“The bipartisan measures we’re sending to the governor’s desk represent answers to many issues brought on by COVID-19,” said Yaroch, of Richmond, after his votes this week. “We’re helping those forced out of work by the pandemic get the benefits they need to care for their families. We’re improving care for nursing home residents – one of our must vulnerable populations, particularly when it comes to this virus. And hopefully, we’re laying the groundwork for more bipartisan cooperation as Michigan continues to deal with COVID-19, with our Governor and Legislature working together for Michigan.”
Senate Bill 886 and House Bill 6137 safeguard 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 jobs 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 COVID-19.
Another measure allows state retirees to return to work to help the UIA deal with the large backlog of cases. Separately, the House approved a supplemental budget bill designed to prompt the Unemployment Insurance Agency to reopen its regional offices that have been shuttered during the pandemic to improve service and response.
Other measures help prevent 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 recovered, or the facility has established a state-approved and dedicated area to care for people with the virus. The legislation also allows in-person, indoor visitation in nursing homes.
Additional measures approved by the House would 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. Another measure authorizes local governments, school boards and other public bodies with a method to meet electronically, if necessary, to conduct business and engage with the public.
“We are seven months into this, and obviously there is more work to be done to protect the health of our residents with the goal of returning normalcy to our daily lives.” Yaroch said. “What we have done here is continue our founders’ vision that all of state government works together to keep people healthy and protected during this incredibly challenging time.”