Rep. Jeff Yaroch today joined his legislative colleagues in Lansing to extend Michigan’s coronavirus-forced state of emergency and the Governor’s related powers through the end of April.
Gov. Whitmer had requested an immediate extension into mid-June. But Yaroch, of Richmond, said it would be wiser to extend the emergency status incrementally while we assess and respond to this pandemic.
“The Emergency Management Act of 1976 allows the Governor to engage in emergency rulemaking for 28 days before returning to the Legislature for reauthorization,” Yaroch said. “We are working with our Governor, while fulfilling our Constitutional duty to provide oversight. I do not think our founders fought a war for freedom only to have the Legislature disappear in time of crisis.”
Yaroch said he wants to work with the Governor to fix the unemployment benefits filing system that is failing Michigan residents in their time of need. Many people trying to file for benefits can’t connect with the website or call center in a timely manner because of heavy demand.
“This has to be a high priority,” Yaroch said of fixing the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) system. “We appropriated $150 million to help address this pandemic and some of that money can be used to ramp up UIA’s ability to respond to the increased volume of claims. If our Governor were to ask for it, I would be open to doing a budget transfer to assist the UIA. People need this temporary support to care for their families and pay their bills.”
Yaroch noted that strict safety precautions were in place during the Legislature’s session at the Capitol today to prevent spread of the virus.
“When I think about what our first responders and health care workers are going through to respond to this pandemic,” Yaroch said, “I do not think it is a heavy lift for me to wear a mask to session to fulfill my duty. We need to prevent the spread of this virus to keep people from dying, but we also need to get back to work as soon as it is safe so that we all can provide for our families. We can, we will get through this.”
“Everyone involved wants to do what’s best for our students, educators, school employees and their families,” Yaroch said. “That’s why we worked hard on this plan to ensure bipartisan support on a very challenging issue during these trying times. This plan provides a good way forward for local districts to work within our communities and make decisions that are safe and sensible.”