The Michigan State Senate passed three bills on Thursday to extend unemployment benefits, protect people in nursing homes, and allow boards of local governments to continue to meet online.

Sen. John Bizon, M.D. voted yes on all three bills.

“Everyone has been touched in some way by this disease; we need to work together to provide help to those who need it,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek. “Today’s legislation offers some sound solutions.”

Swift action became necessary when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Governor Gretchen Whitmer could no longer extend the state of emergency or continue to manage the COVID-19 crisis by unchecked executive orders.  The Court struck down the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders in an October 2nd ruling, stating she violated the state constitution and exceeded her powers.

The Senate passed the following bills:

  • Senate Bill 886 and SB 911 to enable Michiganders to continue to receive unemployment insurance benefits while they cannot work or are searching for work;
  • SB 1094 to protect vulnerable populations by prohibiting COVID-19-affected individuals from being placed in nursing home facilities. The bill combines aspects from legislation Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed this summer and recommendations from the governor’s Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force comprised of industry professionals; and
  • SB 1108 to allow boards of local governments and other public entities to meet electronically for a limited time and still engage the public.

Bizon said Thursday’s measures offer the governor opportunities to work together with the Legislature.

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“During this pandemic, the Legislature has sent the governor numerous bills to help residents deal with the effects of COVID-19, but she has repeatedly vetoed the bills, many of which passed with bipartisan support,” Bizon said. “Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it is my hope the governor will be willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to provide help and protections for Michiganders.”

 

The legislation passed Thursday now heads to the Michigan House for further consideration. State Representative Matt Hall was on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins on Thursday.   He said the Michigan Constitution requires that the bill can’t be voted on by the State House until five days after passing in the Senate (or vice-versa.)   He says legislators are busy on the phone this week working on plans, and he says they’ll be in Lansing Tuesday to vote on the bills.

After that, it’ll be up to Governor Whitmer to either sign or veto the measures.

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