The Michigan House and Senate extended Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency order powers until April 30 during two sessions April 7 in which legislators took precautions to distance themselves from each other to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Whitmer had recommended the emergency order be extended for 70 days, but the legislature approved the 23-day extension, which is in line with federal guidelines for social distancing.

Click here for more information in an Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) Breaking News article shared by Karoub Associates.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters wrote a letter March 31 to the Administrator of FEMA and the U.S. Attorney General detailing the urgent needs of medical workers, law enforcement and first responders and their inability thus far to obtain adequate amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE).

"I urge you to work together to ensure that these workers have access to PPE as our country works to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Peters wrote in the letter. "Frontline personnel across the country have not received the protection they desperately need as they risk their own safety to perform essential duties in their communities. In a survey recently published by the United States Conference of Mayors, approximately 91.5% of the responding cities do not have an adequate supply of face masks for their first responders, including police, fire and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and medical personnel, and 88.2% do not have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect these workers."

Please click here for the complete letter, including Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff's Office confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as questions Peters posed about FEMA and the Department of Justice response to these urgent PPE needs.

By Bryan Davis, MAPE Legal Analyst

Due to the widespread economic impacts realized as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), federal funding has been a subject of significant concern and importance. Over the past several weeks, emergency federal funding has been allocated towards combating the spread of COVID-19 and, at this point in time, funding has occurred through two separate bills.

The first phase of federal funding was found in an emergency spending bill, aimed at bolstering response efforts to the outbreak of the coronavirus, with approximately $7.8 billion being allocated to directly address the outbreak and another $500 million allocated to extend telemedicine services to seniors. Notably, the bill also appears to dedicate $300 million to ensuring the purchase of vaccinations when such vaccinations become available.

The second phase of emergency federal funding was found in the form of the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” signed into law March 18, 2020. The Families First Act was primarily aimed at addressing issues such as unemployment benefits and paid sick leave. Specifically, the Families First Act provides that, for employers with more than 50 employees and less than 500 employees, two weeks of paid sick leave are to be provided if such employees are confronted with the coronavirus, including: medical diagnosis; quarantine due to COVID-19; symptoms from COVID-19; care for another who is quarantined; or care for children due to school or childcare closing due to the coronavirus.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) introduced legislation to improve the latest package to address the Coronavirus pandemic and helped the Senate pass this bipartisan legislation. The third Coronavirus package includes Peters’ legislation to expand unemployment benefits and support small businesses, hospitals and health care professionals.

The bill includes Peters’ Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act, which would create an unemployment compensation program to provide federally funded benefits to people unable to work because of COVID-19. It would expand who is eligible for unemployment to include workers who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits or other workers who would not usually qualify, such as self-employed workers like small business owners, freelance workers, independent contractors, and seasonal workers as well as individuals who’ve recently started or were about to start a new job. Workers could receive benefits for up to 39 weeks.

Click here for more information on Peters' involvement in the coronavirus legislation.

More state funds were approved for coronavirus (COVID-19) response. The Legislature approved $125 million additional General Fund dollars for coronavirus response with $50 million specifically set aside to expand health care capacity before recessing until March 25 and scaling back session days to just one day per week through mid-April. With COVID-19 impacting governments, schools, businesses and the public, the effects are crippling Michigan as well as the entire country. Some actions taken by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to curb the spread of COVID-19 include: Healthcare workers, police, sanitation workers, correctional officers, postal workers and other key governmental employees will be able to drop their kids off at emergency, unlicensed day care operations from now until April 15. Employers and schools will be allowed to maintain a disaster relief child care center without a state license for those people working that is defined as “essential” jobs. The entire U.S.-Canada border will be closed to non-essential traffic and so willl the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Some Amtrak routes affecting Michigan are being modified. The Governor has requested the U.S. Small Business Association issue an Economic Injury Disaster declaration for the state and is in talks with Michigan companies about producing medical and other items needed for the coronavirus pandemic. She extended weight and other delivery-related restrictions for vehicles carrying essential supplies to mitigate the spread of the virus until April 13 at 11:59 p.m.

For more information on COVID-19 legislation and other recent legislation, please click here for the March 2020 Karoub Report.