By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

Michigan frontline workers, who were on the job during the height of the pandemic, can apply for a program providing tuition-free college education or technical certificates through Dec. 31, 2020.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced applications are now being accepted for the Future for Frontliners program. Some 625,000 Michigan residents, who provided essential services during the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Orders (April 1 through June 30, 2020), may be eligible.

Eligible candidates must be Michigan residents, who have not earned an associate or bachelor’s degree, and are not in default on a Federal student loan. They must also:

  • Have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 – June 30, 2020
  • Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 – June 30, 2020
  • Complete a Futures for Frontliners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 31, 2020

The $24 million program is funded by the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund, through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

To apply or for further details, visit www.michigan.gov/frontliners.

A related program for those interested in taking free online courses to prepare for College Board College Level Examination Tests was also announced. Visit www.Michigan.gov/skillstowork for more information.

The House approved a series of bills aimed at addressing concerns of educators and parents as students prepare to start the new school year during the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate passed the package Saturday, Aug. 15 with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing the bills into law; With every region of the state experiencing an uptick in new cases of COVID-19 over the past several weeks, and daily case counts in late July exceeding 50 cases per million statewide, Capital Building Lansing CroppedGov. Whitmer’s signed an executive order extending the Emergency Act to Sept. 4th — the Friday leading up to the Labor Day weekend; Gov. Whitmer vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation (SB 899) that would have given the medical community and nursing homes broad immunity protections against lawsuits regarding COVID-19 treatment; More than 2.5 million people voted in the Michigan primary, breaking the August 2018 record of 2.2 million, according to figures reported by the Secretary of State’s office; An appeal of a lower court’s ruling dismissing lawsuits challenging the state’s automatic voter registration, challenging ballot and proof of residency requirements will not be heard by the Michigan Supreme Court; House Republican Judiciary Committee Chair Graham Filler said he wants to hold a hearing right away to protect businesses and universities from the inevitable lawsuits over allegations that they are not protecting customers or students from COVID-19; and the Legislature passed and Gov. Whitmer signed into law HB 5265 and SB 373 to resolve the $2.2 billion hole in the state’s budget by using primarily federal money, $350 million from the Rainy Day Fund, fund shifts, and $483 million in hard cuts.

For more information on these and other legislative issues click here for the August 2020 Karoub Report.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced MI Mask Aid, a program providing 4 million free face masks to disadvantaged communities.

With COVID-19 cases reaching a two-week plateau in Michigan, Whitmer unveiled the partnership between Ford Motor Company and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help lower the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 in the black community and the vulnerable population. Masks will be distributed to low-income residents, seniors and schools through the effort led by Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

“I want to thank Jim Hackett (Ford CEO) and Ford for their partnership,” Whitmer said, noting the masks, produced by Ford Motor Company, have a Ford symbol on them.

With 1,121 new cases announced Aug. 13, Whitmer stressed the importance of wearing face coverings to reduce the spread and reopen schools this fall. "Youth will not protect you from this virus," Whitmer said. "Your political affiliation will not protect you from this virus. And this virus will not go away just because we’re tired of dealing with it.”

Anyone interested in obtaining free face masks should call the COVID-19 hotline at (888) 535-6136.

Executive Orders also revise workplace safeguards, reopen Detroit casinos

By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued two Executive Orders limiting indoor social gatherings to 10 people and closing bars for indoor service statewide. Workplace safeguards have also been revised and Detroit casinos may reopen at 15 percent capacity.

Beginning July 31, Executive Order 2020-160 limits any indoor gatherings of persons not from same household to 10 throughout the state. Outdoor gatherings remain limited to 100 for all areas except Regions 6 and 8, the Traverse City area and the Upper Peninsula, which is limited to 250 people gathering outdoors.

Bars in every region, including 6 and 8, must close for indoor service if they earn over 70 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages.

“After seeing a resurgence in cases connected to social gatherings across the state, we must further limit gatherings for the health of our community and economy,” Whitmer said in a press release. “By taking these strong actions, we will be better positioned to get our children back into classrooms and avoid a potentially devastating second wave.”

The order also permits Detroit casinos to reopen Aug. 5 at 15 percent capacity with daily entry screening protocols, including temperature checks. Casinos must also provide social distancing between slot machines and staff must wear masks. Patrons must wear a face covering, except while eating or drinking or for identification purposes.

Executive Order 2020-161 revises workplace safeguards.

Click on the links below for the entire Executive Orders:

The Legislature has approved measures designed to resolve a $2.2 billion hole in the state’s current budget with mainly federal money, $350 million from the Rainy Day Fund, fund shifts, and $483 million in cuts. As COVID-19 reaches the highest level since May, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued her two newest executive orders related to wearing masks. One order requires individuals wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces and that businesses open to the public Capital Building Lansing Croppedrefuse entry and/or service for people who refuse to wear masks. The other order requires public safety officers wear masks if it doesn't interfere with them doing their job and requires businesses to ask non-mask wearing customers to confirm they are not able to medically tolerate a mask before entry. The Michigan Civil Service Commission adopted a measure requiring state workers, who are union members, to reauthorize membership annually. Gov. Whitmer created a nursing home task force to recommend how COVID-19 patients should be treated in the event of a second wave of the virus. SB 899, passed by the House, would give the medical community broad immunity protection against potential legal suits dealing with COVID-19 treatment. A ballot committee called Unlock Michigan is attempting to repeal a 1945 law that gives the Michigan Governor emergency powers by sending a proposal to the Legislature for a vote before the end of the year. The State Board of Canvassers (SBC) has okayed the petition and summary language for a petition. Meanwhile, a group called Keep Michigan Safe claims the Board of State Canvassars did not provide proper notice of their vote on Unlock Michigan’s petition.

For more details about these and other legislative issues, please click here for the July 2020 Karoub Report.