Senate approves protections for workers, nursing home residents after court ruling

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved measures that would extend unemployment benefits, assist workers and businesses and protect nursing home residents in the wake of the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent ruling recognizing Gov. Whitmer’s unconstitutional abuse of power during the ongoing pandemic.

“As the coronavirus made its way across Michigan my colleagues in both chambers of the Legislature pleaded with the governor to work with us to take on this pandemic together,” said Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton. “Instead, the governor repeatedly chose to ignore input and go it alone. After the Supreme Court ruled Gov. Whitmer’s actions during the pandemic were unconstitutional, we’re giving her yet another chance to work with us to help those who have been affected by COVID-19.”

Senate Bills 886 and 911 would secure protections for employers and employees alike. SB 886 would protect workers who left work to self-isolate or quarantine and those who are immunocompromised or need to care for a family member diagnosed with COVID-19. The changes remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2020.

SB 911 would allow retirees who returned to work to help the Unemployment Insurance Agency or the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration with the overwhelming number of claims to still be eligible for their retirement allowances.

Also included in the package approved Thursday were SBs 1094 and 1108. SB 1094 would 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. SB 1108 would provide local governments with a method to meet electronically if necessary to conduct business and engage the public.

“In the last few months, the governor has vetoed a long list of bills that would have protected nursing homes from COVID-19, extended unemployment benefits for Michigan workers, protected front-line workers from frivolous lawsuits, delayed tax payments for residents and businesses affected by the virus, and expanded access to affordable child care,” Nesbitt said.

“I hope the governor will join the Legislature and finally begin to work together for Michigan residents. Gov. Whitmer’s reaction to these bills to help the vulnerable and struggling families will tell us whether her priority is helping Michiganders or continuing to govern alone.”

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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