I know this has been said often, but 2020 was a challenging year. We have lost many neighbors, friends, and family – most recently Commissioner Jewel Ware and Sheriff Benny Napoleon. Both were tireless advocates for the people of Wayne County and will be dearly missed. As we weather this most recent loss, the ways in which we have come together during this trying time and supported one another speaks to the character of our community.
I hope that everyone is having a safe and happy holiday season. I know that many of us are and will be celebrating differently this year, and the safest option is to celebrate with members of your household. However, if you choose to gather with family and friends, please remember to wear a mask and stay safe.
While legislative offices remain closed to the public, my team and I are still providing responsive service as we work from home. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (517) 373-0823 or by email at TyroneCarter@house.mi.gov if we can help.
State Representative, 6th House District
COVID Relief Passes House
The Michigan House has just passed $465 million in COVID-19 relief for Michigan residents and local small businesses, including:
- $220 million to continue unemployment benefits for 26 weeks (up from 20 weeks);
- More than $55 million for COVID-19 vaccine administration and planning;
- $55 million for small business survival grants;
- $45 million in employee assistance grants for workers who have been laid off because of COVID-19 business closures;
- $22.5 million for COVID-19 testing and rapid response;
- $100 million to continue $2/hour in additional pay for direct care workers;
- $15 million to hospitals and long-term care facilities for additional staffing and reimbursement for housing COVID-19 patients
- $2.5 million for hazard pay for educators left out of previous hazard payments, including Great Start Readiness Preschool teachers, special education teachers, and adult education teachers; and
- $3.5 million for entertainment venues that have not been able to hold events since March.
Senate Bill 748 passed the Senate last week and is headed to Gov. Whitmer’s desk for her signature. The House also passed Senate Bill 604, which continues the extension of unemployment benefits through March 31, 2021.
While these bills are far from perfect, they address many of the most immediate needs facing our communities in this moment. While this is a good step, it is only a first step in our continued efforts to keep Michigan families and businesses on their feet now and after this crisis is behind us.
Updated MDHHS Epidemic Orders
On Friday, Dec. 18, the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order to begin a cautious re-opening of certain indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked, modifying the successful “pause” to save lives. This updated epidemic order will take effect Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, lasting until Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.
With promising reductions in the spread of COVID-19, MDHHS’ updated epidemic order is aimed at beginning a cautious reopening while closely monitoring the impacts. These actions still require us to move with care, patience and vigilance, recognizing the grave harm COVID-19 continues to inflict on our communities and state, and how quickly our progress in suppressing it can be undone. As these steps are taken, the surest way to maintain our momentum in controlling the spread of this pandemic is to open lower risk venues first, and gradually, rather than all at once. By taking deliberate steps and closely monitoring the data, we can ensure Michigan remains on the path to recovery in the new year.
The updated epidemic order allows indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked, including in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues. Casinos, bowling centers and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen with total capacity capped at 100; with food and drink concessions closed and social distancing requirements remaining in place.
Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, but all other organized sports must not resume.
The updated extension continues to leave open work that can’t be performed from home, including manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.
Teachers, childcare workers and health care professionals continue to serve on the front lines ensuring support for Michiganders across our state. We must take this updated epidemic order seriously, not only for our own loved ones, but for every hero risking their life and the health of their family as we continue to battle this ongoing crisis.
With as quickly as things change, I know that this can be a confusing time for all of us. Be sure to regularly check Michigan.gov/coronavirus and CDC.gov/coronavirus for the latest information. If you have additional questions about what the state is doing to mitigate the spread of the virus you can call Michigan’s COVID-19 Hotline at (888) 535-6136 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email COVID19@michigan.gov and your questions will be answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Marathon Petroleum Buying Property Near Detroit Refinery
Marathon recently announced that it will be spending $5 million to buy property in the Boynton neighborhood near their Detroit refinery. They have pledged that they have no plans to expand the refinery and that this move is intended to create a “green zone” as a buffer to protect residents from pollutants and other negative impacts on quality of life that accompany living near the refinery. Marathon plans to purchase roughly 40 occupied homes, as well as 180 vacant homes or lots, before demolishing the structures to create the green zone.
I am very pleased by this move after joining residents to advocate for this buyout program. Our community already holds the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most polluted zip codes in the state, and members of the neighborhoods surrounding the refinery have expressed serious concerns about the air quality being even worse near their homes. This is an important step in the continued revitalization of our community and will improve the lives of many of our friends and neighbors.