Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates on the state’s efforts to address COVID-19, as well as other news from your state government.
Gov. Whitmer Delivers Third State of the State Address
Last night, Gov. Whitmer delivered her third State of the State address. The governor focused on finding common ground to grow our state’s economy and protect public health, and she urged the Legislature to pass the MI COVID Recovery Plan (see below). Gov. Whitmer highlighted several other programs and priorities, including:
- The MI Clean Water Plan, which will invest $500 million in Michigan’s water infrastructure and support over 7,500 jobs;
- The MI Classroom Heroes Grant Program, which will provide grants of up to $500 for teachers and support staff. These grants will be distributed in February from funds approved by the Legislature in December of 2020;
- The Good Jobs for Michigan Plan, a business incentive that will help retain and grow businesses in Michigan and help create jobs;
- A permanent $2 raise for direct care workers, which the Legislature previously approved through Feb. 28;
- A permanent extension of unemployment insurance benefits from 20 to 26 weeks;
- A weighted school-funding formula that allocates more funding to students with special needs, economically disadvantaged kids, and English language learners; and
- A goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders age 16 and older by injecting 50,000 shots in the arm per day.
This annual speech is usually delivered in the House Chambers during a joint session of the Legislature. However, ongoing concerns about spreading COVID-19 led to Gov. Whitmer’s decision to give the first-ever virtual address. The full State of the State address and fact sheets on each of the governor’s policy proposals can be found here.
MDHHS Extends Revised Version of Epidemic Order
Beginning on Feb. 1, indoor dining will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity with a maximum capacity of 100 people. Additionally, the following continue to be required:
- “Higher risk recreation activities” like indoor water parks, night clubs, strip clubs, and trampoline parks are closed;
- Fitness facilities are limited to 25 percent capacity and must maintain at least six feet of social distancing between workout stations;
- Retailers, libraries, and museums are limited to 30 percent occupancy;
- Funerals are limited to 25 people;
- Indoor gatherings cannot include members of more than two households and are limited to 10 people; and
- Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people.
The following continues to be permitted under the most recent Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order:
- High schools, colleges, and universities can return to in-person learning at the school district or institution’s discretion. (Elementary and middle schools were not required to pause in-person learning.)
- Extracurricular activities are allowed as long as face masks can be worn and the activity does not involve physical contact or a high degree of exhalation or physical exertion indoors;
- Group fitness activities and classes can take place;
- Ice rinks are open except for organized contact sports and swimming pools are open for exercise; and
- “Low risk entertainment facilities” like theaters, movie theaters, concert halls, performance venues, sporting venues, stadiums, the three Detroit casinos, arcades, bowling centers, amusement parks, and bingo halls can operate at a limited capacity.
This order is effective through Feb 21. More information can be found at michigan.gov/coronavirus.
Gov. Whitmer Shares MI COVID Recovery Plan
Last week, Gov. Whitmer announced the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan. This $5.6 billion plan provides funding for vaccine distribution, education and the economy. The state of Michigan will provide half a million dollars of this funding, and the rest comes from federal funds. Some of the highlights of the plan include $2 billion for food assistance programs, $90 million for vaccine distribution and $2 million for schools.
State Budget Projections Better Than Expected
The first Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference of 2021 was held last week. The CREC estimates the sources of revenue the State will have available for the rest of this fiscal year, next fiscal year and beyond. The State did not see the budget shortfall that was expected this fiscal year due to the federal aid Michigan has received since the last CREC in August. While this is good news, it is not an indication that Michigan’s budget is in the clear. Experts at the conference warned that there should be caution moving ahead because of variables on the horizon such as COVID-19 cases, vaccine distribution, and federal stimulus spikes and dips.
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) 373-0587 or by email at email@example.com if we can help.