Senate ensures resources, protections during emergency

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would ensure resources and protections are in place for individuals, schools and health care providers during the battle against COVID-19.

“The number of newly reported COVID-19-related deaths and new virus infections is slowing, and recoveries are increasing, but we are by no means out of the woods. We should expect the virus to be around for a while longer,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan. “But even as the virus remains a health risk, the economic toll is getting worse by the day. More than a million workers from our state have lost jobs in the wake of the governor’s shutdown. We have to get people back to work safely, and they should be trusted to do so. The measures approved today will help residents who are affected while also providing clear guidelines for reopening the economy.”

Senate Bill 858 would put several COVID-19 executive orders into law and extend those that need to continue to help efforts to fight the virus and deal with its impacts.

Among the 28 orders included in SB 858 are those regarding expanded unemployment benefits (EO 2020-57), distance learning for schools (EO 2020-35), and liability protections for health care workers treating patients in innovative ways (EO 2020-39).

The bill also would set certain health standards for businesses, places of public accommodation, and places of public service that are open for in-person work through May 30. The standards include following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning provisions and personal protective equipment for employees, avoiding the sharing of tools and equipment, and promoting remote work.

The bill does not include or extend the state of emergency declaration or the governor’s stay-at-home order (EO 2020-59).

“As a co-equal branch of government, the Legislature is trying to work with the governor because representing our districts is our job,” McBroom said. “One person making all the shots, especially in a one-size-fits-all approach, is not working, and the voices of our residents need to be heard as we represent them through the legislative process.”

SB 858 now goes to the governor.

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Sen. Ed McBroom speaks from the Senate floor Thursday evening.