Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has advised local election clerks that openly carrying firearms at polling places is not allowed on Election Day and they are to contact law enforcement if it occurs. Meanwhile, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that mailed absentee ballots need to be in the hands of local clerks before 8 p.m. on Election Capital Building Lansing CroppedDay, Nov. 3 without any extension for ballots postmarked before the election. Soon after the Supreme Court’s ruling against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s use of the 1945 Emergency Powers of Governor Act, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has largely reinstated aspects of the governor's COVID-19 emergency orders under the Michigan Health Code. The governor also issued new emergency rules from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) to continue to handle COVID-19. Whitmer signed Senate Bills 886 and 991, which extend unemployment benefits for people who have lost work due to COVID-19, from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of year. The Senate unanimously passed HB 6137 that would require DHHS to publicly report weekly the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in nursing homes starting Nov. 15. A Court of Claims lawsuit has been filed against the governor's use of the executive branch to “issue and enforce emergency orders” the Michigan Supreme Court ruled illegal.

For additional information on these issues and the latest legislative news, please click here for the October 2020 Karoub Report.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer approved three emergency rules requiring all employers to follow COVID-19 workplace safety measures and provide protections for frontline workers.

The Emergency Rules were signed following the Michigan Supreme Court decision Oct. 2 which nullified all of the governor’s COVID-19 emergency orders issued after April 30.

Gov. Whitmer signed workers’ compensation emergency rules which clarify compensation for health care employees and first responders who test positive for COVID-19. These employees, including emergency medical services, law enforcement and fire safety workers among others, are presumed eligible for coverage under the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act. Employees must have a physician diagnosis or a presumed positive test result.

“These brave men and women have been on the front lines of this pandemic, putting themselves at risk to protect our families,” Whitmer said. “These emergency rules will provide some crucial support for these workers who are most susceptible to contracting COVID-19.”

Make your voices heard, request or cast your ballot today

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor, with excerpts from news media

With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Emergency Powers revoked by a Michigan Supreme Court ruling Oct. 2, the state’s health department has issued an emergency order with mask mandates, social distancing and group gathering limits.

The state’s highest court ruled 4-3 that the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act is unconstitutional. Whitmer based her authority to declare states of emergency in response to COVID-19 on the 1945 Act, without the approval of state lawmakers. The court also ruled the 1976 Emergency Management Act did not give Whitmer the power to issue or renew executive orders related to the pandemic after April 30.

While Whitmer and legislators wait for clarification regarding when her emergency powers end and what happens next, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued emergency orders Oct. 5 and Oct. 9. The orders require masks be worn at indoor and outdoor gatherings of people from different households, in public spaces and childcare facilities. They limit gathering sizes and place capacity limits on stores, bars and other public venues and provide safety protocols for workplaces, schools and sports. These orders are in effect through Oct. 30, according to MDHHS officials. Violators face a misdemeanor of imprisonment up to six months and/or a fine of $200 or a civil fine up to $1,000.

Click here for the Oct. 5, 2020  MDHHS COVID-19 emergency order.
Click here for the Oct. 9, 2020 MDHHS COVID-19 emergency order.
Click here for Karoub Associates memo regarding the Supreme Court ruling aftermath.

While legal details are being sorted out, one thing is for certain - voters can make their voices heard loud and clear in the Presidential Election on Nov. 3 or before. Absentee ballots can be requested by any registered voter without providing a reason. Elections workers are asking voters to request absentee ballots now and either put them in the mail as soon as possible or drop them off at their local clerk’s office, many of which have drop boxes.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Orders reopening movie theaters, bowling alleys, performance venues and more while increasing indoor and outdoor gathering limits effective Oct. 9.

Executive Order 2020-183 allows for the statewide reopening of indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks, and more.

Non-residential indoor gatherings and events increased from a maximum of 10 people to a limit of 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in Michigan’s largest venues. Face coverings are required indoors. Non-residential outdoor gatherings and events increased from 100 people limit to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people. Regions 6 and 8 are subject to the same rules covered in the revised MI Safe Start order, except non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in the regions’ largest venues.

Whitmer also signed Executive Order 2020-185, which requires K-5 students wear face coverings in classrooms in MI Safe Start Regions 1-5 and 7. She also updated the prior order on workplace safeguards to reflect these changes with Executive Order 2020-184.

State Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens ruled ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 must be counted. Under the ruling, late-arriving mail-in ballots could still be counted until results must be certified, 14 days after the election. Currently, only ballots that arrive before Election Day polls close can be counted; Local governments and school Capital Building Lansing Croppeddistricts will be spared budget cuts in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 under a target agreement on spending parameters reached by legislative leaders and Budget Director Chris Kolb; In a Lansing State Journal Viewpoint column last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wrote the following regarding lifting the COVID-19 Emergency Order, “While it would be irresponsible to forecast a date, it’s a matter of months.” She said that decision would be based on: a low number of new cases, sufficient dispersal of a vaccine, availability of therapeutics, a better understanding of immunity, or a combination of these and other considerations; The Senate is expected to take up jail reform bills this week that would reduce some offenses from misdemeanors to civil infractions, and seek to divert more offenders from jail to treatment programs; The Michigan House is expected to finalize an aggressive agenda late Thursday evening (Sept. 23) before recessing until mid-November; For the second time, the Michigan Capitol Commission has rejected motions for weapons bans in the state Capitol building, saying they first want to meet with House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake); The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced residents in certain types of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, independent living facilities, and assisted living facilities, are allowed outdoor visits; Gov. Whitmer announced applications are open for a free college tuition plan. Some 625,000 Michigan essential workers who put time in during the COVID-19 lockdown, but do not already have a degree, may be eligible for free college.

For more information on recent legislative issues, please click on the September 2020 Karoub Report.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF 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 Capital Building Lansing Croppedstatewide, Gov. 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, MAFF 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, MAFF 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 Capital Building Lansing Croppedpublic refuse 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.

Businesses must ask medical reason for not wearing masks

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order clarifying mask rules for the state, which include public safety officers being required to wear face coverings unless it seriously interferes with them doing their jobs.

Executive Order 2020-153 also states businesses must ask customers to confirm their medical reason for not wearing a mask. This clarifies her previous mask order, Executive Order 2020-147, which requires individuals wear face coverings inside public places and outdoors in crowded areas where social distancing isn't possible.

Exceptions to the face covering rules include:

  • Children under age five.
  • People who cannot medically tolerate face coverings.
  • People exercising in a way that wearing a mask would interfere with the activity.
  • People eating or drinking while seated in a food service establishment.
  • Voters at a polling place during an election.

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI) introduced legislation to ensure fire fighters who are exposed to toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals at military bases receive the health care they need through the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).

Military fire fighters exposed to firefighting foam containing PFAS are not currently guaranteed health care to respond to that exposure, which has been linked to cancer and internal organ problems. This legislation would require the VA to cover treatment for fire fighters with health conditions associated with PFAS chemicals exposure.

Click here for the complete press release from Rep. Dan Kildee's office.