After a year of strict lockdowns imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Senate wants to codify rules for business closings in the event of another epidemic.
“If this state has a test positivity rate of less than 3% for not less than 7 consecutive days or if less than 3% of hospital beds in this state are being used to treat individuals with coronavirus for not less than 7 consecutive days, the emergency order must not place a limitation on indoor dining occupancy or on a meeting or event held at the qualified establishment,” SB 250 says.
Similarly, the bill establishes requirements for executive orders that would limit business closures if positivity rates are between three to seven percent, and more than 10 percent. The bill can be viewed as a mechanism for preemptively limiting the unilateral powers of the executive in the event of a pandemic.
It passed the Senate 20-15, and now heads to the House.
Sen. Jon Bumstead, (R-Newaygo) introduced the bill.
“Our restaurants are begging for a lifeline to survive,” Bumstead said. “They aren’t asking for handouts or special treatment. They’re asking to know what the rules of the game are so they can put forth a plan of care for their customers.”
Whitmer has been widely criticized by Republicans for her response to the pandemic, which has been marked by strict lockdowns.
This week, she vetoed a bill that would have limited MDHHS’ ability to make pandemic mandates. That bill would have limited such executive orders to 28 days unless they were extended by the legislature. Whitmer long ago lost her emergency powers, after they were stripped by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Recently, she also faced scrutiny from Republican lawmakers for her handling of nursing home patients. Lawmakers have asked the federal government to investigate whether her policies led to unnecessary deaths. New York’s Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing a federal investigation for similar policies.
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