Hillsdale College Defies Governor’s Shutdown, Holds Outdoor Commencement Ceremony

Hillsdale College hosted a three-day commencement event despite coronavirus restrictions. The private Michigan college hosted a dinner for graduates Thursday night, a party for seniors Friday night, and an outdoor graduation ceremony on Saturday.

In a statement released in April, Hillsdale College Provost Christopher VanOrman said, “We could not say goodbye to our graduating seniors without celebrating their accomplishments. We look forward to having them return to us for a three-day-long celebration.”

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Gov. Whitmer Rebuffs Trump: ‘There Is No Reason for the President to Send Federal Troops’ to Detroit

President Trump on Monday threatened to send federal law enforcement into several cities, including Detroit, in order to quell continuing unrest there.

Trump recently sent federal law enforcement to Portland to break up protesters, who had approached a federal courthouse and set a fire outside of it, according to The Detroit News. He said that the federal officers had done “a fantastic job in a very short time.”

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Michigan Investigates Alleged Shakedown By Unemployment Agency Workers Accused of Stealing Benefits

The State of Michigan is investigating whether new employees of the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) are stealing funds from jobless residents, multiple media outlets report.

The workers are accused of stealing and charging clients to receive their benefits more quickly, WDIV reported. This is happening even as Michigan is among several states experiencing fraudulent claims being submitted, and they temporarily stopped payments.

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Michigan Diverts a Third of All Gas Tax Revenues Away from Road Repairs

Every U.S. state taxes fuel sales to fund road repairs.  

Fully half of them, however, divert a portion of those taxes for other purposes. And Michigan, with a gas-tax diversion rate (GTDR) of 33.9 percent, is ranked with New Jersey as the third highest GTDR in the nation. Only New York (37.5 percent) and Rhode Island (37.1 percent) have higher GTDRs.

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Scrutiny Intensifies as Congressional Republicans Probe Michigan’s COVID-19 Reponse

senior citizen

Congressional Republicans intensified their questioning of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s nursing home policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent a letter asking Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate the impact of Whitmer’s executive orders that placed COVID-19 patients into the same buildings, but different units, as elderly nursing home residents.

They also sought investigations into four other state governors who set similar policies.

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Federal Judge asks Michigan Supreme Court to Decide Emergency Power Questions

A federal judge asked the Michigan Supreme Court to settle questions regarding whether Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has the authority to issue executive orders under two state laws.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney certified two questions to the Michigan Supreme Court.

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Civil Service Commission Proposes Rule Changes for Union Dues Authorization and Service Fee Collection

The Michigan Civil Service Commission last Friday issued a notice of proposed changes in the how unions collect money from state employees.

The two proposed changes pertain to payroll deduction of union dues, discontinuing of union service fees, and authorization to collect union dues from employees.

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Michigan Supreme Court Tosses Owosso Barber’s Order to Close

The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled overturned a lower court’s order that directed 77-year-old Owosso barber Karl Manke to close his shop.

The top court said the Court of Appeals erred in its 2-1 decision.

Justice David Viviano said a split decision couldn’t grant peremptory relief. He said the court should have held a full briefing and oral arguments.

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Whitmer Lifts Michigan Stay-at-Home Order

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday, moving the entire state to phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan.

Under the new phase, retail will be allowed to open on June 4 and restaurants will be allowed to reopen on June 8, both with capacity limits. Day camps, office work, outdoor pools and in-home services such as housecleaning will also reopen.

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Whitmer Says She Censors Herself So Trump Won’t Cancel Aid to Michigan

by Mary Margaret Olohan   Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she censors her criticisms of President Donald Trump to ensure that Michigan continues to receive aid from the federal government. Asked in an Axios interview if she censors her comments about POTUS “for the sake of continuing to receive federal assistance,”…

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer Refuses to Apologize for Coronavirus Restrictions, Says ‘I’m Not Changing the Way I Run This State’

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that she will not change the way she runs Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Michigan governor discussed her coronavirus restrictions and the protests that have erupted against her executive orders during an interview with Fox News.

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Michigan Facing Estimated $3 Billion in Revenue Losses this Fiscal Year

Michigan is facing a grim outlook for the state’s economic future.

Legislators are divided over whether the crisis requires severe budget cuts or a federal bailout to fix.

Lawmakers are facing a projected $6.2 billion drop in revenue over the next two fiscal years.

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Industry Leaders Warn Hundreds of Businesses Won’t Survive Reopening Plan, Extended Stay-Home Order

Michigan business leaders are concerned some businesses won’t survive Michigan’s mandated closures by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which she extended yesterday through at least May 28.

Whitmer announced a plan to reopen the economy Thursday but provided no dates, other than for manufacturing, for when additional businesses could reopen.

Michigan Chamber President and CEO Rich Studley said the order “may be a foreclosure notice” for many small and seasonal businesses.

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Hundreds of Protestors Gather Inside Michigan Capitol Building Thursday Against Continued Government Overreach

Hundreds gathered outside and inside Michigan’s Capitol building Thursday to protest government overreach in the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown.

There were no reports of arrests, though some media outlets styled the event with armed protestors as “storming” the Capitol

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Gov. Whitmer on Bankruptcy Comments: ‘It’s Outrageous for Senator McConnell to Even Suggest That’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Sunday that bankruptcy is not an option for Michigan in response to comments last week from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Whitmer appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. Stephanopoulos asked her if default was on the table for Michigan.

“No, and it’s outrageous for Senator McConnell to even suggest that,” Whitmer said. “But that’s what the matter is. Our general fund budget when adjusted for the inflation is the same size it was during – when Richard Nixon was our president. We have been incredibly smart stewards and we have not made some of the investments I think we should have as a state because of this artificially low number that we’ve been working with.”

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Whitmer Creates Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities on Monday in an effort to study how the coronavirus pandemic has “disproportionately impacted communities of color” throughout Michigan.

Although African Americans represent just 13.6 percent of Michigan’s population, they make up 40 percent of deaths from the coronavirus. Nearly 80 percent of residents of the City of Detroit, the area most impacted by the coronavirus, are African American, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Amash to Whitmer: ‘Immediately Reassess’ Restrictive Order; Other Resistance Grows

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash says Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive order “goes too far and will erode confidence in her leadership.”

The libertarian is referencing Whitmer’s extended and expanded executive order that banned Michiganders from traveling to a second residence inside the state through April 30, operating a motorized boat and buying furniture, paint and plants from stores larger than 50,000 square feet.

That includes the “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” pillows in one Lansing Walmart.

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Michiganders Growing Weary of Gov. Whitmer’s Mounting COVID-19 Restrictions

As Michigan adopts a new phase of government-imposed restrictions on businesses and personal behavior to stem the spread of COVID-19, residents and politicians are registering increased opposition.

Negative reactions stem from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, which declared many businesses “nonessential” and threatened $1,000 fines for people violating the six-foot social distancing rules.

Those edicts took effect on March 24, and were set to expire on April 13. On Thursday, however, the governor extended her executive orders to April 30 – and added tighter restrictions on personal travel and businesses previously declared essential.

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Michigan Lawmaker Asks Governor to Allow Some Businesses to Reopen If They Adhere to Social Distancing Guidelines

State Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona) asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow some nonessential businesses to reopen if they follow social distancing guidelines.

Cole sent a letter to Whitmer on Monday, claiming her stay-at-home order hurt small businesses, including those in the construction and landscaping industry. Both of those industries, said Cole, allowed workers to work safely while staying apart from each other.

“I certainly understand where our governor is coming from. Public safety must always be the main priority,” Cole said in a statement. “However, keeping people employed and businesses operating must also be a priority.”

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CARES Act Extends Michigan’s Unemployment Benefits to Self-Employed, Independent Contractors, and More

The state and the U.S. Department of Labor agreed to expand unemployment benefits to Michigan workers who previously didn’t qualify.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the agreement Monday. The benefits extension will be funded by the $2 trillion federal CARES Act President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday.

The extension includes self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can no longer work because of temporary business closures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Gov. Whitmer Suspends Michigan Water Shut-Offs

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order to reconnect residents’ water services that had been shut off.

The governor signed the $2 million Water Restart Grant Program on Saturday. The suspension of the public utility shut-offs were mandated effective immediately.

“This is a critical step both for the health of families living without a reliable water source, and for slowing the spread of the Coronavirus,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We continue to work to provide all Michiganders – regardless of their geography or income level – the tools they need to keep themselves and their communities protected.”

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Whitmer Suspends Parts of Open Meeting Act, Faces Pushback

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order temporarily suspending parts of the Open Meetings Act (OMA), so public groups can meet electronically through April 15.

“We are taking every measure we can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect Michigan families, but recognize that public bodies still have an obligation to conduct business as usual,” Whitmer said in a news release.

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House Bill Package Looks to Find $800 Million Annually to Fix Local Roads Without Tax Hike

road construction

A House bill package seeks to put about $800 million annually into local roads without a 45-cent gas tax hike or increasing future debt.

The six-bill package, if enacted, would eliminate the six percent sales tax on fuel over three years and replace it with another excise tax that would fund the 92 percent of local roads that aren’t touched by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $3.5 billion bonding plan.

Much of that bonding money would go to repair roads in Metro Detroit.

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Michigan’s Gas Tax Hike of 45 Cents Likely Dead, Democrat Says, While Critics Point Out 24 Percent of New Revenue Would Not Support Roads

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 45-cent fuel tax is likely out of gas, House Democratic Leader Christine Greig said, even as some attack Democrats’ statements that all of the $2.5 billion generated would be spent on roads.

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