Board of State Canvassers Wants a Full Count of the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s Petition Signatures
On April 2nd, 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that state election officials were wrong to reject the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan's (CBFM) petition in 2018, despite referring to the wrong election date. CBFM then submitted the collected signatures to the Secretary of State's office in Lansing on May 1, 2020
On May 25, the Board of State Canvassers voted unanimously to direct the Bureau of Elections to do a full review of the signatures. By CBFM’s own account, only 29,392 signatures collected by the CBFM fall within the 180-day window of the effective Nov. 5, 2018 filing date. This would be 223,131 signatures short of the minimum needed for this petition, which is being treated like it was filed in November 2018, back when the minimum number of signatures needed to be considered on the ballot was 252,523. The rest of the signatures collected outside of the 180-day window for petitioning would be considered stale and would not count towards the 252,523 signatures needed.
MOGA will keep you updated as this story continues to develop.
EGLE Provides Guidance on Flushing Plumbing at Businesses and Facilities Prior to Restarting Operations
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is reminding property managers throughout the state to be prepared to properly flush the plumbing of facilities that have been temporarily closed in response to the state’s efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Statewide efforts to slow the spread of the virus have resulted in the closure or limited use of many buildings, such as restaurants and other businesses. This can lead to low or no use of water in these facilities. Water that sits unmoving in building plumbing for extended periods is at increased risk for leaching of metals (such as lead), reduced effectiveness of water treatment chemicals and bacterial growth.Read more
The State has released a new, online dashboard today that visually illustrates COVID-19 risks and trends in Michigan, providing residents with important information about the pandemic status where they live and work.
Developed through a collaboration between the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and Economic Opportunity and the University of Michigan, dashboard data is divided into Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) regions.
MERC regions were developed by merging Michigan's Emergency Preparedness Regions and Michigan's labor sheds – the major areas of the state where people live and travel to work based on U.S. Department of Labor data – so that any outbreak resulting from a return to work could be handled effectively under public health laws.
The COVID-19 data displayed on the dashboard represents publicly available case, death and test data analyzed to determine overall level of risk and key trends. Graphs, numbers and trends provide a snapshot of how much virus is in a community, and whether it is increasing or decreasing.
Risk levels were developed by MDHHS and the U-M School of Public Health using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, national Guidelines for Opening America and several other leading national organizations.
“The risk levels tell us whether there is high, medium or low risk of COVID-19 spread in a community and can help highlight areas where more social distancing may be needed, or where vulnerable individuals should be particularly careful,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.
The dashboard, designed and created by faculty at U-M School of Information and School of Public Health, presents risk and capacity indicators that inform implementation of the MI Safe Start Plan. These indicators fall into three categories: epidemic spread, health system capacity and public health capacity. Each indicator displays a level of risk. These indicators, along with other epidemiologic information, inform the overall risk level for a region. It also incorporates on-the-ground knowledge, such as whether new cases of COVID-19 are localized to a single outbreak or represent community wide spread.
In addition to these risk and capacity indicators, other considerations such as the availability of mitigation measures, the risk posed by certain activities and other economic factors also inform decisions under the MI Safe Start Plan.
On Friday, May 22nd, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-100 to extend Michigan’s Safer at Home order until June 12, 2020. The governor’s order also protects Michiganders from the spread of COVID-19 by extending the temporary closure of certain places of public accommodation such as theaters, gyms, and casinos.
The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-99 to extend the state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was upheld by Judge Cynthia Stephens on May 21, 2020. The governor’s emergency declaration is extended until June 19, 2020.
“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet. If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home,” said Governor Whitmer. “If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed. While we ﬁnally have more protective equipment like masks, we can’t run the risk of running low again. We owe it to the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis – our first responders, health care workers, and critical workers putting their lives on the line every day – to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of the virus.”
Executive Order 2020-100 also clarifies and, as necessary, extends the duration of a number of previous executive orders designed to protect Michiganders and to provide them the support they need. The extended orders cover protections for workers who stay home and stay safe when they or their close contacts are sick, restoring water service to those whose water has been shut off, the affirmation of non-discrimination policies in the provision of COVID-19 care, and more.
The E.O's extended under Executive Order 2020-100 include,
- Executive Order 2020-26. (Extension of April 2020 Michigan Income Tax Filing Deadlines)
- Executive Order 2020-28. (Restoring water service to occupied residences)
- Executive Order 2020-36. (Worker Protections)
- Executive Order 2020-39. (Temporary relief from certain restrictions and requirements governing the provision of emergency medical services)
- Executive Order 2020-58. (Temporary suspension of certain timing requirements relating to the commencement of civil and probate actions and proceedings)
- Executive Order 2020-61. (Temporary relief from certain restrictions and requirements governing the provision of medical services)
- Executive Order 2020-64 (Affirming anti-discrimination policies and requiring certain health care providers to develop equitable access to care protocols)
- Executive Order 2020-76 (Temporary expansions in unemployment eligibility and cost-sharing)
“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again,” said Governor Whitmer. “We’ve already loosened some restrictions on construction, manufacturing, landscaping, retail, and more. But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we've made.”
On Friday, May 22nd Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-102, which extends the temporary suspension of Michigan’s Reid Vapor Pressure standards and permits the transportation and sale of gasolines with a higher Reid vapor pressure across the state.
“Michigan has faced unprecedented times in the face of COVID-19, and businesses and workers across the state have stepped up to do their part,” said Governor Whitmer. “By extending my previous executive order, we can ensure we have the necessary supplies needed to fuel our response efforts, as well as ensure Michigan families also have affordable access so they can continue to put food on the table. We will get through this together.”
Without an extension of the summer gasoline waiver, a shortage of gasoline would result, causing higher prices at the pump and making it harder for families already struggling with the economic impacts to put food on the table. It could also cause longer lines at services stations across the state, increasing in-person interactions and putting lives at risk.
In order to reduce these hardships and suppress the spread of COVID-19, gasoline received at retail on or before May 31 that does not meet the June 1 vapor pressure standard, as outlined in Motor Fuels Quality Act of 1984, as amended, The Motor Fuels Quality Act section 10d (MCLA 290.650D), Regulation No. 561 Dispensing Facility Vapor Pressure R285.561.2 (Rule 2) and R285.561.3 (Rule 3), or Regulation No. 564 Automotive Motor Fuel Purity, Additives, and Grading R285.564.4 (Rule 4 Table 5) may be sold through June 30, 2020.
Any gasoline received at retail on or after June 1, 2020 shall meet at time of delivery the vapor pressure requirements outlined in the Motor Fuels Quality Act of 1984, as amended, The Motor Fuels Quality Act section 10d (MCLA 290.650D), Regulation No. 561 Dispensing Facility Vapor Pressure R285.561.2 (Rule 2) and R285.561.3 (Rule 3), or Regulation No. 564 Automotive Motor Fuel Purity, Additives, and Grading R285.564.4 (Rule 4 Table 5).
Gasoline that does not meet the vapor pressure requirements, as specified above, may be introduced into terminal storage tanks until May 20, 2020. Any gasoline not meeting the requirements may continue to be distributed to retailers through May 31, 2020.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for the enforcement of the Motor Fuels Quality Act and this Executive Order.
Gatherings of 10 or Fewer Permitted, Retail Businesses Open by Appointment, and Nonessential Medical, Dental and Veterinary Procedures Allowed Under Newly Released Order
On Thursday May 21st, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26, as part of her MI Safe Start plan. The governor’s executive order also lifts the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide beginning on Friday, May 29. Additionally, the order authorizes small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.
The governor also signed a separate order, Executive Order 2020-97, updating a prior rule on workplace safety. Per the amended order, reopened outpatient health-care facilities, including clinics, primary care physician offices, and dental offices, will have to adopt strict protocols to prevent infection. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will issue guidance to aid those facilities in adopting appropriate safeguards.
Consistent with the governor’s previous Safer at Home orders, any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth—like a homemade mask, scarf, bandanna, or handkerchief—when in any enclosed public space. Michiganders who are not working as critical infrastructure workers or at a business that has been authorized to reopen are still recommended to stay home to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19.
Today, May 18th, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-91. The order establishs new requirements for employers that are permitted to conduct in-person operations. Additionally, the Governor has signed Executive Directive 2020-06, to appoint a Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO).
Under Executive Order 2020-91, businesses that resume in-person work must, among other things,
- Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan consistent with OSHA guidance and by June 1st or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, make that plan readily available to employees, labor unions and customers whether via website, internal network, or by hard copy.
- Designate one or more worksite supervisors to implement, monitor and report on COVID-19 control strategies. A designated supervisor must remain on-site at all times when employees are present.
- Notify the local public health department of an employee identified with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within 24 hours, as well as any co-workers, contractors or suppliers who may have come into contact with that person.
- Establish a response plan for dealing with a confirmed infection in the workplace.
- Maintain a record of required employee training, daily entry self-screening and handling of confirmed employee cases of COVID-19.
Businesses must also provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.
Under Executive Directive 2020-6, all departments and agencies with responsibility for enforcing workplace health and safety standards to enforce the requirements of Executive Order 2020-91 and to coordinate with the new Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety.
The Straits of Mackinac Alliance, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the City of Mackinac Island have agreed to dismiss their case against the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) challenging Enbridge’s ability to install screw anchors on its Line 5 dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The anchors are a critical part of Enbridge’s ongoing Line 5 safety and maintenance program.
The groups’ decision to dismiss their case follows a ruling by an administrative law judge in February in which the judge dismissed most of their claims. The groups’ challenge had sought to invalidate EGLE’s decision to issue permits authorizing the installation of additional anchors that physically secure Line 5 to the lakebed.
Since 2002, Enbridge has installed 181 supports on Line 5 and plans to install an additional 20 supports this year. The supports and Enbridge’s other maintenance and safety measures ensure the Straits are protected and energy keeps flowing to those who depend on it every day.
Regional Reopening Set to Begin in Michigan This Friday with Restrictions Loosened in Parts of Northern Michigan
Governor Whitmer Reopens Retail, Restaurants, and Offices in Upper Peninsula, Traverse City Regions
Businesses that reopen must adopt workplace safety measures to protect employees, customers
Today, May 18th, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-92, allowing for the reopening, in two regions, of retail businesses, office work that cannot be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating. The two regions are both in the northern part of the state—specifically, MERC regions 6 and 8, as detailed in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy. These reopened regions would be moving into phase four in the MI Safe Start Plan.
The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships may choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.
Region 6 in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan includes the following counties: Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, and Emmet.
Region 8 in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan includes the following counties: Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa.
“This is a big step, but we must all remember to continue doing our part to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “It’s crucial that all businesses do everything in their power to protect their workers, customers, and their families. And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, I encourage everyone to be smart and be safe. My team and I will continue to work around the clock to protect the people of Michigan.”
“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6 foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.”
All businesses that will reopen in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91. That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.
The order also allows social gatherings of up to 10 people in the reopened regions. When asked in today's press conference, the Governor said overnight lodging like campgrounds and rentals were not included in the order at this time. MOGA will keep you informed as additional guidance is released.
On Friday May 15th, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application.
The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.
The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:
- Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles
- Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan
- Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness
- Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
- Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined
The PPP was created by the CARES Act to provide forgivable loans to eligible small businesses to keep American workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document linked below will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight week covered period, which begins with the disbursement of their loans.