Governor Whitmer Extends Executive Orders Enabling Remote Transactions, Easing Fuel Tax Requirements for Transporting Essential Personnel and Supplies
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs Executive Orders 2020-73 and 2020-74, which extend two Executive Orders signed last month to help protect the health and safety of all Michiganders during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Continue to temporarily allow e-signatures on official documents and remote notarizations to avoid unnecessary in-person contact.
- Continue to temporarily suspend licensing, decal and trip permit requirements used by the Department of Treasury to collect taxes owed by motor carriers.
The new orders take immediate effect. Executive Order 2020-73 (motor carriers) continues through June 2, while Executive Order 2020-74 continues through June 30.
Executive Order 2020-74 temporarily suspends requirements for in-person notarizations, and allows transactions that require a notary to be completed via two-way, real-time audiovisual technology. The order also extends the validity of notary commissions until June 30, 2020. It also permits the use of electronic signatures in all cases, except in rare circumstances when a physical signature is required.
Executive Order 2020-73, temporarily suspends motor carrier licensure requirements, including certain decals and trip permits related to collection of certain fuel taxes.
May 22, 1:00 - 2:00 PM
In this webinar, attendees will learn about the ECT2 Ion Exchange Treatment System used to treat PFAS compounds found at fire foam contaminated sites. The state of Michigan has also approved funding to collect and dispose of PFAS containing foam from across Michigan. The collection is a seven-month program that provides for safe disposal of more than 30,000 gallons of firefighting foam across Michigan. Learn what has been collected so far and how your community can participate in the disposal program.
House Speaker Lee Chatfield, (R-Levering), and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, (R-Clarklake), announced the anticipated lawsuit in the state Court of Claims in a press conference on Wednesday, May 6th.
"We’ve attempted to partner with our governor, but she’s rejected," Chatfield wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "We offered cooperation, but instead she chose court. This was avoidable, but today we filed a lawsuit in our state to challenge her unconstitutional actions. The law in Michigan is clear, and nobody is above it.
"The Governor's actions leaves us little choice, but to file a lawsuit and seek clarification in the courts, " Shirkey said.
This suit comes just under a week after the Governor and the legislature were unable to come to an agreement on an extension of the state's emergency declaration (see Governor Whitmer and Legislative Leaders Clash on Extension of Emergency Declaration). On April 30th, the Governor bypassed the legislature and issued three new executive orders, declaring a state of emergency and state of disaster across the state through May 28th, 2020. The Governor used her executive order powers under the state's 1945 emergency powers act to extend her ability to suspend certain state laws into the future which does not require legislative approval. This action was expected. However, she also issued Executive Order 2020-68, which declares a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the State of Michigan under the Emergency Management Act of 1976. The 1976 emergency powers act requires the Legislature to extend a Governor's emergency declaration another 28 days. As mentioned previously, she did not get legislative approval to do so.
MOGA will keep you updated as the situation continues to develop.
The Michigan Oil and Gas Association (MOGA) is pleased to announce the selection of Jason Geer as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Geer joins MOGA having served nearly 10 years as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Energy & Environmental Policy.
“We are very pleased to welcome Jason as President and CEO of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association,” said Brian Dorr, MOGA board chair. “We have worked extensively with Jason over many years. He is a professional and highly regarded advocate on energy issues who has been a great ally to Michigan’s home state producers. Jason’s strong background in energy and environmental policy, combined with his experience as part of Michigan’s leading business association, ensures MOGA and its independent oil and natural gas producer members will continue to be in good hands.”
Previously, Geer served as director of government affairs for the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce before joining the Michigan Chamber where he led advocacy and policy development efforts. Geer began his career in the office of former Michigan Congressman Dave Camp. He has both policy and political experience as part of his now 18-year career.
“I’m excited to join MOGA where I look forward to building on the economic success story of Michigan’s home-state producers – people who care deeply about their employees, communities, our environment and contributing to Michigan’s energy needs,” said Geer. “I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of MOGA members, many of whom are family businesses that span several generations. I can think of no better group of people with whom to work and no better association to have the opportunity to lead.”
Geer holds a B.A. in Political Science from Saginaw Valley State University. He succeeds Erin McDonough, who led MOGA since 2014.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Directive 2020-5, creating the Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability within the State Budget Office. The Accountability Office will provide oversight of all spending to address this crisis, and must report regularly on its work to the governor and the state budget director.
“Protecting the people of Michigan and lowering the chance of a second wave has demanded flexibility and decisiveness, and has also required funds from the state treasury, philanthropic sources, and the federal government,” said Governor Whitmer. “Michiganders have the right to expect that state government will be responsible stewards of their resources, especially in a time of crisis. I will continue to work around the clock to ensure these resources are spent wisely, in compliance with the law, and in a transparent and accountable manner.”
The Department of Technology, Management and Budget will designate a Chief COVID-19 Accountability Officer to lead the Accountability Office.
Friday, May 1st, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-70 as part of her MI Safe Start plan. The executive order will allow the May 7 resumption of some types of work that present a very low risk of infection, including construction, real-estate activities, and work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors.
The order also requires businesses to adopt measures to protect their workers against the spread of COVID-19.
- Under the order, construction sites must adopt a set of best practices to protect their workers from infection. Those practices include:
- Designating a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies.
- Conducting daily health screenings for workers.
- Creating dedicated entry points, if possible, or issuing stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day.
- Identifying choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing.
- Ensuring sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.
On April 30th, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-69 , extending her previous order that temporarily closes certain places of public accommodation such as theaters, bars, casinos, and more. In order to maintain social distancing the order also limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders. The restrictions do not apply to office buildings, grocery stores, pharmacies, warehouses, or manufacturing facilities. Executive Order 2020-69 is effective immediately and extends until May 28, 2020.
While the Governor's Stay at Home Executive Order remains in place through May 15th, the State's Emergency Declaration was set to expire on April 30, 2020. The Governor and the legislature were unable to come to an agreement on an extension (see Governor Whitmer and Legislative Leaders Clash on Extension of Emergency Declaration), so the Governor bypassed the legislature and issued three new executive orders, declaring a state of emergency and state of disaster across the state through May 28th, 2020.
Executive Order 2020-66, which terminates the existing state of emergency and disaster declarations issued under the Emergency Management Act in Executive Order 2020-33.
Executive Order 2020-67, which clarifies that a state of emergency remains in effect under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945. The order is effective immediately and continues through May 28, 2020 at 11:59pm. The governor will evaluate the continuing need for this order prior to its expiration, and if she determines that an emergency no longer exists, will terminate or extend the state of emergency declared in this order.
Executive Order 2020-68, which declares a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the State of Michigan under the Emergency Management Act of 1976. The state of emergency and state of disaster declared by this order will be effective through May 28, 2020 at 11:59pm, and the governor will evaluate the continuing need for the order prior to its expiration, terminate the states of emergency and disaster if the threat or danger has passed.
View the recorded April 29th Industry Insights Webinar here.
Access Password: IPAAIIW4.29
Proactively Navigating Distress in the Oil & Gas Industry
In early March, the oil & gas industry was punched with a historic, overnight drop in the price of oil. To make matters worse, the rapidly expanding COVID-19 pandemic brought a decrease in demand, exacerbating the industry’s sudden downturn.
In this timely and insightful webinar, three experienced restructuring professionals discuss how to proactively and strategically navigate this distressed oil & gas environment, including analyzing and measuring liquidity, determining valuation, providing a glimpse into lenders’ perspective, evaluating the potential use of bankruptcy as a tool and considering post-bankruptcy M&A. Part of our discussion will include a look at past down-cycles and what might be on the horizon.
While the Governor's Stay at Home Executive Order remains in place through May 15th, the State's Emergency Declaration was set to expire on April 30, 2020.
Under the 1976 emergency powers act, the state House and Senate would need to vote to approve an extension of the state's emergency declaration. Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey, presented the Governor with a deal that would have extended the Governor's state of emergency declaration for two one week periods in exchange for future "Stay Safe. Stay Home" orders to be enacted legislatively. She very publicly rejected the deal, and a day later moved to extend the declaration without legislative approval. To do so, the Governor used her executive order powers under the state's 1945 emergency powers act to extend her ability to suspend certain state laws into the future which does not require legislative approval. This action was expected.
However, she also issued Executive Order 2020-68, which declares a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the State of Michigan under the Emergency Management Act of 1976. The 1976 emergency powers act requires the Legislature to extend a Governor's emergency declaration another 28 days. As mentioned previously, she did not get legislative approval to do so.
In an article this morning, MIRS News featured comments from several lawyers on this action,
Peter Ruddell, an attorney with Honigman, said by doing this, Whitmer "bifurcated them, in case one of them, presumably the 1976 one, is deemed invalid." In other words, each act has the ability to stand on its own, Ruddell said. He said the 1976 act could be the one deemed invalid because that's the one requiring legislative sign-off after 28 days.
Former House Speaker and attorney for Plunkett Cooney Tom Leonard disagreed and said the Governor made a tactical mistake by extending her state of emergency under both laws.
"Her declaration of emergency under the 1945 law is unsurprising. But it's perplexing that exactly one minute after terminating the COVID-19 emergency under the 1976 law upon failing to get the legislative approval that law requires, she issued another COVID-19 declaration under the very same law as if there were a 'new' emergency. I don't know how she will defend this position in court," Leonard said.
The legislature is expected to file suit and take the matter to the courts to argue the case that the Governor cannot continue issuing emergency executive orders into perpetuity. On April 30th, the House passed a resolution, HR 250, that gives Speaker Chatfield the ability to legally challenge the Governor for actions she takes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including her ability to issue overlapping emergency powers orders. The Senate has given Majority Leader Mike Shirkey the same authority.
We will keep you updated as this continues to unfold.