The second Michigan High Water Virtual Townhall on Tuesday, April 29th, featured presentations by Dr. Guy Meadows of Michigan Technological University; Charlie Simon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District Regulatory Office; Dan Deitz of Deitz House Moving of Muskegon; and Brian Majka of GEI Consultants in Grand Rapids. The virtual townhall put on by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) detailed the work thats been done in the state to protect our Great Lakes shoreline since the last record high water levels in the 1980's and the natural processes that have shaped our shores. Additionally, EGLE and the U.S. Army Corps discussed the permitting processes, shoreline protection options for homes or critical structures that are in jeopardy. before taking questions from the public.
A recording of the town hall will be available shortly. Below you will find a few of the questions that were answered on the call.
Is financial help available for lake shore property owners? Unfortunately, at this time there is not.
How long is permitting taking on average? 33% of General Permits are completed in 7 or less days of submission of a complete application. 86% are completed in 60 days or less.
What's a rough estimate on the cost of rock for bank stabilization? While this may vary substantially, prices tend to range from $500-$2,000 for a linear foot of rock, though there are cheaper, more temporary solutions.
In accordance with the new Executive Order, 2020-59, beginning Monday, April 27, individuals must wear face coverings in public and employers whose workers perform in-person work must provide face coverings for their workers. Employers must provide non-medical grade face coverings at a minimum; supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks should generally be reserved for health care professionals and first responders.
President Trump Signs $484 billion Relief Bill to help Small Businesses and Hospitals, Expand Testing
Background: As a result of the CARES Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA) created additional loan/funding programs to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. As of April 16, the SBA issued over $10.3 Billion in loans to over 43,000 Michigan small businesses. Nationally, SBA executed more loans in 14 days of CARES Act implementation than the agency had done in the previous 14 years. By April 16th, The Small Business Administration’s (SBA), Paycheck Protection Loan Program (PPP) intended to help small businesses, had doled out all of its $350 Billion in allocated funding, putting pressure on lawmakers to reach an agreement for additional funding to the program.
This new relief bill includes $310 billion for the depleted Paycheck Protection Program (In total, $322 billion was appropriated, to include fees for the PPP), in addition to $60 billion in loans and grants for economic disaster assistance, $75 billion for hospitals and health-care providers, who face budget gaps created by a slowdown in elective surgeries and the surge of patients sick with Covid-19. It also allocates $25 billion to accelerate testing efforts across the country, tasking the Trump administration with creating a national plan to assist states to expand testing efforts.
With Executive Order 2020-59, Whitmer has extended the stay at home order while loosening some restrictions put in place in the last Order. The Governor has lifted restrictions so some businesses linked to outdoor activities, such as golf (without carts) and motorized boating.
Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops can resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules. Stores selling nonessential supplies can reopen for curbside pickup and delivery. Big-box retailers no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling paint, flooring, and carpet.
Additionally, travel between two in-state residences will be allowed, though strongly discouraged.
People will now be required, rather than encouraged, to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores if they can medically tolerate it. Employers must provide non-medical grade masks to their in-person employees.
The order continues to prohibit in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life, with exemptions for various critical jobs. Restaurants remain closed to dine-in customers under a separate measure, and bars, movie theaters, gyms and other sports facilities also are still shuttered.
The measure immediately replaces E.O. 2020-42 that was scheduled to expire next week.
Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield has announced that the Michigan State House & Senate will convene tomorrow to create a special oversight committee on COVID-19 to examine the government’s response. More details to follow tomorrow.
On Wednesday, April 23rd, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-57, extending and building upon her earlier executive order expanding eligibility for unemployment benefits during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
This new Order significantly expands the Work Share Program to further encourage employers to utilize the program to avoid layoffs. An employer may apply for a work share plan if layoff would be avoided for just 10 percent of employees in a unit; new employees with less than three months on the job may qualify for the plan and the range of work reduction permitted under the program is expanded to 10-60 percent from the statutory requirement of 15 to 45 percent.
The order also extends benefits to individuals who voluntarily left a job to accept new employment but were unable to start their new position due to the pandemic.
To help manage unprecedented levels of unemployment claims, Executive Order 2020-57 permits state retirees to return to work at the Unemployment Insurance Agency or MIOSHA without impacting their pensions. Additionally, the Unemployment Insurance Agency has released a number of videos to help claimants navigate the system.
MPSC puts hold on Line 5 siting approval and will take public comment as it considers Enbridge's request for a declaratory ruling on siting authority
The following is from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).
The Michigan Public Service Commission today put on hold Enbridge Energy LP’s application seeking siting approval to replace and relocate the portion of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac while the MPSC takes public comment and considers the company’s request for a declaratory ruling on whether new siting authority from the MPSC is needed for Enbridge to construct this segment.
Enbridge filed its application April 17 (Case No. U-20763) requesting siting approval under Act 16 of 1929 to replace and relocate the Line 5 section into a tunnel to be constructed beneath the Straits. In the alternative, Enbridge asked the MPSC for a declaratory ruling that it already has the authority from the Commission to construct the replacement segment based on the Commission’s original 1953 order granting authority for the Line 5 pipeline.
The Commission today said it would hold the Act 16 siting application in abeyance while it considers the request for a declaratory ruling. Should the Commission issue such a declaratory ruling that Enbridge already has the authority for its Line 5 project, no further proceedings will be necessary, saving time and resources of the Commission and interested persons. Conversely, should the Commission issue a declaratory ruling that Enbridge does not already have the authority for its Line 5 project, the application would be reviewed as part of a contested case, starting with public notice and a prehearing conference.
In addition, given significant public interest in the Line 5 matter, the Commission also established a public comment period on the request for a declaratory ruling. Comments should address only the declaratory ruling issue, and not the merits of Enbridge’s Act 16 application.
Any interested parties may submit comments, written or electronic, no later than May 13, 2020. The Commission explicitly invited commenters to provide legal analysis of the issues presented in the request for a declaratory ruling, which could include references to statutes, rules and prior Commission orders relevant to the matter and analysis of their applicability to the Line 5 project. Replies to comments on the declaratory ruling request must be filed no later than May 27, 2020.
Electronic comments are preferred and may be e-mailed to email@example.com. All comments should reference Case No. U-20763. All information submitted to the Commission in this matter will become public information available on the Commission’s website and subject to disclosure. Written comments may be addressed to: Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, 7109 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI 48917.
A declaratory ruling is a legal determination that resolves uncertainty for the parties and is often made to clarify or determine certain rights or obligations. Under Michigan law and the Commission’s rules, the decision on whether to issue a declaratory ruling is at the discretion of the Commission and relates to the applicability of an actual state of facts to a statute administered by the Commission, or a rule or order of the Commission. A declaratory ruling is binding on the Commission and the party requesting it. However, a declaratory ruling is subject to judicial review in the same manner as a final decision or order in a contested case.
Opportunities to monitor MPSC’s Line 5 proceedings
The MPSC launched a dedicated webpage, www.michigan.gov/MPSCLine5, to enable the public to monitor Enbridge’s siting application and related requests. Background resources on the MPSC’s siting authority under Act 16 and opportunities for the public to participate are available. Individuals can sign up for e-mail updates on MPSC meeting notices, orders, press releases, or other developments specifically related to the Line 5 proceeding before the Commission. Instructions are also available for individuals seeking to sign up to be notified of all formal case filings through the MPSC’s e-dockets system. Additional information will be posted on the website as it becomes available.
To look up cases from MPSC meetings, access the E-Dockets filing system here.
To watch a livestream of the MPSC’s meetings, click here.
"We will likely need another short-term extension of the stay-home, stay-safe order," Governor Whitmer said in her Wednesday conference. She did not provide additional details, nor indicate if a possible extension would be less restrictive. It is anticipated that she will provide another update on Friday. The current "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Order goes through Thursday, April 30th as of now. Some states have begun easing restrictions already. We will keep you updated as additional details are provided.
MIRS News has reported that roughly 2,900 state employees who have been dubbed non-essential were laid off today (4/22) as part of a workforce-thinning in advance of a projected $2.6B state revenue shortfall.
MIRS reports that most if not all state departments are being impacted by the layoffs, which will involve employees dubbed as "level four" staff — in other words, non-critical infrastructure workers working remotely and working at lower-than-normal levels. It’s projected that the layoffs, which will last only ten days but could go up to 20 days under contract, could produce up to $5 million in savings.