Midwest Governors Announce Partnership to Reopen Regional Economy

Governors Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Mike DeWine (OH), Tony Evers (WI), Tim Walz (MN), JB Pritzker (IL), Eric Holcomb (IN), and Andy Beshear (KY) have announced that they will work in close coordination to reopen the economy in the Midwest region. 

The governors said, “We are doing everything we can to protect the people of our states and slow the spread of COVID-19, and we are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region. Here in the Midwest, we are bound by our commitment to our people and the community. We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet. 

“Today, we are announcing that Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky will work in close coordination to reopen our economies in a way that prioritizes our workers’ health. We look forward to working with experts and taking a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protect families from the spread of COVID-19. 

“Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens. We will make decisions based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education. 

“We will closely examine at least these four factors when determining when best to reopen our economy: 

  • Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations. 
  • Enhanced ability to test and trace. 
  • Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence. 
  • And best practices for social distancing in the workplace. 

“Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region. This doesn’t mean our economy will reopen all at once, or that every state will take the same steps at the same time. But close coordination will ensure we get this right. Over time, people will go back to work, restaurants will reopen, and things will go back to normal. We look forward to working together as one region to tackle this challenge together.” 


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Funding Exhausted for $350 Billion Small-Business Paycheck Program

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA), Paycheck Protection Loan Program (PPP) intended to help small businesses, has doled out all of its $350 Billion in allocated funding.

The Small Business Administration announced that it has approved more than 1.6 million loan applications as of Thursday, April 16th and is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding. They are also unable to enroll new PPP lenders at this time. It’s anticipated that this will put more pressure on lawmakers to reach an agreement for additional funding to the program, but a final agreement has yet to be made. We will keep you updated as this continues to develop.

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Treasury: Business Taxpayers Can Pay Monthly, Quarterly Sales, Use and Withholding Tax in May

Certain businesses that have experienced disrupted operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic now have even more time to make monthly or quarterly sales, use and withholding tax payments, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Business taxpayers scheduled to make sales, use and withholding tax payments for March and April or for the first quarter of 2020 can postpone filing and payment requirements until May 20, 2020. The state Treasury Department will waive all penalties and interest.

"Our administration is doing everything we can to support Michigan businesses during this crisis," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "Postponing payment and filing deadlines, and waiving penalties and interest will provide much-needed relief to business owners."

Specific information about Treasury providing continued tax assistance to businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in Penalty and Interest Waived for 30 Days for Monthly and Quarterly Sales, Use and Withholding Returns due April 20, 2020.

Business taxpayers are encouraged to file sales, use and withholding tax returns and pay taxes owed as of the original due date if able to do so.

 “Under Governor Whitmer’s leadership, across state government we are utilizing a variety of options to assist Michigan businesses during this global pandemic,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “By moving sales, use and withholding tax payment deadlines from March and April to May, it gives small businesses critical time to figure out the next steps as we continue to move forward.”

On March 18, the state Treasury Department first announced tax assistance for businesses scheduled to make their sales, use and withholding payments in March.  

The waiver is not available for accelerated sales, use or withholding tax filers. Businesses with questions should inquire through self-service options using Michigan Treasury Online.

To learn more about Michigan’s taxes, go to www.michigan.gov/taxes or follow the state Treasury Department on Twitter at @MITreasury.

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Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Temporarily Extending Expiration of Driver's Licenses, State ID Cards, Vehicle Registrations

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed Executive Order 2020-47, temporarily extending the expiration of valid driver’s licenses, state identification cards and commercial vehicle registrations that would otherwise expire during the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.

The temporary extension does not apply to motorists with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses.

“In times of crisis and uncertainty, the last thing you want to think about is having to renew your driver’s license or state ID card,” Gov. Whitmer said. “It is my sincere hope this order gives all Michiganders with expiring identification some peace of mind as we continue our united front to slow the spread of COVID-19 across our state.”

The order, which takes effect April 13 at 11:59 p.m., temporarily extends:

  • Commercial vehicle registrations, including temporary registrations set to expire on or after March 1, 2020 to June 30.
  • Driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and commercial driver’s licenses set to expire between March 1 and May 31, to June 30.

People looking to renew their licenses should do so online at Michigan.gov/SOS.

The order also suspends penalties for driving with a recently expired but otherwise valid registration.

To view executive order 2020-47, click here. EO 2020-47.pdf

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Governor Whitmer Extends Executive Orders on Places of Public Accommodation, Weight Restrictions on Roads, and Administrative Hearings by Video Conference

Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Orders 2020-43, 2020-44 and 2020-45, which extend three Executive Orders signed last month. The Executive Orders:

  • Confirm that various places of public accommodation remain closed to the public for the time being and that restaurants must continue to limit service to carry-out and delivery orders;
  • Maintain relief from weight and other delivery-related restrictions for vehicles carrying essential supplies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19; and
  • Continue to allow certain state administrative hearings to be held by video conference or phone in place of in-person hearings.

“By extending these Executive Orders, we ensure that our state continues to do all it can to suppress the spread of COVID-19 by limiting in-person interactions and services as much as possible right now, while also ensuring that vital goods and supplies get to the people who need them most as quickly and safely as possible. The orders also ensure that certain agencies and commissions can continue their important work remotely during the continuing crisis,” Governor Whitmer said. “By working together and doing our part, we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Michiganders.”

To match the duration of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, Executive Order 2020-43 extends until April 30 the restrictions that are already in place regarding public access to restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, casinos, and other places of public accommodation.  

Executive Order 2020-44 extends until May 11 the suspension of all state and local seasonal load restrictions, as well as other restrictions on the timing and loading of deliveries, for deliveries that meet immediate needs for medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, as well as other critical supplies, equipment, and personnel.

Executive Order 2020-45 continues to permit until May 11 the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, Unemployment Insurance Agency, and other administrative hearings to be held by video conference or phone in place of in-person hearings. The order also temporarily allows e-signatures in place of written signatures on related documents.

To view executive orders 2020-43, 2020-44 and 2020-45 click the links below:

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MI's 6 Republican U.S. House Members Send Letter to Gov. Expressing Concerns about "New Stay Home, Stay Safe Order"

According to a Press Release from the Office of U.S. Congressman Paul Mitchell (MI-10), he and the other Republican members of the Michigan Delegation –  Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06), Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07), Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Congressman John Moolenaar (MI-04), and Congressman Jack Bergman (MI-01) have sent a letter to Governor Whitmer to express their serious concern with her most recent update to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order (Executive Order 2020-42).

In the letter they stated that while as Governor she was right in issuing the initial executive order in an effort to protect public health and slow the spread of the virus, and that she had the constitutional authority to do so, her latest order “is far too restrictive and includes provisions that seem arbitrary and internally inconsistent.”

Mitchell stated of the order “The public health crisis of the coronavirus is tragically real, and at the same time there is a widespread economic crisis going on. The Governor’s latest executive order is not constructive, and I join my Congressional colleagues in calling for her to reconsider this order.”

The letter from the members was a call for Governor Whitmer to act prudently as the Governor of the state of Michigan and realize the economic impacts of the recent iteration of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.

A full copy of the letter is available by clicking here.

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Self-Employed, Other Newly Eligible Workers Can Now Apply for Unemployment, $600 Federal Payments Also Begin

Michigan’s self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers affected by COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) beginning Monday, April 13 at 8AM. Under the federal CARES Act, workers on state unemployment have already begun receiving the set $600 federal weekly payment in addition to their state benefit amount. Michigan is one of the first states to begin sending the $600 payment.  

Customers are encouraged to use off-peak times 8 p.m. – 8 a.m. Earlier today, the UIA announced new resources to help workers resolve online technical issues with their account. 

  • Last names beginning with letters A-L: file claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays. 
  • Last names beginning with letters M-Z: file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays. 
  • Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window. 
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OPEC+ Reach Deal to Cut Production by 9.7 Million BPD

Over the weekend, a coalition of nearly two dozen oil-producing countries agreed to withhold 9.7 million barrels a day from markets. Members of OPEC and others, including Russia and Mexico, announced Sunday that they have agreed to cut production in May and June. This is reported to be the the deepest cut ever agreed to by OPEC+. After the production cuts, the group will again ramp up production until the agreement expires in April 2022.

It is unclear if this level of coordinated cuts is enough to erase the glut given the decline in global demand spurred by the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the Wall Street Journal, Global demand for crude is normally around 100 million barrels a day. Estimates of the decline vary widely and change daily, but most put current demand at 65 million to 80 million barrels a day. In volume and percentage, the fall exceeds the collapse of 1979 to 1983. It occurred over four weeks, not four years. (View the full article in the WSJ)

“The global oil industry is experiencing a shock like no other in its history,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

According to the EIA, U.S. petroleum product consumption has gone from 21.86 Million BPD on March 6th,2020 to 14.46 Million BPD on April 3rd, 2020. 


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U.P. Energy Taskforce to Finalize and Submit Propane Recommendations to the Governor by April 17th

This week, the U.P. Energy Taskforce will finalize its propane recommendations with a deadline of April 17 to submit the report to the Governor. More than 800 public comments were received. The final recommendations, technical document and appendices will be posted to Michigan.gov/UPEnergyTaskForce.

The Michigan Oil and Gas Association has submitted comments on the The U.P. Energy Task Force's draft recommendations related to the U.P.'s propane supply. The Task Force's 14 draft recommendations to the Governor on propane availability in the Upper Peninsula can be found here, in addition to the technical report prepared by Public Sector Consultants on propane supply and possible impacts if delivery were to be interrupted. 

View MOGA's Comments on the UP Energy Task Force Committee Recommendations Part_1. Propane Supply Here

A full report on overall U.P. energy issues and alternatives is due to Gov. Whitmer by March 31, 2021.

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The 4 Primary Measures Gov. Whitmer will use to Safely Re-Engage the State's Economy

In her Monday press conference, the Governor said,  "Every day, we are writing the plan so that we can re-engage safely at the appropriate time with the idea that not one of us wants to go through this again.Those days where we can resume some normalcy – they are on the horizon," she said. "We keep doing what we need to do to get past this moment."

The four primary factors the administration will consider include the following, 

  • Infections rates must be down.
  • The ability to test the coronavirus must improve.
  • The state's healthcare system's capacity must be adequate.
  • Businesses would need to adopt "best practices in the workplace.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said it's a mix of things and not necessarily "zero cases," but that the right amount of testing is going on, the rate of increases in cases goes down, and that hospitals are ready in case there's a surge of cases after the social distancing measures are lifted.

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