Indoor Dining Ban Extended Through Feb. 1. Indoor Group Exercise and Some Sports may Resume

January 13, 2021 Gatherings and Face Mask Order

“We are reopening cautiously because caution is working to save lives. The new order allows group exercise and non-contact sports, always with masks and social distancing, because in the winter it’s not as easy to get out and exercise and physical activity is important for physical and mental health,” said state health department Director Robert Gordon in a news release.

The updated order goes into effect Saturday and runs through the end of the month. 

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Enbridge Responds to Governor Whitmer's Attempt to Revoke Line 5 Easement

Enbridge Press Release:

Michigan Governor's Attempt to Revoke Line 5 Easement is Unlawful and Ignores Science and Evidence

January 12, 2021

Enbridge Rejects State's Notice on Easement, Says State's Action is Unlawful

CALGARY, AB and LANSING, Mich., Jan. 12, 2021 /CNW/ - Today Enbridge Inc. (TSX: ENB) (NYSE: ENB) (Enbridge or the company) responded to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's attempt to terminate an easement that has been in place since 1953 and thereby close Enbridge's Line 5 dual pipelines located in that easement. Line 5 enables the safe transport of fuel to heat homes and provides energy to Michigan, neighboring U.S. states and Canada's two largest provinces.

In a letter responding to the State's November 13 notice, Vern Yu, Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines, wrote, "Our dual lines in the Straits are safe and in full compliance with the federal pipeline safety standards that govern them."

Both lines were reviewed and approved for operation by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) back in June and September of 2020.

Mr. Yu further stated that Enbridge has no intention of shutting down the pipelines based on the State's unspecified allegations and its violation of federal law.

The company has requested that the United States District Court dismiss the State of Michigan's action in that the revocation of the easement is contrary to federal law and that pipeline safety resides with the federal Pipeline Safety Act and its enforcement is the responsibility of an expert federal agency (PHMSA).

"The Notice ignores scientific evidence and is based on inaccurate and outdated information," Mr. Yu wrote of the State's action.

Repeated offers by Enbridge over the past year to meet with State officials to discuss pipeline issues of concern to the State, provide technical information and discuss matters that might be helpful to the State's review of the easement were consistently ignored and dismissed.  Consequently, the State made its claim on ill-informed, inaccurate, out of date and unsupportable opinion.

In his letter, Mr. Yu wrote that the State acted unlawfully in issuing the Notice to revoke and terminate the 1953 easement by attempting to upend federal jurisdiction.

Enbridge's response further underscores that the Governor and the DNR Director cannot disregard Michigan laws authorizing the original 1953 easement and the replacement tunnel, nor displace PHMSA, the federal agency responsible for the safety of interstate pipelines. The company, consistent with the past, is offering to meet with the State to resolve any differences.

"In the meantime, the dual pipelines will continue to operate safely until they are replaced on completion of the Tunnel Project," wrote Vern Yu.

Residents, businesses and refineries throughout Michigan, other Great Lakes states and Canada's two largest provinces – Ontario and Quebec – rely on the safe transportation of oil, propane and other product through the dual pipelines. Enbridge looks forward to continuing to provide this critical source of energy while focusing on plans to construct the Great Lakes Tunnel as another measure to enhance safe operation of the dual pipelines.

To view Mr. Yu's letter, please click here.

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U.P. Energy Task Force to meet online, Monday Jan. 11

The U.P. Energy Task Force is to meet online beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11, to continue its discussion of potential recommendations regarding Upper Peninsula energy issues and alternatives.

The Task Force is required to submit its final report to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by March 31, 2021.

Those interested in joining the public meeting can click on the Microsoft Teams link on the U.P. Energy Task Force webpage. Those who do not have Internet access can participate by phone: Dial 248-509-0316 and enter the conference ID 978 293 563#.

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Control of the U.S. Senate Swings with Georgia's Run-off Elections

Georgia election law requires candidates to capture at least 50 percent of the vote to be declared a winner. Neither of the state's Senate races reached that threshold back in November, forcing Tuesday's runoffs. Over half a billion dollars was spent in the last two months alone on the two Georgia Senate run-off races, and for good reason. These elections will decide which party will control the U.S. Senate and determine how much of the Biden/Harris agenda will be able to move through legislative branches. Going into Tuesday's run-offs, Republicans held a 50-48 majority in the new Senate, and Democrats needed to win both seats to shift control.  

Announced early Wednesday morning, Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated Republican incumbent, Kelly Loeffler in a tight race. Senator Loeffler had held the seat for a year after being appointed to the Senate by Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp in December of 2019 to fill a vacancy left by Republican senator Johnny Isakson who retired for health reasons. Raphael Warnock, the state's first black Senator will hold the Senate seat until January 3, 2023. 

In the other Senate race, Democrat Jon Ossoff has defeated Republican incumbent, David Perdue by a narrow margin. At 33, Ossoff will be the youngest sitting U.S. Senator. With two victories, the Senate will be split 50-50, between the parties (as two Independents, Senators King and Sanders vote with the Democrats). With an even split, Democrats would have the tie breaking vote, as Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote in the event of any ties. 

 

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Michigan Announces Advance into the Next Phase of the State's Vaccination Plan

On Wednesday, January 6, the Governor announced the state is moving to a new phase of vaccination on Monday, Jan. 11. This phase (Phase C Group A) includes Michiganders age 65 and older; frontline essential workers including police officers, first responders, frontline state and federal workers and jail and prison staff; and preK-12 teachers and childcare providers. All counties can begin vaccinating residents over the age of 65. According to the press release, eligible essential workers, teachers, and childcare workers will be notified by their employers about vaccine clinics and locations. Eligible individuals should not go to any of the clinics without an appointment

“We are pleased to move the state forward in the next stage of vaccinations,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “These vaccines are safe and effective, and we especially want our first responders, teachers and older adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The strategy we are announcing today is efficient, effective, and equitable, focusing on making vaccine available to those who have the highest level of risk, whether it is because of where they work or because of their age.”

The COVID-19 vaccination phases are:

  • Phase 1A: Paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home as well as residents in long term care facilities.
  • Phase 1B: Persons 75 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.
  • Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety and protection during the COVID-19 response.
  • Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.
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President-Elect Joe Biden Formally Nominates Granholm for Energy Secretary

Former Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm will be the next U.S. Secretary for Energy under the Biden administration. President-elect Joe Biden made the official nomination on Thursday Dec. 17 and with it, said he would also appoint former EPA head Gina McCarthy as his national climate adviser.

Granholm served as Attorney General of Michigan from 1999 to 2003 and the 47th governor of Michigan from 2003 to 2011. Since her time in office, she has taught public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is a senior research fellow at both the California Institute for Energy and Environment and the Berkeley Center for Information Technology Research in the Interests of Society. Additionally, she has worked as CNN political contributor since 2017.

Last month, Politico reported that Granholm had used a Nov. 7 op-ed focused on investing in a “low-carbon economy” to promote herself for the Department of Energy position.

“The economics are clear: The time for a low-carbon recovery is now,” Granholm wrote in her op-ed published by The Detroit News. “Michigan is looking to its policymakers to support clean job growth and rebuild our state economy in a way that leaves no one behind. The health and well-being of our people, business community, state economy and future depends on it.”

In response to the announcement from Biden, Granholm tweeted,  "I’m honored that President-elect Joe Biden has placed his faith in me as his Energy Secretary nominee. We have an opportunity to build back better while creating millions of jobs — we can do it!".

Her nomination will require confirmation by the Senate

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Public Bodies May Meet Remotely Through March 31, 2021

The bill, signed into law on Tuesday, December 23, amends the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to meet electronically and remain in compliance. It also extends current remote attendance provisions to March 31, 2021. Once public bodies are again able to meet in-person, the bill requires compliance with social distancing and cleaning guidelines if they chose to hold in-person meetings. This bill was sponsored by Senator Lana Theis, R-Brighton. 

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Congress Passes $900 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package

Late Monday night, Congress approved a $900 billion coronavirus relief package. The long-delayed measure, passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan majorities: 359-53 in the House and 92-6 in the Senate. President Trump is expected to sign the bill soon, allowing at least some of the emergency aid to start flowing quickly. The package includes $600 direct payments to individuals and families, enhanced unemployment benefits, small business aid, and funding for distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. It does not, however, include funding for state and local governments.  

 

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Governor Whitmer Appoints Detroit CFO Dave Massaron as New State Budget Director

Press Release:

LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that she has appointed Dave Massaron to serve as State Budget Director. Massaron is the Chief Financial Officer for the City of Detroit, where he supervised all of the City’s financial and budget activities. Prior to his service as CFO, he served as the City’s Chief Operating Officer and Senior Counsel to Mayor Mike Duggan, where he was responsible for day to day operations of the City, including ensuring that the City’s annual budgets reflected the Mayor’s priorities.    

“Throughout his service to the City of Detroit, Dave Massaron has shown a deep commitment to ensuring Detroiters have the support they need. He is uniquely qualified to serve as Budget Director for the state, where I am confident he will work around the clock to build a balanced budget that supports our recovery from the pandemic by investing in our public schools, public health and safety, and economic opportunity,” said Governor Whitmer. “I look forward to working closely with Dave to pass a bipartisan budget and ensure we provide everyone the support and services they need.” 

“I am grateful that Governor Whitmer has entrusted me with the task of building a strong, balanced budget for Michiganders that invests in our shared values,” said Massaron. “It was the greatest honor of my career to work and learn from Mayor Duggan as we restructured the City to better serve its residents. I’m ready and eager to work with the Governor’s team and the State Legislature to get a bipartisan budget passed for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.” 

“Dave has been an outstanding CFO for the city of Detroit and I congratulate him on taking this new opportunity,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “He helped set Detroit on a course of continued financial stability while ensuring continued service levels we’ve maintained, even during COVID-19. Dave leaves the city in a strong financial position, which has made it possible for us to sell up to $250 million in bonds to transform more of our neighborhoods through Proposal N. I wish him well and know he will be just as successful as our state’s budget director.” 

In his role as CFO, Massaron developed the strategy and budget to continue essential City operations and ensure Detroiters had services needed during the pandemic while balancing a budget with an over $400 million revenue loss. In his role as COO for the City of Detroit, Massaron led a team of departments that created a plan to fix Detroit roads and spur economic development along main streets in Detroit’s neighborhoods. Massaron also worked to create the Detroit Promise Zone Authority and fund the Detroit Promise, which provides tuition-free college educations for Detroit high school graduates. Massaron is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University and the William and Mary School of Law. 

Massaron will fill the position after former Budget Director Chris Kolb stepped down to serve as vice president for government relations at the University of Michigan. Massaron’s appointment is effective January 4, 2021. 

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MI Legislature Passes $465 Million Supplemental

"The coronavirus created an impossible situation, and many leaders did the best they can. But the simple truth is the state government’s uneven, inconsistent and often-politicized approach to this virus created hardship for far too many Michigan residents,” said House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering). “This is an important vote and an important spending plan to help families, but it is only a temporary solution. Moving forward, state government must provide better answers."

The supplemental spending bill includes:

-$220 million to the state's unemployment fund to continue unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks as opposed to 20 weeks.

 - A $45 million program that will give workers left unemployed through the last round government-mandated shutdowns a $1,650 check from the state Treasury.

- $63.5 million in "survival grants for small businesses forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

- $115.3 million to address nursing shortages, including an extension of the pay increase for direct care workers

- $79.1 million to expand virus testing and vaccine distribution, including money to revamp up testing of teachers.

- $10 million for hospitals to hire temporary staff. Hospitals are also getting $3.3 million to house COVID-positive nursing home residents.

The bill passed 97-5 and will now go to the Governor for her signature.  

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Michigan Petroleum Directory Now Available!