Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has advised local election clerks that openly carrying firearms at polling places is not allowed on Election Day and they are to contact law enforcement if it occurs. Meanwhile, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that mailed absentee ballots need to be in the hands of local clerks before 8 p.m. on Election Capital Building Lansing CroppedDay, Nov. 3 without any extension for ballots postmarked before the election. Soon after the Supreme Court’s ruling against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s use of the 1945 Emergency Powers of Governor Act, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has largely reinstated aspects of the governor's COVID-19 emergency orders under the Michigan Health Code. The governor also issued new emergency rules from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) to continue to handle COVID-19. Whitmer signed Senate Bills 886 and 991, which extend unemployment benefits for people who have lost work due to COVID-19, from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of year. The Senate unanimously passed HB 6137 that would require DHHS to publicly report weekly the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in nursing homes starting Nov. 15. A Court of Claims lawsuit has been filed against the governor's use of the executive branch to “issue and enforce emergency orders” the Michigan Supreme Court ruled illegal.

For additional information on these issues and the latest legislative news, please click here for the October 2020 Karoub Report.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer approved three emergency rules requiring all employers to follow COVID-19 workplace safety measures and provide protections for frontline workers.

The Emergency Rules were signed following the Michigan Supreme Court decision Oct. 2 which nullified all of the governor’s COVID-19 emergency orders issued after April 30.

Gov. Whitmer signed workers’ compensation emergency rules which clarify compensation for health care employees and first responders who test positive for COVID-19. These employees, including emergency medical services, law enforcement and fire safety workers among others, are presumed eligible for coverage under the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act. Employees must have a physician diagnosis or a presumed positive test result.

“These brave men and women have been on the front lines of this pandemic, putting themselves at risk to protect our families,” Whitmer said. “These emergency rules will provide some crucial support for these workers who are most susceptible to contracting COVID-19.”

Make your voices heard, request or cast your ballot today

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor, with excerpts from news media

With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Emergency Powers revoked by a Michigan Supreme Court ruling Oct. 2, the state’s health department has issued an emergency order with mask mandates, social distancing and group gathering limits.

The state’s highest court ruled 4-3 that the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act is unconstitutional. Whitmer based her authority to declare states of emergency in response to COVID-19 on the 1945 Act, without the approval of state lawmakers. The court also ruled the 1976 Emergency Management Act did not give Whitmer the power to issue or renew executive orders related to the pandemic after April 30.

While Whitmer and legislators wait for clarification regarding when her emergency powers end and what happens next, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued emergency orders Oct. 5 and Oct. 9. The orders require masks be worn at indoor and outdoor gatherings of people from different households, in public spaces and childcare facilities. They limit gathering sizes and place capacity limits on stores, bars and other public venues and provide safety protocols for workplaces, schools and sports. These orders are in effect through Oct. 30, according to MDHHS officials. Violators face a misdemeanor of imprisonment up to six months and/or a fine of $200 or a civil fine up to $1,000.

Click here for the Oct. 5, 2020 MDHHS COVID-19 emergency order.
Click here for the Oct. 9, 2020 MDHHS COVID-19 emergency order.
Click here for Karoub Associates memo regarding the Supreme Court ruling aftermath.

While legal details are being sorted out, one thing is for certain - voters can make their voices heard loud and clear in the Presidential Election on Nov. 3 or before. Absentee ballots can be requested by any registered voter without providing a reason. Elections workers are asking voters to request absentee ballots now and either put them in the mail as soon as possible or drop them off at their local clerk’s office, many of which have drop boxes.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Orders reopening movie theaters, bowling alleys, performance venues and more while increasing indoor and outdoor gathering limits effective Oct. 9.

Executive Order 2020-183 allows for the statewide reopening of indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks, and more.

Non-residential indoor gatherings and events increased from a maximum of 10 people to a limit of 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in Michigan’s largest venues. Face coverings are required indoors. Non-residential outdoor gatherings and events increased from 100 people limit to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people. Regions 6 and 8 are subject to the same rules covered in the revised MI Safe Start order, except non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in the regions’ largest venues.

Whitmer also signed Executive Order 2020-185, which requires K-5 students wear face coverings in classrooms in MI Safe Start Regions 1-5 and 7. She also updated the prior order on workplace safeguards to reflect these changes with Executive Order 2020-184.

State Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens ruled ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 must be counted. Under the ruling, late-arriving mail-in ballots could still be counted until results must be certified, 14 days after the election. Currently, only ballots that arrive Capital Building Lansing Croppedbefore Election Day polls close can be counted; Local governments and school districts will be spared budget cuts in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 under a target agreement on spending parameters reached by legislative leaders and Budget Director Chris Kolb; In a Lansing State Journal Viewpoint column last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wrote the following regarding lifting the COVID-19 Emergency Order, “While it would be irresponsible to forecast a date, it’s a matter of months.” She said that decision would be based on: A low number of new cases, sufficient dispersal of a vaccine, availability of therapeutics, a better understanding of immunity, or a combination of these and other considerations; The Senate is expected to take up jail reform bills this week that would reduce some offenses from misdemeanors to civil infractions, and seek to divert more offenders from jail to treatment programs; The Michigan House is expected to finalize an aggressive agenda late Thursday evening (Sept. 23) before recessing until mid-November; For the second time, the Michigan Capitol Commission has rejected motions for weapons bans in the state Capitol building, saying they first want to meet with House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake); The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced residents in certain types of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, independent living facilities, and assisted living facilities, are allowed outdoor visits; Gov. Whitmer announced applications are open for a free college tuition plan. Some 625,000 Michigan essential workers who put time in during the COVID-19 lockdown, but do not already have a degree, may be eligible for free college.

For more information on recent legislative issues, please click on the September 2020 Karoub Report.