Rick Pluta

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said today  that she will announce a decision “soon” on allowing gyms to re-open and for more school sports to resume.
 

The governor did not say exactly when she intends to outline her re-opening plans. She’s been facing pressure to let gyms – as well as theaters and bowling alleys – re-open after ordering them closed more than five months ago. That was to slow the spread of COVID-19 in likely hot spots.
                Whitmer said she’ll reveal her plans in the coming days, but won’t be rushed.

A state House committee will hold its first hearing tomorrow on bills to offer businesses more protections from COVID-19-related legal actions.
 

Business groups say the COVID-19 crisis has created new risks of lawsuits filed against them.

Brian Calley with the Small Business Association of Michigan says the crisis is evolving and the rules change often. He says these bills would offer businesses certainty.

“As long as a business is following the rules then they have protection from frivolous lawsuits.”

wikipedia.com

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified remotely today before a congressional committee. The topic was ensuring the November elections are handled safely and securely.              

Benson joined other state election officials before the House Homeland Security Committee. She said Michigan’s August primary served as a useful trial run. But many more people are expected to vote in November. And Benson said many more people will either mail in or drop off their ballots because of COVID-19 concerns. That, she said, presents a challenge.

A Michigan Court of Claims judge has ruled Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is allowed to send every voter in the state an application to vote absentee instead of in-person.

The Secretary of State sent an absentee ballot application to seven-point-seven million registered voters before the August primary.

Benson press secretary Jake Rollow said a postcard mailing to more than 4 million voters who still have not requested absentee ballots will go out soon. He says that would leave time for people to request and return their ballots before the November election.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced today that a new partnership will help get about 4 (m) million protective face masks to people who might otherwise have trouble procuring them.

The arrangement is between the state, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Ford Motor Company. It will focus on getting masks to schools in low-income areas, as well as distributing them through federally qualified health centers and community groups.

The director of the state Department of Health and Human Services testified today before a committee examining Michigan’s COVID-19 response.

Director Robert Gordon was called to explain a contact tracing contract with a firm that does political work for Democrats.

The contract was cancelled by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in April after it became public.

Gordon said that decision to award the contract was “a mistake” that occurred as his department was dealing with a wave of COVID-19 cases.

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State superintendent Michael Rice delivered a report today to the Michigan State Board of Education. He offered some recommendations on handling in-class and remote learning in the new school year.

       Rice recommends the Legislature rely on last year’s student count and funding formula when setting a state school budget. Rice says he has not given up hope on another round of financial assistance from Washington.

       Rice says he’s aware that leaves a lot of gaps and uncertainty. But, he says, the situation is unprecedented.

wikipedia.com

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive that declares racism a public health crisis in Michigan.

The directive says systemic racism has led to higher COVID-19 infection rates in communities of color, as well as higher rates of infant mortality, asthma, and lead poisoning. It says racism has also affected the availability of safe and affordable housing, healthy food options, jobs, and transportation.

      

“And this reflects long-standing, deep, societal, economic and environmental disparities”

migop.gov

The Legislature will not return to the state Capitol in Lansing this week because one member has tested positive for COVID-19.

Republican state Senator Tom Barrett tested positive as part of routine screening for National Guard service. Barrett said he’s self-isolating, but is not experiencing significant symptoms.

Senate Republican spokeswoman Amber McCann said the week off will allow lawmakers and staff to get tested and wait on the results.

“So in order for that time to take place, we’re going to cancel session and committees this week.”

Voting booths photo
Wikipedia

Elections officials are warning people should not expect early results from tomorrow’s primary elections, where voters will choose nominees for Congress, the Legislature and local offices A surge in absentee voting means it will take longer to count absentee ballots once the polls close at 8 P-M. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the August primaries will also serve as a test for Michigan’s readiness to handle the higher-turnout November elections.

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