Michigan Legislative Update

05/27/2020

 

State of Michigan Coronavirus Response Accelerates

On April 9 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) extended Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order to April 30.  As of this writing, Michigan appears to be seeing potential early signs of a flattening curve of new statewide coronavirus cases.  However, health officials remain exceedingly cautious given that even with significant expansion of testing and slowing growth of new cases in heavily populated southeastern Michigan, the growth rate of infections is accelerating outstate, beyond southeast Michigan. 

As such, the Governor’s revised Executive Order (E.O.) on April 9 continues to prohibit public gatherings and “non-essential” business activity, and in fact increased such restrictions as compared to her initial “Stay Home, Stay Safe” E.O. from mid-March.  Legislative Republicans have stated a desire to revisit the limitations on business activity in this latest E.O., and have called for business activity not to be defined as “essential” or “non-essential”, but rather based on whether or not workplaces are safe.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has unveiled the Senate Republican plan at www.misenategop.com/OpenMISafely, which continues to emphasize the need for the vast majority of citizens to stay home but also seeks to phase-in a return of certain business activity based on risk and workplace safety.  House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) has emphasized a similar desire to begin reopening Michigan businesses with a more regional approach, taking into account population densities and types of business activities that can be and are being performed safely in other states.

Governor Whitmer has acknowledged citizen frustration with the current E.O., but has emphasized she is not yet willing to scale back current restrictions based on consultations with health care professionals, who fear scaling back too early will only extend our current challenges.  However, the Governor also noted this week that her Administration is preparing for an eventual phased-in reopening of the Michigan economy, in cooperation with Midwest Governors and health care professionals based on facts and data, with the following minimum requirements:

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

With respect to the state budget, University of Michigan economists shared grim news on April 16, predicting that the state budget will see a 15.9% dip in General Fund (GF) revenues ($1.7 billion) and a 4% dip in School Aid Fund (SAF) revenues in 2020.  Growth is expected to be minimal next year and more robust in 2022.  Michigan does currently enjoy the ability to draw own upon a $1 billion Budget Stabilization Fund (BSF), but with unemployment applications now exceeding 1 million Michiganders, even a combination of BSF withdrawals and federal stimulus dollars will not be sufficient to prevent painful budget cuts this year and next. 

GLTPA has participated in conference calls with both Republican leaders to share our concerns pertaining to the need for flexibility to allow our industry to get through this crisis by working safely to supply critical raw materials to the economy.  We also have maintained dialogue and shared proposals with the Administration and DNR to identify ways to temporarily assist the industry, and will be participating in continued calls with key lawmakers as the Michigan Legislature develops adjustments to the current year budget and prepares a budget proposal for next year in early May. 

 

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The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA)

Provides proven leadership in the Lake States Forest products industry for over 70 years. GLTPA is a non-profit organization proud to represent members in Michigan and Wisconsin and is committed to leading Forest Products Industry in sustainable forest management.

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