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LARA Director Orlene Hawks Testifies Before COVID-19 Joint Select Committee

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-335-LARA (5272)

June 11, 2020 – Orlene Hawks, the director of the Department of Licensing Affairs (LARA), testified before the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic this morning, answering lawmakers’ questions and sharing details on the work that LARA has done during the coronavirus crisis.

“I want to thank our dedicated staff at LARA who have truly stepped up to the plate during this pandemic,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “The LARA team has worked tirelessly over the past 12 weeks to ensure that we continue fulfilling our mission and serving the people of Michigan during these challenging times.”

Under Governor Whitmer’s leadership, LARA has focused its time and attention on the following subjects in responding to COVID-19:

  • Helping our health care professionals on the frontlines
  • Protecting our most vulnerable citizens
  • Partnering with industry stakeholders to safely restart our economy
  • Collaborating with other state agencies to meet immediate needs


LARA recognized the challenges for licensed health care professionals to meet certain requirements while working on the frontlines and, in response to Governor Whitmer’s executive orders, offered the ability to help graduating students obtain their license sooner so they can begin responding to the pandemic.  LARA continues to work with licensees, professional associations, universities, and community colleges to simplify the licensing process and continue to issue licenses efficiently during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the period from March 10, 2020 through June 7, 2020, LARA staff processed thousands of health professional licenses:

  • Registered Nurse – 3,460
  • Licensed Practical Nurse – 231
  • Registered Nurse Specialty – 154
  • Medical Doctor – 791
  • MD Educational Limited (Residency) – 1,160
  • MD Clinical Academic Limited – 7
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine & Surgery – 225
  • DO Educational Limited – 449
  • MD/DO Medical Compact License – 67
  • Physician Assistant – 78
  • Respiratory Care/Therapy – 33
  • Pharmacist – 80
  • Pharmacy Technician – 686
  • Pharmacist Intern – 93

In the same time frame, LARA also processed:

  • 14,467 health and occupational licenses
  • 791 licenses for electrical journey, builder, plumbing apprentice registration, other skilled trades.
  • 4856 hospital beds
  • 210 nursing home beds
  • 47 inpatient psychiatric beds

Department-wide, 133,762 licensees renewed their licenses and 46,649 Liquor Control Commission permits were also renewed during this time.

Nursing Homes Inspections

LARA is currently conducting infection control surveys and immediate jeopardy investigations in nursing homes throughout the state of Michigan. From March 26, 2020 to June 7, 2020, 368 of the 442 federally certified nursing homes in Michigan have had infection control inspections. If LARA investigators witness an immediate jeopardy situation where the health and safety of residents are at high level risk, the survey team works with the facility to remove the immediacy of the immediate jeopardy.

LARA is at the top of the list when it comes to the percent of state nursing homes inspected in the Great Lakes region:

  • Michigan 368/442 (83.3%)
  • Minnesota 246/368 (66.8%)
  • Indiana 270/534 (50.6%)
  • Illinois 313/722 (43.4%)
  • Ohio 293/953 (30.7%)
  • Wisconsin 105/355 (29.6%) 

Advisory Workgroups

LARA has also continued to lead stakeholder discussions spanning various industries to seek their input and expertise on how to re-start safely.  From these stakeholder discussions and ongoing discussions with various occupational and health professional associations, licensees, other state agencies, and organizations, LARA is able to gain insights and provide further guidance as industries and licensed professionals work to re-build our economy.

“I want to thank our licensees and stakeholders who regularly engage with our LARA team so that we are well informed about their challenges and can appropriately respond to any needs that arise,” said Hawks. 

Liquor Control Commission

The Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) created the Spirits Buy Back Program for On-Premises Retailer Licenses and sent cash advances to 673 licensees for a total of $3,374,096.61. The MLCC also launched a reopening website page containing information about a new limited outdoor service permit and a streamlined application process for limited and permanent outdoor service permits, enabling restaurants/bars to expand their outdoor service area.

From May 19 to June 9, 2020, the MLLC has approved the following new permits, on average, within three days:

  • 97 permanent outdoor service permits (valid indefinitely)
  • 165 limited outdoor service permits (valid through 10/31/2020)
  • 193 total outdoor service permits

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