Governor Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Bills Protecting Workers and Businesses that do their Part to Protect Michiganders from COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

October 22, 2020 

Contact: press@michigan.gov

 

Governor Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Bills Protecting Workers and Businesses that do their Part to Protect Michiganders from COVID-19 
Governor also signs other House and Senate bills into law 
 

LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan House Bills 6030-6032 protecting Michigan workers from the spread of COVID-19 and protecting businesses that implement strict safety measures to keep workers, customers, and their families safe. The governor also signed a number of other bills, outlined below. 
 
“No Michigander should have to worry about going into work when they’re sick, especially during a global pandemic,” said Governor Whitmer. “These bipartisan bills ensure crucial protections for our workers and businesses who do their part to protect our families and frontline workers from the spread of COVID-19. I look forward to more collaboration with the legislature where we can find common ground. Michiganders: remember to mask up, practice safe physical distancing, wash your hands frequently, and get your flu vaccine. Be smart, and stay safe.” 
 
The bills the governor signed today require employers to allow workers who are exposed to COVID-19 or exhibit the symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home, and prohibit retaliation against employees for staying home when sick or exposed to the virus. The bills also provide a minimum damages award of $5,000 for violations. Awards may be higher than that in the event of more serious conduct or injuries. 
 
“Across our state, businesses, nonprofits, child care, academic facilities and the medical community have invested resources, time and energy in complying with public health requirements and operating in a safe manner. This legislation is good news for entities that have made these investments, and that continue to follow COVID-19 laws and regulations, allowing them to proceed with confidence and certainty,” said Wendy Block, Vice President of Business Advocacy and Member Engagement for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “We applaud the governor and legislative leaders for coming together to resolve a controversial issue.” 
 
“AFSCME wants to sincerely thank Governor Whitmer for standing up for all working people who desperately want to be safe at work,” said Michigan AFSCME Council 25 President Lawrence A. Roehrig. “During any catastrophe, but especially during a pandemic of this magnitude, no employers should be allowed to cut corners on safety measures. No workers should fear retaliation when they stick up for their own health and safety as the labor movement in general and AFSCME in particular have trained them to do. This bill is monumental in helping to make ALL of us in Michigan safer and healthier and we just want to say ‘thank you’ for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s leadership.” 
 
House Bills 6030-6032 protect Michigan businesses that comply with relevant COVID-19-related laws, including epidemic orders and rules. HB 6030 make clears that when a business complies with all relevant COVID-19 related statutes, orders, and rules issued by federal, state, and local authorities, they cannot be held liable for a person becoming sick at the business. HB 6031 makes clear that when an employer complies with all relevant COVID-19 related statutes, orders, and rules issued by federal, state, and local authorities, they cannot be held liable under the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Act for a worker becoming sick at work. 
 
House Bill 6030 was sponsored by Rep. Tom Albert (R-Lowell). House Bill 6031 was sponsored by Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming) and Rep. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit). House Bill 6032 was sponsored by Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt). 
 
Governor Whitmer also signed a number of other bills into law. 
 
House Bills 4459-4460 and 4990-4991 together protect consumers against surprise medical billing. Instead of a consumer potentially being stuck with a bill they can’t pay when they receive care at an in-network hospital but see an out-of-network doctor, their insurance company will pay the doctor according to a formula specified in the bill. The bills also provide for certain good-faith cost estimate disclosures in nonemergency situations and other consumer protections. Additionally, the bills limit the ability of an out-of-network provider to bill a patient directly for certain emergency costs, rather the provider and the insurer will now settle the disputed charge. These bills put Michigan among the states leading the charge for consumer protection when it comes to surprise medical billing. HB 4459-4460 were sponsored by Representative Frank Liberati (R-Allen Park), and HB 4490-4491 were sponsored by Representative Roger Hauck (R-Beal City).   
 
House Bill 6159 codifies protections for medical providers and facilities provided by Executive Order 2020-30 and 2020-61. The bills will apply retroactively on or after March 29, 2020 and before July 14, 2020. The bill was sponsored by Representative Roger Hauck (R-Beal City).   
 
House Bill 6192 provides extensions for the validity of certain permits, licenses, and registrations issued by the Secretary of State. Many of these permits were extended once already to September 30, 2020. This second extension makes many permits, licenses, and registrations valid until December 11, 2020. The bill was sponsored by Representative Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann).  
 
Senate Bill 1094 requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to evaluate the operation, efficacy, clinical outcomes, and performance of nursing homes throughout the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill also creates a series of requirements surround the state’s COVID-19 nursing home policy. DHHS, in consultation with LARA, will work to provide a statewide visitation policy, implement plans concerning COVID-19 laboratory testing, a process to approve care and recovery facilities among other key goals before November 15, 2020. The bill was sponsored by Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township). 
 
See below for a photo from the governor's bill signing:

 

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