Michigan House approves $465M virus relief bill

Coronavirus

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan families could soon see some COVID-19 economic relief from the state.

House representatives approved Senate Bill 748 Monday morning in Lansing. The measure now heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for her approval.

“The House has approved a relief plan to protect the people of Michigan from COVID-19 and its economic repercussions. We’ve allocated more than $3B from state budgets, plus the allocation of federal jobless funds to top $6B to fight COVID-19,” Michigan House Republicans tweeted Monday morning.

The $465 million bill passed in the Senate Friday. It offers $45 million in aid to employees who have been laid off or had their work hours cut because of the virus. Each worker could get upwards of $1,600.

Small businesses affected by the recent orders with less than 100 employees will receive $55 million in grants of up to $20,000 each. Certain concert and entertainment sites could qualify for $40,000 as part of a separate $3.5 million grant program.

The deal also includes funding for COVID-19 testing with $51 million going towards vaccine distribution.

The Legislature reached this deal with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, so she is expected to sign off on it in the coming days.

Following the vote, Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield released the following statement to our sister station, WLNS:

“This budget bill provides critical support to the workers and small, family businesses who have been left behind by their government and extends a lifeline right when they need it the most,” said Speaker Chatfield. “People are worried about the effects of the latest shutdown and what it means for their families. We are listening and looking for ways to help. Of course, the best way to help people is to follow the science and safely and securely reopen Michigan’s schools and small businesses. Until that happens, we will continue to fight for the people we represent, support working families with our votes and ensure everyone can continue to make ends meet.”

“The coronavirus created an impossible situation, and many leaders did the best they can. But the simple truth is the state government’s uneven, inconsistent and often-politicized approach to this virus created hardship for far too many Michigan residents,” said Chatfield. “This is an important vote and an important spending plan to help families, but it is only a temporary solution. Moving forward, state government must provide better answers.

“We need a real long-term plan everyone can track, like the one House Republicans offered the governor months ago. We need real metrics that give small businesses a path to reopening if they and their communities can do it safely. We need industries without lobbyists to be treated equally with those who have a strong Lansing presence. And we need leadership at the top that understands all of these things are missing and how damaging that is to working people around the state.”

Whitmer says she first sent a letter to state lawmakers on Nov. 25, asking them to pass a $100 million relief bill. She issued the following statement Monday:

“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief as we head into the winter. This bipartisan relief bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eradicate COVID-19 once and for all. There is still more work to do to beat this virus and grow our economy. All Michiganders have a personal responsibility to do their part and mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. And I urge everyone who is still doing last-minute holiday shopping to buy local to support your favorite businesses and restaurants.

“Of course, we still need our leaders in Washington to work together on behalf of states like Michigan. Congress is expected to pass a relief bill today that includes stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, rental and eviction relief, money for schools and small business loans. This is a good start, but we need Washington to continue working to provide federal funding to states to fund crucial services like police and fire, emergency responders, Medicaid, higher education, and more. These services could face cuts without help from the federal government. I will continue holding our leaders in Washington accountable.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel. As we continue working to eliminate this virus, I urge all Michiganders to be smart and stay safe. We will get through this when we continue working together.”

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