The changes announced by the governor to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order are not necessarily being well received by some lawmakers. In Berrien County, state Senator Kim LaSata and Representative Pauline Wendzel have issued statements saying they believe some parts of the economy can be safely reopened. LaSata notes state officials announced today that since the governor’s executive orders began to be issued in response to coronavirus, over 817,00 people have filed for unemployment. That is more than than the last two years combined. Wendzel is making a recommendation to a new House task force to allow some businesses to reopen if they can prove they can do so safely and adhere to all CDC guidelines.
Here is the full statement from Senator Kim LaSata:
State officials announced Thursday that more than 817,000 Michigan residents have filed for unemployment in the wake of executive orders that have effectively shut down the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state’s new jobless claims now total more than that of 2018 and 2019 combined.
Additionally, on Thursday afternoon Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-42, extending her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through April 30. It was her 39th COVID-19-related executive order to date.
“COVID-19 is killing more than just people — it is also destroying livelihoods and severely damaging our economy,” said Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “It is truly unfortunate that Gov. Whitmer has not taken the economic impact of her decisions more seriously.
“The Legislature took the governor seriously in extending the state’s emergency declaration, and she should have taken seriously requests to allow safe business operations in today’s order. We must strike a balance between protecting the public’s health and keeping the economy going.
“I have heard from numerous businesses from our district lamenting the fact that, while under similar circumstances, their competitors in Indiana are open for business while they are ordered closed. Our business owners and job providers are more than capable of operating safely — they have so far trusted the government during this crisis and it is time the government trusted them.”
On Tuesday, the Senate announced a bipartisan “Safe Behavior for Safe Workplaces” workgroup to begin the process of developing a plan to reopen the economy.
The workgroup will gather information from businesses, medical professionals and residents from throughout the state to create recommendations for best practices in the workplace in preparation for the transition back to work. The workgroup set an aggressive deadline to deliver its recommendations to the governor by April 17.
“I am confident that the new Safe Behavior for Safe Workplaces workgroup will develop sound recommendations that can help get our state back to work quickly and safely,” LaSata said. “I will continue to share feedback from my discussions with Southwest Michigan businesses with the workgroup as they conduct their thorough and expeditious work.
“Michigan can reopen its economy and stay safe, and we must do so before it is too late.”
Here is the full statement from Representative Wendzel:
State Rep. Pauline Wendzel today said the governor moved in the wrong direction when she put even more restrictions on people and businesses while extending her stay-at-home order until April 30th.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered that stores no longer sell what she considers non-essential items and block off those areas so customers cannot access them. The governor also said she will not follow the updated federal CISA guidelines that would allow more Michiganders to safely return to work while following social distancing practices.
Rep. Wendzel agrees it is important for people to continue social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19 but said rather than issuing more restrictions, the governor should focus on making common-sense adjustments to allow businesses to innovate and get back on their feet.
“The people I represent are struggling and frustrated, and they need real answers for what comes next,” Rep. Wendzel said.
“In Southwest Michigan, there’s no such thing as a non-essential business. Every business and their employees have a special place in our community and are woven into the fabric of the small towns scattered throughout our county. As we look to fight the COVID pandemic, it’s important that our people don’t become more of a casualty in this fight than they already have.”
Rep. Wendzel believes that small businesses that can operate safely should be allowed to open and that refusing to adapt to expert recommendations from CISA is foolish.
“Michiganders are some of the most resilient and innovative people in the world,” Rep. Wendzel said. “If they can find ways to operate safely and maintain social distancing guidelines, they should be allowed to open up and get back on their feet. We can fight this virus safely and smartly without killing our economy.” Rep. Wendzel continued, “the fact that the governor refuses to adapt to expert recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security as so many of her colleagues have done is troubling and isn’t supported by data. This additional clamp-down is the last thing we need right now and hurts not only business owners, but every single one of our friends and neighbors.”
Rep. Wendzel and her staff are working remotely, so they can continue to serve residents during the COVID-19 outbreak. People with questions or concerns can reach her office by calling 517-373-1403 or PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov