Michigan GOP to Whitmer: Use your powers to ease toll of coronavirus crisis

Michigan Republicans sent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a detailed list of requests to ease the burden on residents during the coronavirus crisis.

Michigan Republicans are calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to use her enhanced powers during the state of emergency in the coronavirus crisis to relax regulations and expand unemployment benefits.

On Friday, House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, sent Whitmer a detailed wish list that he said would help millions of residents “make it through this crisis, get back to work and get back to normal.”

Among the suggestions: letting workers collect unemployment and still work part-time; extending jobless benefits to independent contractors; accelerating or suspending license requirements for healthcare workers to respond to the emergency and allowing Canadian doctors to practice in the state.

The letter also urges Whitmer to allow online work by students during the crisis to count, one day after State Superintendent Michael Rice said state law doesn’t allow it.

“Many of these reforms would normally be pursued through legislative action and the passage of bills, but the immediate need of a response and constitutional limits on the speed of the Legislature have led us to offer these ideas to you and request their implementation through executive action,”Chatfield wrote.

“The challenges we are facing today are unprecedented, and our response must be as well.”

Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Whitmer, said Saturday the governor is considering the suggestions.

The GOP is advocating changes in healthcare regulation to create a bigger pool of potential workers as the number of infected is rising rapidly and hospitals are beginning to see the first waves of critically ill patients and deaths.

Besides relaxing licensing requirements, Chatfield’s letter also suggests expanding or dropping limits on “scopes of practice” — rules that say what exactly healthcare workers can and cannot do.

Republicans also want the state to allow more students in childcare facilities, which have stayed open as many businesses in the state close, expanded hours and make free childcare available to more families.

Currently, families of three have to make less than $25,116, or 123 percent of the federal poverty limit, to qualify. The GOP wants to push that to 130 percent, or about $28,900 for a family of three.

Whitmer and others have long sought to increase the threshold, one of the lowest in the country, but have met opposition from the Republican-led legislature.

Among the other GOP proposals:

  • Suspend fees for hunting and fishing licenses
  • Allow  restaurants and bars to sell alcohol for take out during their temporary closure. (Whitmer last week ordered dine-in restaurants to close)
  • Expand the moratorium on tax foreclosures past the May 29 deadline Whitmer ordered last week.

“Together, we can keep people safe, lessen the negative impact of this crisis on families who are living paycheck to paycheck, and fix some of the unintended consequences of government action,” Chatfield wrote.


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Sat, 03/21/2020 - 10:38pm

We don’t have any cases up in the Upper Peninsula, close the bridge & let us reopen our restaurants & bars!! Tipped worker’s are getting hit hard up here!! Like everything else though, it’s like we don’t exist up here!

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 12:07pm

What about the WI border?

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 12:13pm

What about the WI border? Its much bigger than the bridge.

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 3:28pm

You don't have any known cases – a huge difference than having no cases. People who are carrying the virus and can infect other people might not show any symptoms themselves.

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 7:31am

Sorry, that ship has sailed. Someone tested positive in Chippewa County and it looks like they think it was through community spread. “ The county announcement notes that health officials believe the risk to the general public is minimal. Nonetheless, Chippewa County Health Officer Karen Senkus urged residents to practice social distancing, noting that “coronavirus is likely in our community and not everyone who has it will be sick.”

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 10:40pm

Stay out of the UP unless you live up here!!

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 6:55pm

Agreed. I live in a remote northeastern part of the mitten and we've had people (many of whom have just come from highly infected counties, states, and countries) flying in on private planes and swarming us like flies. My family is sheltering in place to protect our at-risk loved ones:(

Guy knight
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 7:11pm

This is a free country we can go anywhere we want. And no one wants to deliberately give anyone this virus.

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 7:38am

You are correct this is a free country so do your due diligence as a responsible citizen and stay home. Staying home does not mean traveling to other uninfected counties.

Kathi Geukes
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 12:42am

Lee Chatfield has just shown everyone what a real jackass he is by wanting the Gov. to let vars and restauranrs sell liquor during this time....not a.good idea....get it from Meijers....I was there at 8 this morning and I saw plenty of.people buying it.....that and TP were two big sellers!!!!! I always knew rhis "man" didn't have a smart bone in his body!!!


Northern Michig...
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 10:35am

I agree with your assessment of Chatfield as a jackass, but for a different reason. He now wants to increase the income limit for childcare. Where have he and has Republican buddies been before this? Once again he proves that he only cares about having to make himself look good at the opportune time. I heard a rumor that his brother is going to running for his seat. Heaven help us all.

Not a seasonal ...
Mon, 03/23/2020 - 5:36am

I agree with your assessment of Lee Chatfield and MI GOP as a jackasses.

They asked the governor to allow church gatherings which puts healthcare workers needlessly at risk of contracting COVID19. Stop the madness; COVID19 is serious. Turn off FOX News and read newspapers from other countries. This is not a Democratic hoax. What are you going to do when first responders are in short supply, like all the medical gear and tests?

There are going to be a lot of mass graves and orphans when this is done. When the truth sets in and this is really bad, loved ones will be separated, not able to go in ambulances with sick relatives or friends, not able to visit them in the hospital, not able to talk by phone because you have to have pneumonia before you'll be treated, not able to attend funerals. Fifty percent of those admitted to hospitals will die and be cremated or the bodies will be transported who knows where.

Don't take my word, just use Google to translate newspaper websites in countries where the virus has spread already. We are about one or two weeks ahead of Italy.

So few sick people have even been tested here in the US that we have to assume many people are already infected and possibly asymptomatic. Funny how you can have all kinds of bad symptoms and it's still so hard to get tested, but Rand Paul said he had no symptoms and got tested out of an extreme sense of caution. He tested positive, but not before voting against any aid needed to attack this crisis.

These are our leaders who during the outbreak treated it like a hoax, told us everything was okay, sold their stock just before the crash, disregarded scientists and doctors, gathered and glad-handed each other at CPAC. They care only about the economy and hog the tests.

How many of you still think this is a Democratic hoax, no worse than seasonal flu?

Ironically now these are the latest GOP talking points: Don't politicize this. LOL That's all they ever do!

Gary Lea
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 7:35am

Allow restaurants and bars to sell alcohol for take out? Have packaged liquor merchants out of inventory? Address marijuana, too! A parson's son who had attempted to carry a loaded, unregistered handgun onto a commercial flight seems to be a rebellious, 'loose cannon' who surely recognizes that guns, bibles, and (now) legal substances of choice are some of the best means of weathering self-imposed isolation...

Charles Carpenter
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 8:25am

Great leadership from Chatfield, “OMG, you’re acting like a dictator doing stuff without the legislature! Wait, you want me to take responsibility for this cluster and do something that smells like spending money or raising taxes or regulating business?!?!? Oh no, you need to be demonstrating more leadership. Here’s my list - booze for hunters.” Geezzzz! I’m glad I voted for Whitmer. I wish I was able to vote against Chatfield.

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 8:54am

I hope that when the Governor talks to Chatfield and Shirkey, she reminds them of that time the Republicans adopted the citizens paid sick leave initiative and then gutted it during lame duck. The Governor should do what she can to help Michigan residents, but at least she can make those sit through a ten second reminder.

Kevin Grand
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 9:04am

Where is the letter?

The link above says, "page not found."

middle of the mit
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:56am

That is the same message that I get when I look for Republicans against Free Trade! But then again so do the centrist dems!



The price is set!!!

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 12:05pm

Closing the Bridge? What about he whole WI border?

Christine King
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 2:54pm

So, Chatfield doesn't understand science at all if he thinks that working "part-time" means anything to a virus.

tj jonson
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 6:18pm

covid19 Spectrum hospital has stopped and closed non essential PT and OT therapy Trinity PT and OT remain open exposing people to coronavirus needlessly this is fragmented decision making where $$$ rule not peoples lives Michigan has lost 8 lives shutter in for all Gov whiter was on ABC this week asking for tests LOL we need strong measures stay home close as many pass thru as possible and PT and OT therapy floods hundreds thru spreading the disease

Rug hunter
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 7:08pm

I feel things will reopen without this crisis properly being addressed.

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 7:24am

Generally sounds good to me. Glad to hear of the Michigan GOP is willing to compromise to help Michiganders at last.

As to online schooling. It would be good to hear how they can get students without access to computer or the internet those resources so everyone can learn.

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 2:20pm

So now the GOP wants to not only admit the need for unemployment but to relax the stipulations for all to apply.
Changed their tune real quick.

middle of the mit
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:34am

Read the comments.

YOu will know what side of the aisle they came from, remember the date like I do. Because they will DENY IT! Republicans will at least. Fake news! WE never claimed it was crap!

Yet here it is!