Fearful that the Michigan Supreme Court ruling last Friday could halt unemployment benefits for up to 830,000 Michigan residents, Governor Whitmer and the head of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services have filed a motion with the court asking for clarification on the effective date of their ruling.
Today, the governor and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Robert Gordon filed that motion with the Michigan Supreme Court requesting clarification on their October 2nd ruling, hoping it does not take effect until Friday, October 30th. On Friday, October 2nd, the Supreme Court struck down the statute under which the governor has issued executive orders to save lives and protect Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses.
Whitmer contends that if the ruling went into effect immediately, up to 830,000 Michigan workers and their families could lose crucial unemployment benefits. Moreover, she adds, critical measures meant to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus would also immediately lapse. Ensuring a transition period through the end of the month, she says, will allow her, local health departments, and the Michigan Legislature to work together to put protections in place that will keep Michiganders safe and protect our economy.
Whitmer argues, “We need this transition period to protect the 830,000 Michigan workers and families who are depending on unemployment benefits to pay their bills and put food on the table, and to protect Michiganders everywhere who are counting on their leaders to protect them.” She adds, “The Supreme Court has spoken, and while I vehemently disagree with their ruling, I’m ready to work across the aisle with Republicans in the legislature where we can find common ground to slow the spread of the virus and rebuild our economy. It’s time for Republicans in the Legislature to get to work and start showing that they are taking this crisis seriously. They can start by canceling their October recess and getting back to work. Let’s work together and get this done.”
Meanwhile, DHHS Director Robert Gordon argues, “The Supreme Court’s ruling raises several legal questions that we are still reviewing. While we are moving swiftly, this transition will take time.” He adds, “Make no mistake, Governor Whitmer will continue using every tool at her disposal to keep Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses safe from this deadly virus. The same is true for our department. We will use every statutory tool available to protect our state employees and the residents we serve. We also need Michiganders to do their part by wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of physical distancing, washing hands frequently, and getting their flu vaccine. We will get through this together.”
Also weighing on the issue is Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio, who says, “A transition period is critical to ensure protections for the 830,000 unemployed Michigan workers and families who are counting on us. These are men and women who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and depend on expanded benefits to buy prescriptions and groceries, pay their mortgage, and provide for their families.” He adds, “During this crucial transition, we will work closely with the governor and leaders everywhere to protect our workers whose jobs were affected by COVID-19.”
Since the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Michigan nearly seven months ago, Governor Whitmer regularly has said that she has taken swift action to protect Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses. She also points out that the aggressive action she took against this virus has proven to have saved thousands of Michigan lives, and CNN business has routinely ranked Michigan in the top 15 on their list of states that are getting their economies back on track.
After the Supreme Court issued their opinion on Friday, Governor Whitmer vowed to continue working around the clock to fight the virus on behalf of Michigan families, saying, “I want the people of Michigan to know that no matter what happens, I will never stop fighting to keep you and your families safe from this deadly virus.”
To view the motions filed today, click the links below: