LANSING, Mich. – For the second time this month, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is asking state lawmakers for a permanent extension of unemployment benefits due to COVID-19.
The governor took aim at the Republican-led state legislature during her Tuesday (Dec. 15) COVID-19 briefing, urging them to take action on a number of issues, including bipartisan COVID-19 restrictions, unemployment benefits and a $100 million stimulus plan.
“I also need them to remember to pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits,” Whitmer said. “I appreciate the Senate’s expansion of unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, through March, but we really need to work together to pass a permanent extension to protect the countless Michiganders and their livelihoods.”
Whitmer said thousands of Michiganders are in danger of losing benefits at the end of the year.
Tension between Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature has existed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers didn’t approve of Whitmer’s emergency orders issued throughout the pandemic, saying she shouldn’t be able to make such decisions without their approval.
Legislators eventually got their way when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the law Whitmer was using to issue those orders is “unconstitutional.”
But days after Whitmer’s orders were shot down by that ruling, MDHHS came out and issued its own orders, which mirrored many of the ones that were previously in place.
On Nov. 15, Whitmer and MDHHS Director Robert Gordon held a news conference to announce stricter COVID-19 rules were being put in place for three weeks -- from Nov. 18 through Dec. 8.
On Dec. 7, the pause was extended an additional 12 days -- until Dec. 20 -- so officials could gauge the impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Michigan reported 4,730 new COVID-19 cases and 183 additional deaths (71 from a Vital Records review) on Tuesday, bringing the state totals to 442,715 cases and 10,935 deaths since the start of the pandemic.