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Michigan AG joins 20 states in call for Trump administration to focus resources on coronavirus crisis

Attorneys general request administration to postpone rulemaking unrelated to COVID-19 pandemic

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 20 Attorneys General in urging the federal government to postpone any non-essential rulemaking unrelated to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic amid the outbreak, officials said.

The attorneys general are requesting that rulemaking and resources are focused only on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This action is essential to managing this public health crisis and the unfathomable impact it has had at every level across this nation,” said Nessel. “COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc over our communities, and the primary focus of all federal, state and local agencies must be to do everything possible to halt its destruction.”

The attorneys general sent a letter to the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Tuesday calling for a general freeze on any new or pending rules that don’t address emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial or national security matters, or that aren’t required by statutory or judicial deadlines, officials said.

Officials say the coalition of attorneys general are also requesting the administration to reopen particular rule comment periods that would allow federal agencies to receive new input from state and local governments, businesses and others impacted by the pandemic.

“My colleagues and I recognize that very important rulemaking could be delayed based on what we request in our letter, but we also recognize the enormity of the COVID-19 crisis and to stop its destruction, we must remain laser-focused on our response,” Nessel added.

Officials say that some of the rule proposals that could be postponed under this request include proposals that would eliminate or roll back protections against predatory lending, housing discrimination, sexual harassment and violence in education and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in federally funded programs.

Other programs that could be postponed, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps, would affect far more Americans today than originally proposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak’s economic impact, officials said.

In the letter, the coalition argues that a general freeze is necessary so that the federal government doesn’t establish rules that would call for action by state or local governments, businesses, other organizations or the public during this public health crisis, as their ability to meet and communicate is limited, officials said.

Nessel submitted the letter in collaboration with the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

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