By Sen. Jon Bumstead, 34th Senate District
I have had numerous conversations with my colleagues and folks back home in the district about what the state is doing to ease some of the economic stress and start transitioning Michiganders back to work.
As public officials, our number one priority is keeping the general public safe. At the same time, we need to find a way to balance this responsibility with the state’s economy and the livelihoods of countless Michigan families. We cannot slow our state to a halt as we work to address the ever-changing needs surrounding the coronavirus.
Business owners and employees have made their opinions clear, have shown their plans to operate safely and have proven their ability to do so. More and more research is suggesting certain industries, under the proper safety protocols, can return to work without any increased risk over their normal working conditions.
In mid-March the federal government outlined standards for essential workers. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer subsequently adopted the recommended guidelines for essential workers in Michigan. As new information and research were made available, the federal government issued amended guidelines on two separate occasions: the first set of changes came on March 28 and the most recent on April 17.
I joined my colleagues Tuesday morning in approving two resolutions that encourage Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to adopt the updated federal guidelines for essential workers and begin getting Michiganders safely back to work.
Senate Resolution 112 calls on the governor to join other states in adopting the most recent federal guidelines for which employees are “essential,” which would allow more workers to return to work who can safely do so. The federal guidelines outline changes, include updated safety procedures for different industries and provide a road map for businesses to begin safely returning to work. Workers in construction and other fields are being allowed to return to work in our neighboring states so long as proper safety measures are followed, but those in the same fields remain unable to work here in Michigan.
The Senate also approved SR 111 urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to revise Executive Order 2020-17 and allow hospitals and health care facilities to resume elective procedures.
The executive order, which took effect March 21, required hospitals, freestanding surgical outpatient facilities, dental facilities, and all state-operated outpatient facilities to postpone all nonessential procedures. More than 12 states with similar executive restrictions have since dialed back those restrictions and deemed it safe for health care providers to resume elective procedures.
Michigan residents have had their health care put on hold while doctors attempt to determine which procedures are allowed under the governor’s ambiguous order.
Prohibiting hospitals and doctors from safely performing certain procedures has crippled the finances of the very health care providers who have been on the front lines of our battle against COVID-19. We need to get the hospital employees who have been laid off back to work and allow Michiganders to receive the care they need.
I voted in favor of both resolutions as I believe we need to have clear and consistent guidelines on which industries are able to work and under what circumstances. Many states have accepted these updated guidelines for critical workers and more than 12 states have resumed medical procedures and surgeries.
My colleagues and I will continue working with other industries as they prove they can operate without posing any danger to employees or patrons. I believe today’s action and the relaxations announced in the governor’s most recent stay-home order are a good place to start these discussions.
Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, represents the 34th state Senate District, which includes Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties.
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