Michigan House approves COVID-19 relief bill Monday

The measure now lands on the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who called on state lawmakers to approve the bill.
Posted at 10:27 AM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 10:27:09-05

LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) — The Michigan House announced it approved a $483 million COVID-19 relief package by a vote of 97-5 on Monday.

A $465 million version of the bill, which was approved by the Michigan Senate on Friday, has bipartisan support and will offer Michigan residents and businesses some financial help. The measure now lands on the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who called on state lawmakers to approve the bill.

According to the house, the bill includes:

  • $64 million has been set aside to help small businesses that have been closed or had their operations limited by shutdowns.
  • $220 million will go towards unemployment benefits. It extends benefits from 20 to 26 weeks.
  • $45 million will be given to workers who have been laid off or furloughed. That includes up to $1,650 of state aid per person who has lost their job.
  • $75 million in hazard pay will be allocated for hospitals and healthcare workers.
  • $22 million will go to increased COVID-19 testing.
  • $57 million for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

“This budget bill provides critical support to the workers and small, family businesses who have been left behind by their government and extends a lifeline right when they need it the most,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield said. “People are worried about the effects of the latest shutdown and what it means for their families. We are listening and looking for ways to help. Of course, the best way to help people is to follow the science and safely and securely reopen Michigan’s schools and small businesses. Until that happens, we will continue to fight for the people we represent, support working families with our votes, and ensure everyone can continue to make ends meet.”

The vote is the latest funding action taken by the Michigan Legislature to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to dozens of policy reforms and multiple plans announced going back to March, the Legislature has spent more than $6 billion to fight the pandemic.

That spending includes almost $3 billion to support unemployed workers and their families, hundreds of millions of dollars to fund local emergency services, funding for childcare and education, and small business and farm support.

“The coronavirus created an impossible situation, and many leaders did the best they can. But the simple truth is the state government’s uneven, inconsistent and often-politicized approach to this virus created hardship for far too many Michigan residents,” Chatfield said. “This is an important vote and an important spending plan to help families, but it is only a temporary solution. Moving forward, the state government must provide better answers.”

It’s not immediately clear how soon the funds could be accessible. The Michigan House is expected to adjourn for the year later today.