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Tag Archive | "Executive Order"

Gov. signs order allowing public bodies to meet electronically


Governor Whitmer delivers a speech regarding the coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Whitmer).

LANSING, Mich. – On Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-15 to order a temporarily change to the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to conduct their meetings electronically, while also facilitating public participation, until April 15, 2020 at 11:59PM. 

“We are taking every measure we can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect Michigan families, but recognize that public bodies still have an obligation to conduct business as usual,” Whitmer said. “During this crisis, we must ensure that public officials can do their job to meet the needs of residents, while also ensuring that meetings remain open, accessible and transparent to the public.”  

Under Executive Order 2020-15, public bodies that are subject to the Open Meetings Act, including boards, commissions, committees, subcommittees, authorities, councils, and nonprofit boards, can use telephone- or video- conferencing methods to continue meeting and conducting business during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis, so long as they follow certain procedures to ensure meaningful access and participation by members of the public body and the general public. 

In order to maintain the level of transparency that Governor Whitmer has sought under previous executive actions taken during her first month in office, public bodies must meet the following criteria when holding a public meeting electronically: 

Ensure two-way communication for members and the public to hear and address each other. 

Provide adequate notice to the public of the meeting. 

Post a public meeting notice on their website. 

Permit participants to record or broadcast the public meeting.  

Allow participants to address the public body during a public comment period. 

The order also temporarily authorizes public bodies, departments, and agencies to use technology to enable remote participation in public comment and hearings, and temporarily excuses school boards from monthly meeting requirements.  

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Governor expands unemployment benefits for Michigan workers


LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-10 this week to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. This executive order is effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59pm.

Under the governors order, unemployment benefits would be extended to:

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill. 
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off. 
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19. 

“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families”, said Governor Whitmer. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I urge everyone to make smart choices at this time, and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

“We know that many families are and will experience economic pain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jeff Donofrio, Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “Our expansion of unemployment and workers compensation benefits is designed to help provide emergency support to Michigans working families.”

The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance.

Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended:

  • Benefits will be increased from 20 to 26 weeks. 
  • The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days 
  • The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.  

Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA   https://www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-78421_97241—,00.html ]or 1-866-500-0017. A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/uia/160_-_Claiming_UI_Benefit_In_Michigan_-_Jan2014_444213_7.pdf ]. 

Under the order, an employer or employing unit must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations. 

The order also expands the States Work Share program. Employers are encouraged to implement the program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. More information about Work Share can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/uia/156_-_Shared_work_fact_sheet_letter_426209_7.pdf.

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Governor prohibits large gatherings


Governor orders that events and shared-space assemblages over 250 people be canceled or postponed

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-5 to cancel all events over 250 people and all assemblages in shared spaces over 250 people beginning on Friday, March 13 at 5:00 p.m. and ending on Sunday, April 5 at 5:00 p.m. The governors executive order also closes all K-12 school buildings to students from Monday, March 16 until Sunday, April 5. Childcare facilities will remain open during this time, whether they are attached to schools or free standing.

Under this executive order, all events and shared-space assemblages of more than 250 people are temporarily prohibited in the state. Certain assemblages are exempt from this prohibition, such as those for the purpose of: industrial or manufacturing work, mass transit, or the purchase of groceries or consumer goods.

“This is about protecting the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus”, said Governor Whitmer. “My administration will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread, and to ensure our children, families, and businesses have the support they need during this time. We are going to get through this, but we must be flexible and take care of each other.”

“Prohibiting large assemblages is the smart thing to do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “It’s crucial that everyone in Michigan follow these orders and make smart choices that will slow the spread of the virus, including practicing good hygiene and social distancing. We will continue to work with the governor and our partners across state government to protect Michigan families and businesses.”

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  * Fever

  * Cough

  * Shortness of breath

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:

  * If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.

  * Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer. 

  * Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 

  * Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing. 

  * Avoid contact with people who are sick. 

  * If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.

  * Replace handshakes with elbow bumps.

  * Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/ and CDC.gov/Coronavirus https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

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EarthTalk®


E – The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is the “National Food Policy” that environmentalists and foodies are asking President Obama to enact by Executive Order, and how would it affect American diets?

  — Justin Brockway, Los Angeles, CA

 

Existing federal guidelines for the U.S. diet, known as MyPlate, recommend that half the food we eat should be fruits and vegetables, yet these foods are granted less than one percent of farm subsidies.

Existing federal guidelines for the U.S. diet, known as MyPlate, recommend that half the food we eat should be fruits and vegetables, yet these foods are granted less than one percent of farm subsidies.

A November 2014 op-ed piece in The Washington Post entitled “How a National Food Policy Could Save Millions of American Lives” makes the case for President Obama to sign into law an executive order establishing a national food policy for managing the nation’s food system as a whole.

Authored by food writers Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan, along with Union of Concerned Scientists’ Ricardo Salvador and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, the op-ed states that because of unhealthy diets, a third of our kids will develop Type 2 diabetes—a preventable disease that was formerly rare in children.

“Type 2 diabetes is a disease that, along with its associated effects, now costs $245 billion, or 23 percent of the national deficit in 2012, to treat each year,” the authors note. “The good news is that solutions are within reach—precisely because the problems are largely a result of government policies.” The authors cite Brazil and Mexico—countries they consider “far ahead of the United States in developing food policies”—as examples for positive change: “Mexico’s recognition of food as a key driver of public health led to the passage last year of a national tax on junk food and soda, which in the first year has reduced consumption of sugary beverages by 10 percent and increased consumption of water.”

While the White House has not responded in any way to the suggestion thus far, the article’s message that the current food system has caused “incalculable damage” remains alarming.

Whether or not to pass our own tax on junk food and soda in the U.S. has been the subject of much debate in recent years. Some say it’s deceitful to suggest that a tax on sodas is necessary to curb obesity and Type 2 diabetes when numerous other unhealthy options like sugary caffeinated beverages, candy, ice cream, fast food and video games that promote sedentary behavior would still be widely available. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Public Economics suggests that soft drink taxation leads to a moderate reduction in soft drink consumption by children and adolescents; however “this reduction in soda consumption is completely offset by increases in consumption of other high-calorie drinks.” Furthermore, in 2010, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that “an extra 12 cents on a can of soda would raise nearly $1 billion,” which suggests that government officials expect people to continue buying soda despite the tax.

Even though passing a soda tax has proven to be controversial, The Washington Post op-ed clearly points out the federal government’s contradictions concerning food. Existing federal guidelines for the U.S. diet, known as MyPlate, recommend that half the food we eat should be fruits and vegetables, yet these foods are granted less than one percent of farm subsidies. Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of subsidies go toward corn and other grains. The result, the op-ed states, is the “spectacle of Michelle Obama warning Americans to avoid high-fructose corn syrup at the same time the president is signing farm bills that subsidize its production.”

EarthTalk® is produced by Doug Moss & Roddy Scheer and is a registered trademark of Earth Action Network Inc. View past columns at: www.earthtalk.org. Or e-mail us your question: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

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