Whitmer says 830K Michiganders could lose unemployment benefits under ruling voiding her executive orders

(WWJ) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has questions about the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that voids her COVID-19 orders — with unemployment benefits among her chief concerns. 

Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Robert Gordon on Monday filed motions with the court, requesting that justices clarify that their Oct. 2 ruling does not take effect until Friday, Oct. 30.

Last Friday, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court struck down the statute under which the governor has issued coronavirus executive orders.

If the ruling does go into effect immediately, Whitmer says up to 830,000 Michigan workers and their families could lose crucial unemployment benefits.

Moreover, the state says critical measures meant to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus would also immediately lapse. Ensuring this transition period will allow the governor, local health departments, and the Michigan Legislature to work together to put protections in place that will keep Michiganders safe and protect our economy. 

“We need this transition period to protect the 830,000 Michigan workers and families who are depending on unemployment benefits to pay their bills and put food on the table, and to protect Michiganders everywhere who are counting on their leaders to protect them,” said Whitmer, in a statement. “The Supreme Court has spoken, and while I vehemently disagree with their ruling, I’m ready to work across the aisle with Republicans in the legislature where we can find common ground to slow the spread of the virus and rebuild our economy. It’s time for Republicans in the Legislature to get to work and start showing that they are taking this crisis seriously. They can start by canceling their October recess and getting back to work. Let’s work together and get this done.” 

Read the motions filed on Monday here, and here

“The Supreme Court’s ruling raises several legal questions that we are still reviewing. While we are moving swiftly, this transition will take time,” said DHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Make no mistake, Governor Whitmer will continue using every tool at her disposal to keep Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses safe from this deadly virus. The same is true for our department. We will use every statutory tool available to protect our state employees and the residents we serve. We also need Michiganders to do their part by wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of physical distancing, washing hands frequently, and getting their flu vaccine. We will get through this together.” 

Since the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Michigan nearly seven months ago, the state says Whitmer has taken swift action to protect Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses. The aggressive action Whitmer took against this virus has proven to have saved thousands of Michigan lives, according to the governor's office, which pointed out that CNN business has routinely ranked Michigan in the top 15 on their list of states that are getting their economies back on track. 

 “A transition period is critical to ensure protections for the 830,000 unemployed Michigan workers and families who are counting on us. These are men and women who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and depend on expanded benefits to buy prescriptions and groceries, pay their mortgage, and provide for their families, ” said Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio. “During this crucial transition, we will work closely with the governor and leaders everywhere to protect our workers whose jobs were affected by COVID-19.” 

After the Supreme Court issued their opinion on Friday, Whitmer vowed to continue working around the clock to fight this virus on behalf of Michigan families. She said, “I want the people of Michigan to know that no matter what happens, I will never stop fighting to keep you and your families safe from this deadly virus.”