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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This week, the Senate met to extend the governor’s expanded emergency and disaster declaration by 23 days through April 30.

The Senate took particular care to ensure the safety of all lawmakers and staff. During their time in the building, legislators maintained a distance of six feet between themselves and remained standing during session. Computers and voting buttons were not used, and before entering the Capitol, everyone was required to pass a health screening administered by the Michigan State Police with the assistance of medical professionals

These are unprecedented times, but I know that many are relying on state leaders to continue serving them to the best of our abilities. Sources of information for people in need of assistance can be found below, including information for employees and employers, and those with health care questions.

For coronavirus updates and information from the state of Michigan, visit: Here you will find the latest confirmed case numbers, information on the outbreak, detailed descriptions of the governor’s executive orders, and ways you can assist the medical professionals on the front lines of this battle.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns during these difficult times. You can reach my office via email at [email protected] or toll-free by phone at 855-347-8033.


Rick Outman
State Senator
33rd District


Legislature extends state of emergency through April 30

On Tuesday, I attended a special Senate session to approve a resolution that would limit Michigan’s state of emergency to 23 days through April 30. State law requires the Legislature to approve an emergency declaration that lasts beyond the initial 28-day period.

The governor last week asked for a 70-day extension of Michigan’s emergency declaration, but I, along with many legislators considered that to be too long given the rapidly changing information surrounding COVID-19.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 expands the governor’s expanded emergency and disaster declaration by 23 days through April 30. The resolution does not require the governor’s signature to take effect.

I think this was a good starting point that addresses the issue for the remainder of the month, while allowing us to revisit the decision when new information becomes available. In the meantime, we need to continue limiting the spread of the virus and start looking at ways to safely get people back to their normal daily routines.


Governor expands “stay home” executive order.

Yesterday, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-42, extending her prior “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through the end of April. As with the prior order, this limits gatherings and travel and requires all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home. Individuals may still do things like go to the store for groceries, go to the pharmacy and enjoy certain outdoor activities.

Executive Order 2020-42 contains more stringent limitations on stores to reduce the amount of traffic and limit interactions with workers and among shoppers. Large stores must limit the number of people in the store to four customers per every 1,000 square feet of customer floor space, while smaller stores must stay at or below 25% of the fire code occupancy limit. All stores are now also required to institute measures to ensure customers waiting for entry remain at least six feet apart.

The order also prohibits all businesses from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses who remain open are required to adopt social distancing practices and other measures to protect both workers and customers.

All public and private gatherings among persons outside a single household remain temporarily prohibited. Though you may leave the house to get groceries or needed supplies, the new order encourages people to limit the number of family members running errands as much as possible.

People may still engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, kayaking, canoeing, or any other recreational activity, so long as they continue to follow suggested guidelines like remaining at least six feet from people who do not live in their household and other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders. Travel for vacations or for any other purpose is now prohibited. Click here to read more about the governor’s recent executive order.

Many Michigan families have been forced to make incredibly difficult decisions and tremendous sacrifices during this epidemic. They have sacrificed many of their freedoms and, in many cases, their livelihoods.

The governor’s executive order fails to acknowledge this by taking a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach. There are certain parts of our state that could allow many workers to safely return to their jobs with updated safety protocols — which would be a much-needed step to getting people back to their daily lives and getting our economy back on track.

Yesterday’s order does not include the commonsense revisions that both residents and our economy need at this time.

I encourage each of you to contact her office to share your thoughts on the most recent executive order. Click here for information on how to contact the governor's office.

Other recent executive orders include:

EO-2020-37 - Temporary restrictions on entry into health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities — Rescission of Executive Order 2020-7. Read more here.

EO-2020-38 - Temporary extensions of certain FOIA deadlines to facilitate COVID-19 emergency response efforts. Read more here.

EO-2020-39 - Temporary relief from certain restrictions and requirements governing the provision of emergency medical services. Read more here.

EO-2020-40 - Temporary relief from certain credentialing requirements for motor carriers transporting essential supplies, equipment, and persons. Read more here.

EO-2020-41 - Encouraging the use of electronic signatures and remote notarization, witnessing, and visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

Additional information on the governor’s executive orders and other state news can be found here.


Governor ends in-person instruction for 2020 school year

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order ending in-person K-12 instruction for the 2019-20 school year. Under Executive Order 2020-35, schools will shift to distance learning formats to ensure our students are as fully prepared as possible for the next school year.

The top priority is the health of our students, teachers and administrative staff. At this time, bringing students together in a classroom environment simply poses too many health risks for everyone.

Instead, school districts will shift to distance learning formats to ensure Michigan students receive an education for the remainder of this school year. Many teachers and parents have been doing outstanding work to ensure our children have been continuing their education through distance learning since their schools were closed. I fully recognize the hard work and ingenuity of our teachers and parents, and I strongly believe there should be a mechanism to count this time toward instructional requirements.

The governor’s executive order requires each district to submit a detailed plan indicating how they will achieve distance learning. I support this, as parents deserve to know how schools will fully prepare their children for the next grade level or their seniors for college.

As we face this unprecedented challenge, we must do everything we can and provide all necessary resources — whether it be tutoring, remedial support or other tools — to ensure that every student is fully prepared for the next step in their academic careers.


Unemployment update

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed an agreement between Michigan and the U.S. Department of Labor to implement pandemic unemployment assistance and compensation programs that grant benefits to workers who do not already qualify for state unemployment benefits.

Workers include self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can no longer work because of the pandemic. The agreement also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months and extends benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks.

This applies to workers already in the unemployment system and eligible employees who still need to apply. These workers do not need to reapply if they have already applied, and those who still need to apply do not need to take additional steps and should file as usual.

If a worker’s application has previously been denied by the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) in the past three weeks, there is no need for them to reapply at this time. They will be notified by the agency with any additional action that may need to be taken.

UIA will provide additional guidance regarding eligibility and application details in the coming days as it implements these new programs.


Filing for UIA benefits

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The state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has been receiving an extremely high volume of calls and online submissions and the system is drastically overwhelmed.

Filing online remains the fastest way for Michiganders to apply for unemployment benefits. In addition, applying online during the off-peak hours of 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. should help expedite the process.

The agency has now implemented a system in an effort to assist heavy traffic on their website. People whose last name begins with A-L and wish to file online should file on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, while those whose last name begins with M-Z should file on Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday. Saturdays are for those who missed the assigned days above.

For those who prefer telephone, those whose last name begins with A-L should call on Monday or Wednesday, while those whose last name begins with M-Z should call on Tuesday or Thursday. Friday and Saturday are for those who missed the above opportunities. The call center has also extended its hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The 24-hour website operates faster when there are fewer people on the site at any given time. The UIA also urges Michiganders using the website to expect longer load times. It may take several minutes for a page to load at this time. Users are asked to be patient and not click more than once to reload a page.

Click here for a fact sheet for claiming unemployment benefits.


Consider lending a hand to those fighting for us

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Are you able to donate your time, expertise or critical items to fight coronavirus in Michigan?

Find out how you can help those in need.

Michigan needs trained medical professionals, other volunteers and supplies to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

I encourage individuals to visit the new volunteer website and find out how they can save lives and assist their community during this time of need.


Assistance for Employers

Work Share Program during a time of the reduction in hours, to help employees and employers. Details: Click here.
Unemployment Insurance information for employers: Click here.
An employer or employing unit will not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations.
The state of Michigan has an Office of Employer Ombudsman to contact with questions; 1-855-484-2636.
Click here for a federal guide of who are considered to be essential workers.

Our District

The 33rd state Senate District includes Clare, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, and Montcalm counties.

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Thank you for subscribing to my electronic newsletter! I am honored to represent you in the 33rd Senate District of Michigan. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Please feel free to forward this on to others who may be interested in receiving the 33rd District E-news. You may sign up for it also at my website.

Senator Rick Outman
4400 Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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