Stamas backs ‘Open Michigan Safely’ proposal

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas said he supports a new proposal designed to help Michigan workers return to their jobs safely and put the state’s economy back on track.

“I was frustrated that the governor didn’t listen to the people when she extended her stay-at-home order and instead made the situation worse for many Michigan families and small business owners,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The coronavirus is a serious health issue, and we need to be taking serious steps to fight it. However, those steps should also be responsible and should address both the public emergency and its impact on people’s lives and ability to support their families.

“There are many workers in our state who could safely return to work with proper safety measures but are currently being forced to stay home. This proposal outlines a strategic and phased-in approach to opening our state safely.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey on Thursday unveiled the Senate Republican “Open Michigan Safely” plan, which relies on measurable data points to serve as indicators of decreased risk. The proposal is structured in five phases that outline conditions in the state, suggest safe business operations, and propose guarded levels of public activity. The phases consider testing capability, hospital capacity, availability of personal protection equipment, and a vaccine or similar medical breakthrough to combat COVID-19.

The proposal would allow low-risk businesses to operate during Phase 1. Low-risk businesses are those with little to no physical contact between employers, employees and customers. People who can perform their jobs without the need for physical contact with another person would be allowed to resume work, such as workers who mow lawns or spray for outdoor pests.

Senate Republicans have shared the proposal with Gov. Whitmer and asked her to respond prior to April 30 on how it can be incorporated into short- and long-term plans for Michigan.