FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kim Nowack, Mackinac Bridge Authority, 906-643-7600
2020 Mackinac Bridge Walk suspended
May 13, 2020 — Echoing a focus on safety that led it to bar public traffic from the bridge during the Annual Bridge Walk beginning in 2017, the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) today suspended this year’s event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The unanimous board decision came at a special meeting this afternoon, conducted online due to the pandemic. The meeting was available for public viewing and commenting through YouTube and Livestream.
Acknowledging the event’s benefit to Straits community economies, board Chairman Patrick “Shorty” Gleason made it clear that the suspension is for the 2020 event only and said he currently expects the walk would resume in 2021.
“We recognize that September is months away but the event requires months of planning and early expenditures,” Gleason said. “Like organizers who have postponed festivals and other summer events, we needed to make a decision now.”
Based on science and the forecasts from top medical officials, board members observed that it is likely the pandemic will be a health and safety concern, particularly for events that attract large crowds, for the foreseeable future. “We can’t in good conscience continue with an event we know draws people from across our state and beyond, and puts them shoulder-to-shoulder for hours, when medical advice strenuously advises against such gatherings,” Gleason said.
MBA Vice-Chairman Matt McLogan, who chairs the authority’s finance committee noted that toll revenues have been declining the past two months along with traffic volumes, diminishing funds available for the more than $300,000 in expenses the MBA incurs for the walk.
“The walk is a wonderful tradition, which I have consistently supported. But the MBA must hold the line on expenses wherever it can now because we don’t know when or if regular traffic volumes will resume,” McLogan said. “Pausing the Walk for 2020 is the responsible course of action.”
The board heard several comments from the public, both opposing and supporting suspension of the walk.
Each year, between 25,000 and 57,000 people from several states and countries have come to the Mackinac Bridge for the Annual Bridge Walk, which has taken place since 1958, the year after the bridge opened to traffic. In recent years, since the bridge has been closed to traffic during the event, 25,000 to 30,000 people have participated.
Protect workers. Protect drivers. Safe work zones for all.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor Whitmer and Plaintiffs Announce Settlement in Right to Read Literacy Case
LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer and plaintiffs in the Gary B. right to read literacy case issued the following joint statement tonight announcing a settlement agreement:
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement that will help secure the right of access to literacy for students in Detroit who faced obstacles they never should have faced. This landmark court decision recognizes that every child in Michigan deserves an opportunity to obtain an education, which is essential to having a strong foundation in life and a brighter future.”
Additional details on the settlement agreement will be forthcoming later today on Thursday, May 14.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2020
Media Contact: Press@michigan.gov
Governor Whitmer Details Six Phases of Her MI Safe Start Plan
Governor Announces Michigan is in Phase Three
LANSING, Mich. — Today, after announcing that Michigan’s manufacturing workers will return to work on Monday, May 11, Governor Gretchen Whitmer detailed the six phases of her MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy. The governor has worked with leaders in health care, business, labor, and education to develop the plan, and announced today that Michigan is in phase three.
The phases of the pandemic include:
1) UNCONTROLLED GROWTH: The increasing number of new cases every day, overwhelming our health systems.
2) PERSISTENT SPREAD: We continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity.
3) FLATTENING: The epidemic is no longer increasing and the health-system’s capacity is sufficient for current needs.
4) IMPROVING: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining.
5) CONTAINING: Continued case and death rate improvements, with outbreaks quickly contained.
6) POST-PANDEMIC: Community spread not expected to return.
“I am working closely with health care experts and epidemiologists to closely monitor Michigan’s progress in the fight against COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “As we move forward with the MI Safe Start Plan, I am working closely with partners in business, labor, and education to determine the best way to move forward each day. All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again. We’ve already reopened lower-risk sectors like construction, manufacturing, and lawn care.
“The worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made. That’s why we will continue to monitor the spread of this virus, hospital capacity, testing rates, and more as we work toward reaching the ‘improving’ phase.”
Click the link below for the governor’s full MI Safe Start Plan:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2020
Governor Whitmer Extends Executive Order Allowing Public Bodies to Meet Remotely
LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-75, which extends a previous Executive Order that allows public bodies to conduct remote public meetings during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Order 75 expires on June 30, 2020.
“As we continue to flatten the curve, it’s important to give public bodies the flexibility they need to conduct virtual meetings and limit in-person contact,” Governor Whitmer said. “During this ongoing crisis, it’s critical to ensure public officials can continue to do their jobs and meet the needs of residents, while also ensuring meetings remain open, accessible and transparent to the public.”
Under Executive Order 2020-75, public bodies 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.
Public bodies must meet the following criteria when holding a public meeting electronically:
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.
To view Executive Order 2020-75, click the links below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2020
Governor Whitmer Takes Significant Step
LANSING – Governor Gretchen Whitmer today announced a $130 million investment to make child care more affordable and accessible for Michigan families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Child care providers have been critical partners in helping our state respond to COVID-19, and we are extremely grateful for their service,” Governor Whitmer sai
Michigan has created the “Child Care Relief Fund” to provide direct, non-competitive grants to child care providers. These funds help ensure:
Michigan’s Child Care Relief Fund consists of $100 million in federal CARES Act funding and $30 million from the state’s child care fund, both dedicated to be used only for child care services.
Licensed child care centers, family group homes, tribal child care providers, provisional disaster relief child care centers, and subsidized license exempt providers are all eligible for Michigan’s Child Care Relief Fund grants.
Grant recipients must commit to reducing their weekly rates for families by at least 10 percent, and provide care for children of essential workers regardless of where their parents or caregivers work. Grant recipients must also agree not to charge a fee to hold a child’s spot in a program while receiving grant funds.
“These funds will help sustain high quality child care that is vital for Michigan’s children and families,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Whether it’s to help child care providers cover fixed costs like their mortgage, utilities, insurance, or payroll, we wanted the funds to be as flexible as possible to meet their specific needs.”
The Child Care Relief Fund will be administered by the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Child Development and Care – with support from the governor’s office and the Michigan Department of Labor and Regulatory Affairs. Beginning April 29, there will be a simple online application for child care providers to use at www.michigan.gov/childcare.
Grants start at $1,500 for home-based providers and $3,000 for child care centers. Additional funds will be awarded based on the size of the provider, whether they are open and serving essential workers, and their quality rating.
In addition to this grant program, Michigan has also made important changes to the Child Development and Care program, commonly called the child care subsidy.
These changes ensure families can access the care they need and providers have some financial certainty. This includes continuing to review and approve applications; increasing the hours school age children can be in care; extending the deadline for re-determinations so families can continue to receive the subsidy during the crisis; and continuing to make subsidy payments based on the number of children enrolled in a program, not the number attending.
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For Immediate Release:
April 29, 2020
Governor Whitmer Announces “Futures for Frontliners,” a G.I. Bill Program for Essential Wor
Program Will Provide Tuition-Free Postsecondary Education Opportunities for Essential Workers; Governor Announces Other Initiatives to Protect Workers and Their Families During the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today announced a series of initiatives to help Michigan workers and their families during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the “Futures for Frontliners” program to provide a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate to essential workers who don’t have a college degree. This includes workers like the ones staffing our hospitals and nursing homes, stocking the shelves at grocery stores, providing child care to critical infrastructure workers, manufa
“The Futures for Frontliners program is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have risked their lives on the front lines of this crisis. This program will ensure tuition-free college opportunities and give these dedicated Michiganders an opportunity to earn a technical certificate, associate degree or even a bachelor’s degree,” Governor Whitmer said. “I want to assure all of our workers we will never forget those of you who stepped up and sacrificed their own health during this crisis. You’re the reason we’re going to get through this.”
The “Futures for Frontliners” program is the first of its kind in the country, and was inspired by the federal government’s support of soldiers returning from World War II by providing educational opportunities. Frontline workers who take advantage of this program will help us reach Governor Whitmer’s goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a technical certificate or college degree from 45% to 60% by 2030. The Governor stated that she looks forward to working on enacting her proposal with the bipartisan legislative coalition that helped pass Reconnect last month, the program to offer adults over 25 without college degrees tuition-free access to community college.
Governor Whitmer also announced that she is expanding the state’s Workshare Program to allow employers to reduce employee hours to receive weekly unemployment insurance (UI) benefits as well as the additional $600 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) weekly benefit. Both benefits will be funded through federal dollars. Through July, the program can act as supplemental pay for critical infrastructure workers by allowing them to collect the extra $600 per week.
Governor Whitmer also called on leaders in Congress to support Sen. Gary Peters’ Heroes Fund to provide hazard pay for frontline workers putting their lives on the line to ensure access to life-saving care, food, and other critical services during the pandemic. It is estimated that more than three million of these essential workers are currently on the job in Michigan. Supported by Sens. Stabenow and Peters, the Heroes Fund proposal would provide these workers with an additional $13 per hour, up to $25,000, with an additional potential recruitment incentive of up to $15,000 for essential medical workers.
“No Michigander should have to worry about how to feed their family or pay rent during a crisis. And no Michigander should be scared to go to work,” said Governor Whitmer. “From the beginning, my team and I have been working around the clock to solve those problems for working families. And I will continue to fight for our working people long after this crisis is over.”