LANSING, Michigan (AP) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday vetoed a bill that would ban Michigan’s occupational safety agency from fining employers for first-time violations of COVID-19 rules and demanding refunds if they violated her 2020 executive orders that were later declared unconstitutional.
The Democratic governor said Republican-sponsored legislation will cause the state, which complies with workplace safety rules, to fall below minimum standards required by federal law.
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“That would have disastrous consequences for our state,” she wrote in a letter to lawmakers. She warned that if Michigan lost control of coercion, it would result in higher penalties, an end to voluntary security outreach services and the loss of “stakeholder” input into the occupational safety program.
The bill was approved along party lines by the GOP-controlled Senate last week after gaining some Democratic support in the House earlier.
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The sponsor, Deputy Timmy Beson of Bangor Township of Bay County, said his bill “would give some grace and help to the employers in our state.”
In October 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned an emergency powers law Whitmer used to order coronavirus restrictions such as capacity limits and mask requirements. The state health department has kept many rules intact in the midst of second and third waves of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Whitmer’s administration has since lifted many emergency workplace restrictions, in addition to those aimed at protecting health care workers.
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