Unemployment Insurance Bills Tied to COVID-19 Protections
The state senate has moved quickly on an NFIB supported bill (SB 886) to deal with Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and employer account charges that arose as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision that declared Governor Whitmer’s Emergency Orders null and void.
As a result of NFIB efforts, the Unemployment Insurance bill was also tie-barred to the Covid-19 liability legislation (HB 6101, HB 6030, HB 6031 and HB 6032) being pushed by NFIB and other groups to protect small business from unfounded liability suits brought by plaintiff’s attorneys. A “tie-bar” means that if the governor vetoes the Covid-19 liability protection bills (as she has indicated she would), then she would effectively also veto the Unemployment Insurance benefit extension bills and hold-harmless provisions for employer UI accounts.
Two of the governor’s Executive Orders dealt with extending Unemployment Insurance benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks and not charging employer Unemployment Insurance accounts for benefits claimed as a result of layoffs related to Covid-19. The Senate legislation would restore both actions as amendments to the existing Unemployment Insurance Act, rather than the governor’s Executive Orders. Restoring the benefit extension to 26 weeks would also keep Michigan in compliance with the federal CARES Act through the December 31 effective date of the federal Act. This would prevent a loss of federal funding that is helping shore up the UI Trust Fund that is solely financed by employer payroll taxes.
Democrats in the Senate tried to tie-bar the unemployment bill to legislation they support that would raise the maximum weekly benefit from $362 to $603 and include a $1,000 grant for those who are waiting too long for their first UI check and other legislation. Their efforts were defeated.
The Senate legislation now heads to the House for further action.