Capital Rundown: What’s going on in Michigan politics this week

Capital Rundown

LANSING Mich. (WLNS) – Outdoor COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted across the state as case numbers drop and vaccination rates rise.

Rules governing outdoor gatherings have been rolled back to their pre-pandemic status and restaurant capacity has been upped to 50%.

While this is good news for businesses, recovery won’t happen overnight.

“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s not fully there, it’s gonna be a long time to recover,” said Scott Ellis, President of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.

Even as COVID restrictions are relaxing, Michiganders are still facing problems with booking Secretary of State appointments.

Months of closures and exemptions for services like license renewals and vehicle registrations has created a massive backlog in the Secretary of State.

To address the issue, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has teamed up with state lawmakers to back legislation that would use millions of dollars in federal funding to expand hours and staffing at Secretary of State offices.

“This would eliminate the backlog and free up advanced and next day appointments for anyone who wants them,” said Benson.

If approved, the bills would create 500,000 appointments from now until September.

Attorney General Dana Nessel dared top Michigan Republican Mike Shirkey to get vaccinated after he announced he would not receive the shot.

Nessel said that if Shirkey received the vaccine, he would have the opportunity to take a shot at landing her in a dunk tank.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow talked manufacturing with United Autoworkers in Lansing on Tuesday, touting her “Make It In America” plan. She specifically discussed how her plan would prevent another part shortage from occurring, such as the current semiconductor shortage.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed a plan to increase wages in Michigan. The plan would pay for the first 3 months of wages for businesses that boost their minimum wage to $15 an hour or above.

The State House debated “vaccine passports” on Wednesday after Republicans introduced legislation that would ban vaccine mandates, even though Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said that her administration has not discussed any such requirement.

Whitmer signed a bill that would allow microbreweries and distilleries to expand their services to more customers. The bill lets owners have permits for on, and off-premise tasting rooms. Whitmer said the bill would support Michigan’s brewing industry.

A bill banning dangerous vaping chemicals, specifically Vitamin E acetate, passed the State House this week. The chemical is common in lotions and vitamins, but proposes a risk if inhaled. Four people in Michigan have already died from vaping-related injuries. The bill received “huge” bipartisan support.

For the first time, a Republican-controlled Michigan State Senate recognized Pride Month.

For more analysis on Michigan politics, check out Capital Correspondent Tim Skubick’s thoughts in the video below.

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