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Whitmer vetoes bill to forgive penalties imposed on businesses for violating COVID-19 orders

File photo. State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a bill Friday to forgive some penalties imposed on businesses for violating COVID-19 orders. The governor said the bill would have placed Michigan’s rules in conflict with federal workplace safety rules.

Whitmer wrote in her veto letter the bill would have jeopardized the state’s control over its own workplace safety program – the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. She said that’s because the bill would have brought Michigan out of compliance with the minimum requirements demanded by the federal government.

“When a state fails to maintain the minimum standard, it loses control over enforcement of workplace standards,” she wrote. “That would mean higher penalties, an end to voluntary safety outreach services, and the loss of Michigan stakeholder voices in our occupational health and safety program. I will not allow that to happen.”

The bill would have forgiven first-time violations that were quickly corrected and refunded any fines. The same for any COVID-19 orders that were later struck down in court.

Whitmer and Republicans have battled over the administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, including mask orders and workplace safety rules. But, while Republicans control the Legislature, they don’t have the two-thirds majorities in the House and the Senate to override the veto.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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