Happy Fourth of July. This Saturday is about celebrating our nation’s Independence and I hope you celebrate responsibly. The only thing we want to see exploding right now is fireworks, not the number of positive COVID-19 infections.
This year, the most important holiday items won’t be grilling tools — they will be your mask and tape measure, for covering your face and marking your social distance. If you’re going to have people over, have spare masks to share and make sure your seating arrangement has people sitting at least 6 feet apart.
CELEBRATE THE FOURTH OF JULY SAFELY
Warmer weather is calling, but things look a little different this year due to COVID-19. The good news is that there are still plenty of options for staying local and socially distant, while enjoying your favorite outdoor spaces over the Fourth of July.
Please do your part to protect yourselves and others while enjoying the celebrations this weekend:
Be mindful of beach and boating safety warnings
Record-high water levels are causing increased river flows, submerged docks and piers, swimming and boating hazards and other concerns. Learn more about the effects of high water and how to stay safe at Michigan.gov/HighWaterSafety.
The Great Lakes are large, powerful bodies of water that demand respect and caution from boaters, swimmers and paddlers. Have a great time in the Great Lakes, but visit Michigan.gov/BeachSafety for safety tips before heading out.
Do your part to prevent wildfires
Dry weather means a higher risk of accidentally starting a wildfire. Never launch fireworks toward forests or fields because you could start a fire if they land in dry grass or leaves. Dispose of used sparklers in a bucket of water.
Burn only wood in your campfire to avoid toxic fumes. When it’s time to put out the fire, thoroughly douse it with water, stir the ashes and douse again. Get more fire prevention tips and, if you plan to burn yard debris at home, get permission first at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit.
Map your next fishing, hiking or boating adventure
Looking for something local or with more space to spread out? Check out Michigan.gov/YourLocalOutdoors — a “one-stop shopping” map where you can enter your address and find fishing, boating, and trails nearby. You also can look at your city, county or local convention and visitor’s bureau websites for close-to-home options.
Things to know before you go
HELP INCREASE DETROIT’S CENSUS RESPONSE
Mayor Mike Duggan is awarding gift cards to Detroit neighborhood groups that increase their census response rate the most from 2010. Groups must be neighborhood-based organizations in Detroit (with defined boundaries) and be willing to conduct two Census-related activities by July 31.
Awards will be given to the top 20 neighborhood groups with the highest response increase in their selected Census tract. Census officials also will award gift cards to groups not in the top 20, but that finish in the top five in their districts.
Groups can identify one Census tract (but no more than 2 tracts) by going to the Explore Map on the City’s Census page. Interested organizations must complete the Detroit Census Neighborhood Competition form by July 3, 2020.
MI SAFE SCHOOLS ROADMAP ANNOUNCED
On Tuesday, June 30, Governor Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, a comprehensive document to help districts create local plans for in-person learning in the fall, and signed Executive Order 2020-142, which provides a structure to support all schools in Michigan as they plan for a return of PreK-12 education.
While the executive order requires the implementation of the plan, the roadmap offers guidelines as to the types of safety protocols required or recommended at each phase. These include guidance on the use of personal protective equipment, good hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting efforts, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics and more. It also addresses how schools can offer supports for educator and student mental health in the wake of the pandemic.
The governor will continue to use the MI Safe Start Plan as the highest-level governing framework for determining if, and when, it is safe to resume in-person instruction.
BIPARTISAN BUDGET AGREEMENT REACHED
On Monday, June 29, Governor Whitmer announced that a budget agreement was reached with House and Senate Republican leadership to resolve the $2.2 billion shortfall in the current 2019-20 fiscal year. The agreement includes adjustments to the fiscal year 2020 budget using $950 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars. The budget agreement also includes modest reductions in current year funding but also provides CARES Act funding for Michigan schools and educators, universities and community colleges, and local governments to address the significant COVID-19 costs they’re facing.
The other components of the deal include the withdrawal of $350 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund; $490 million in savings through a state hiring freeze, layoffs of state employees and “discretionary spending freezes” as well as other reductions; a $256 million reduction to K-12 schools, a $200 million reduction to universities and community colleges; a $97 million reduction to local governments; $475 million in public safety costs now eligible for federal coronavirus relief funds and $340 million in continued enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds, allowing for a reduction in General Fund that had been appropriated for COVID-19 response costs.
All these moves total $2.2 billion.
The use of $950 million in federal coronavirus relief funds is designed to offset the cuts in state spending to K-12 schools, universities, community colleges and local governments. K-12 schools will receive $512 million of those funds with $53 million additionally allocated for hazard pay to teachers. Then there would be $200 million allocated to universities and community colleges plus $150 million to local governments, which would be in addition to the $300 million appropriated for public health and safety costs and first responder hazard pay in Senate Bill 690.
>> Learn more about the Budget Agreement (PDF file)
WHITMER PROPOSES ADDITIONAL POLICE REFORMS FOR MICHIGAN
On Monday, June 29, Governor Whitmer proposed additional police reform policies to help strengthen police-community relations and ensure that all Michiganders are treated with dignity and respect under the law. The four-pronged plan, which was developed in partnership with community leaders and law enforcement organizations will make significant reforms in policy, personnel, and prevention and accountability to address racial disparities in how law enforcement is applied toward communities of color.
Changes to law enforcement to combat police brutality include a ban on chokeholds or actions that block a person’s windpipe, limiting no-knock warrants, and requiring “duty to intervene” policies when officers observe colleagues engaging in improper tactics and more.
The governor said she supports classifying false, racially motivated 911 calls as hate crimes, as well as legislation to require in-service training for all police to maintain their license and authorizing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) to audit law enforcement agencies that do not comply with reporting, and establish penalties for agencies failing to report. Another bill Gov. Whitmer said she supports would require independent investigations of all shootings and use of force by police that kill unarmed civilians.
Over the last several weeks, Gov. Whitmer added four seats to MCOLES — including the Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights — to bring more community voices to the table as the commission considers police reforms. MCOLES has also been requested to provide guidance to law enforcement agencies on continuing education that will help officers keep up with the ever-changing landscape of new laws and issues facing the community, including diversity and implicit bias training.
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