Rep. Bronna Kahle today voted in favor of a plan that would refund fines unfairly charged to Michigan small business owners because of state emergency orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The House-approved legislation would force the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration to refund fines that were based on orders later found to be unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court. The measure also would prevent MIOSHA from issuing fines on a first offense if the employer takes corrective action.
“Lenawee County is full of small family businesses working night and day to survive the unprecedented financial challenges of this pandemic,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “Rather than work as a partner to promote the shared goal of health and safety, MIOSHA too often chose punishment as its course of action — issuing fines or threatening to shut down workplaces that already were hanging on by a thread. It made a tremendously difficult year even more difficult for business owners and the hard-working people they employ – cooks and cashiers, servers and gas station attendants, and countless others. This legislation begins to right that wrong and brings some common sense to the MIOSHA process.”
Kahle noted that fines can and should stay in place for truly bad actors who willfully and repeatedly violate emergency health and safety orders.
“Those who should be punished for violating COVID orders will be punished,” Kahle said. “But the vast majority of businesses in our community simply don’t fall into that category. They are trying to protect employees and customers as they reopen safely and sensibly.”
House Bill 4501 advances to the Senate for further consideration.
State Rep. Bronna Kahle, of Adrian, today joined the majority of her legislative colleagues in approving the Unlock Michigan citizens’ initiative, repealing the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act that Gov. Whitmer used to declare an extended state of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.