Local family’s heartbreaking experience inspired legislation
The state Senate today approved state Rep. Bronna Kahle’s plan to protect family farmers from burdensome and unreasonable fines that result from a little-known Michigan law.
Under current law, if a fatality happens on a family farm and the family does not report it to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within eight hours, the family faces a $5,000 fine.
Kahle was alerted about the issue by E.G.A. Inc., a family farm located in Blissfield Township, after owner Keith Eisenmann died in an accident on his own farm in November of 2019.
“While grieving the sudden loss of their beloved family member, the Eisenmann family was penalized for failing to report his death immediately following the tragedy,” Kahle said. “Grieving families shouldn’t be put in a position to think about calling a government agency to report the death of their loved one immediately after the heartbreaking event. I’m pleased to see my colleagues in the Senate supporting our plan today with bi-partisan support.”
Kahle’s legislation would exempt family farm owners from reporting requirements in instances like the Eisenmann’s and would reduce the fine by 95 percent.
Barbara Eisenmann, Keith’s wife, received the massive fine after her husband’s death, along with Keith’s brother, Zell Eisenmann, who co-owned the farm with him. While testifying before the House Agriculture Committee earlier this year, Zell said the fine is a major struggle for their family business.
“We understand it’s important for employees to be protected in the workplace,” Zell said. “However, small family farms and large business corporations should not be compared as equal entities. The total fine that was levied against us exceeded our payroll for the year.”
The Michigan House has voted to advance a plan authored by Rep. Bronna Kahle, R-Adrian, to improve the quality of care for people living in nursing homes by establishing clear and consistent standards for Michigan health care surveyors.