Updates from Jan. 20 MBA Newsletter

US Supreme Court Decision Brings Relief for Businesses

We have been keeping our members apprised of the Biden administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard, announced last September, which would have required COVID-19 vaccines or regular testing in any workplace setting employing 100+. Following a series of challenges in US Circuit Courts, the issue was taken up by the US Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on January 7th.

On January 13th, the US Supreme Court announced that they would uphold the current stay on the mandate, meaning that it will not go into effect for workplaces with 100+ employees. However, at the same time, the Court upheld the mandate for employees of most healthcare facilities. Federal employees are already subject to the mandate.

The US Supreme Court’s decision brought relief to businesses, which are already grappling with workforce issues and lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the US Supreme Court ruling, Congressman John Moolenaar introduced legislation to effectively de-fund efforts to enforce the mandate, had it gone into effect.

Federal Government Increasing Access to Tests & Masks

Earlier this week, the federal government soft-launched its program to provide potentially one billion, rapid at-home test kids to Americans via https://www.covidtests.gov/. Orders are limited to four per household, and orders are shipped within 7 to 12 days.

Additionally, hundreds of millions of face masks will become available to Americans in early February, through pharmacies and health centers; nearly anywhere you can get tested for COVID. More to come on this when details are announced.

Downtown’s Pedestrian Plaza Becoming a Summer Staple

In response to business limitations prompted by COVID-19, in 2020, the City of Midland enacted a “pedestrian plaza” program for downtown. The program aimed to increase business at retailers and restaurants by utilizing street space for customers to mix and mingle and enjoy special amenities, all while taking advantage of safer, outdoor venues during the all-too-short summer months.

The success of the program prompted a repeat in 2021. Now, the Downtown Development Authority is seeking approval from City Council to enact pedestrian plazas each summer through 2025. The Council is expected to discuss the issue at their regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, January 24th.

In previous years, the MBA has expressed support for the pedestrian plaza in the past, as it aligns well with our legislative priority of supporting robust, ongoing COVID-19 relief and recovery strategies for businesses. We will continue to support pedestrian plazas, going forward.

If you would like to express your support for the pedestrian plazas before Monday’s City Council meeting, you may contact your elected City Councilman. You are encouraged to copy Selina Tisdale (stisdale@midland-mi.org), Community Affairs Director for the City of Midland, on your email.

State Surplus Surprise

The state’s January 14th revenue estimating conference featured another revenue surplus surprise. Michigan may have as much as $5.8 billion over initial estimates, and that doesn’t even take into account the billions of dollars from the federal government from COVID-19 relief plans.

Factors leading to the surplus, and potential plans for spending the money as well as predictions for future revenue, are laid out in this January 14th article from Detroit Free Press.

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