State passes new COVID laws

New legislation allows remote government meetings, loosens medical licensing, and eases education hiring.

Michigan residents can expect to see more Zoom meetings for the next three months as state lawmakers extended rules allowing for virtual meetings by government bodies. That was just one of several coronavirus-related bills that passed through the state legislature during its last week of voting for the year.

New rules will also allow medical workers from Canada to work in Michigan, allow retirees and minors to more easily work for school districts, and require insurers to cover prescription refills for longer periods of time.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

A weekday morning email roundup of Kalamazoo stories and events.

Senate Bill 1246 extends rules allowing public meetings to be held virtually until the end of March 2021. Current rules were set to expire at the end of the year.

Senate Bill 1021 allows medical professionals licensed in Canada to work in Michigan as long as they have equivalent education and licensing to those required in Michigan.

Michigan has experienced a shortage of medical workers before the COVID-19 pandemic. Those shortages have been exacerbated by the pandemic leading to longer wait times and lower capacity at Michigan hospitals.

Senate Bill 910 will allow minors to apply for work permits remotely if they want to work for a K-12 school.

That bill combines with House Bill 4694, which allows people who retired from a school district to go back to work without losing out on retirement benefits. Both bills are meant to address understaffing at school districts during the pandemic.

Senate bills 879 and 920 would require insurers to cover 60- to 90-day refills of prescriptions as well as allow pharmacists to give COVID-19 treatments previously only allowed by hospitals. Those bills have passed the State Senate and are scheduled for a vote in the State House this week.

Support local. Donate today to Kalamazoo's only locally owned and independent daily news organization.