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Michigan lawmakers reinstate freeze on water shutoffs amid pandemic

Michigan lawmakers voted Thursday to prohibit water shutoffs across the state through March 2021, reinstating a pandemic-related moratorium that was upended by a court ruling.

The bill, which received final approval 96-9 in the Republican-led House, will be signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Democrat had barred water shutoffs in an order last spring. But the state Supreme Court in October declared unconstitutional a law that was the basis for the governor’s sweeping orders to curb the virus and provide relief such as a freeze on shutoffs.

“Water is a human right and, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is essential to hydration, hygiene and public health,” said the bill sponsor, Democratic Sen. Stephanie Chang of Detroit. “It is my hope that this bill, combined with recent efforts by the city of Detroit, will give residents some peace of mind as we head into the new year and one less thing to worry about during this difficult time.”

Detroit last week announced an extension of shutoff protections through 2022.

The House remained in session Thursday night as negotiations continued with the Whitmer administration over a proposed $100 million relief plan to help small businesses and jobless workers. The GOP-controlled Senate adjourned until Friday.

Read: Whitmer ‘ready to sign’ $100 million stimulus plan for Michigan families, businesses hurt by COVID-19


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