In brief

Gov. Whitmer declares this Clean Energy Week

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a proclamation declaring September 23-27 Clean Energy Week, this week.

“Across our state, we’re seeing cleaner and readily abundant forms of energy powering homes and businesses,” said Whitmer. “Many Michigan entrepreneurs and small businesses are already leading the way in becoming clean energy leaders. It’s clear that when we prioritize clean energy, we’re investing in Michigan’s economy, our jobs, and public health.” Michigan leads the Midwest in the number of clean energy jobs and is fifth overall in the nation. The clean energy sector is a growing part of the economy and has been a critical driver of economic growth in Michigan in recent years, with more than 122,000 people currently employed in the clean energy and energy efficiency sector. The future of clean energy is emerging. Installed solar capacity has doubled in the last two years alone and installed wind capacity is on pace to increase by nearly 50 percent since 2016. — G.G.

Governor signs bill to mitigate effects of Medicaid work requirements

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 362 into law, this week, which will reduce the harmful impacts of Medicaid work requirements and protect Michiganders’ access to quality health care. “The Healthy Michigan Plan I worked to pass with Governor Snyder was a landmark bipartisan accomplishment, extending coverage to more than 680,000 people, increasing primary care usage, reducing dependence on emergency rooms, and strengthening our economy. But the work requirement legislation that passed last year puts that progress at risk,” said Whitmer. “The changes I signed today will reduce the number of people who must jump hurdles to provide proof of what they are already doing, but there’s more we must do to mitigate their harmful impact. I ask that the legislature work with me to protect coverage for thousands of Michiganders.” Michigan has the most onerous work requirements in the nation. Earlier this year, independent analysis based on Arkansas’ experience suggested that as many as 183,000 people would lose coverage from Michigan’s requirements. Senate Bill 362 will help to lower this number by giving beneficiaries more time to verify compliance with the law and exempting people from reporting workforce engagement if the state can verify compliance through other available data. In a signing statement, the governor called on the legislature to take additional steps to prevent coverage losses by enacting a provision that automatically suspends work requirements if data shows that significant numbers of Michiganders are on track to lose their health care due to the new compliance requirements. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that work requirements cause people to lose coverage and do not increase employment. The loss of health benefits caused by work requirements creates another employment barrier for many people who are trying to work but find it difficult to do so because of a lack of supports and opportunity. — G.G.