Whitmer to pursue paid family leave, 100% clean energy standard



(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed enacting a paid family leave program, a 100% clean energy standard and codifying the Affordable Care Act in her “What’s Next” speech that outlined the fall agenda Wednesday.

The second-term Democratic governor outlined her priorities as state Democrats control the governor’s office, House and Senate in Michigan for the first time in 40 years.

“This fall, let’s pass the Reproductive Health Act and roll back these harmful restrictions. Let’s protect the freedom to make your own decisions without interference from politicians. Let’s get it done,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer called to codify the ACA, including:

Protections for pre-existing conditionsPermitting children to remain on their parent’s insurance until they’re 26.Banning annual or lifetime caps, so you can’t hit a limit on the care you receive.And requiring insurance plans to cover essential services like ambulance services, maternity care, mental health treatment and birth control.

Whitmer backed enacting a 100% clean energy standard but didn’t set a date. Whitmer called to enact the MI Healthy Climate plan that calls for 2 million EVs driving on state roads by 2030, but as of now, the state has 34,380 EVs registered statewide.

To reach that goal, Michigan would have to register 280,803 EVs each year until mid-2030, which would require registering 23,400 EVs every month for seven years.

Whitmer said the state can protect natural resources, produce cheaper energy, bring supply chains home and lower costs for families.

“This means all the energy we produce will be from wind, solar, or other commonsense sources,” Whitmer said. “It means clean air for our kids to breathe and safe water for them to drink. And it means protecting our lakes for generations to come.”

Some Democrats have sponsored bills aiming to reach 100% clean energy by 2035.

“We can achieve 100% clean energy while balancing reliability and affordability,” Whitmer continued. “In fact, we’ve been doing it,” Whitmer continued.

In 2021, renewables provided only 11% of Michigan’s net electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Michigan is currently retiring energy sources that provided more than 60% of electricity generation in 2021, counting coal and other plants.

Whitmer called to authorize the Michigan Public Service Commission to permit clean energy projects and to “incorporate climate and equity into their regulatory decisions.”

Whitmer called for a paid family and medical leave program, saying she raised her first child while working as a lawmaker. However, she didn’t explain how the program would be funded.

“Even with help, raising a child, caring for yourself, and juggling your work is hard,” Whitmer said. “That’s why we need paid family and medical leave. It helps workers be there for their families.”

Whitmer said she provides all state employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave, which nearly 3,500 people have used.

“While many large companies already offer this benefit, small businesses often cannot afford to,” Whitmer said. “Enacting paid leave levels the playing field, helping small businesses attract and retain workers.”

Republican House Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, said the governor’s plan will make life more expensive for Michiganders.

“This year, the Democrat majority has been consumed with an extreme agenda that is making life more expensive in our state, but even more costs on Michiganders are coming next,” said Hall.

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