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Michigan reinstates pandemic-related moratorium on water shutoffs

Michigan reinstates pandemic-related moratorium on water shutoffs
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Michigan's state House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to reinstitute the state's moratorium on water service shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Associated Press

The bill, which passed with near-unanimous support in the state legislature, puts in place restrictions barring water shutdowns for late payments through March.

The move comes as the United States continues to see a record numbers of new coronavirus infections and deaths and as weekly jobless claims rose for a second week in a row, according to a report released by the Department of Labor on Thursday. 

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Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerWhitmer encourages investigation into Cuomo's conduct Michigan governor touts J&J vaccine after Detroit mayor turns down doses Sunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate MORE (D) had previously instituted a ban via executive order on water shutoffs earlier this year, but the Michigan Supreme Court found the law upon which the order was based to be unconstitutional in October.

Whitmer is expected to sign the new legislation.

News of the moratorium comes as the state's largest city, Detroit, moved recently to extend a moratorium on water shutoffs through 2022, according to the AP.

“Water is a human right and, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is essential to hydration, hygiene and public health,” the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D), said in a statement to the AP.

“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,” Chang said. 

"Thank you to all the incredible advocates who fought tirelessly for our vulnerable residents to have access to water," she added on Twitter.

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Whitmer's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a statewide stay-at-home order has drawn protests at the state capital, criticism from Republican lawmakers in Michigan and criticism from President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE.

FBI officials said in October that they had foiled a plot to kidnap Whitmer by several men who were linked to a Michigan militia group. One of the men suspected in the plot allegedly excoriated Whitmer for her restrictions on gyms and other public spaces during a Facebook live stream. 

According to the affidavit filed by the FBI, Adam Fox called Whitmer “this tyrant bitch,” adding “I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.”