Michigan Governor Signs Executive Order Cutting Red Tape for Motor Carriers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order on April 8, 2020, related to the COVID-19 (or “coronavirus”) pandemic to relax transportation regulations. The Order provides that certain requirements administered by the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) are temporarily suspended and must not be enforced for motor carriers providing “critical assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the declared states of emergency and disaster.” This includes:

  • Requirements related to licensure of motor carriers;
  • Requirements related to decals on vehicles utilized by motor carriers;
  • Requirements related to trip permits for motor carriers; and
  • Any other requirements concerning credentialing under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (“IFTA”).

Essentially, this means motor carriers who are providing “critical assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic” are temporarily exempt from the above requirements. The Executive Order is designed to decrease regulations and proverbial “red tape” so that motor carriers can get critical assistance to those that need it most in the State of Michigan.

The Order defines “critical assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic” as transportation and other relief services that meet immediate needs for any of the following:

  1. Medical supplies or equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, or treatment of COVID-19;
  2. Supplies or equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, or the prevention of community transmission of COVID-19, such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectants;
  3. Food for the emergency restocking of stores;
  4. Equipment, supplies, or persons necessary to establish or manage temporary housing, quarantine, or isolation facilities related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  5. Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; or
  6. Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by COVID-19.

However, the Governor’s Order makes it clear that it does not apply to:

  • Routine commercial deliveries of supplies, equipment, or persons that are not being transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19; or
  • Transportation of mixed loads that include essential supplies, equipment, or persons (as described above) together with supplies, equipment, or persons that are not being transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19.

Therefore, the Order prevents perceived loopholes for motor carriers to haul a limited number of essential supplies while conducting normal business to avoid regulatory oversight. In fact, the Order states that, unless it says otherwise, that the Order does not waive, suspend, or restrict any other state laws or regulations applicable to motor carriers. Therefore, unless a motor carrier falls into one of the narrow exceptions enumerated above, it remains business as usual in terms of complying with DOT regulations.

This Order is effective immediately and continues through May 5, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. After that date and time, DOT regulations will again apply to all motor carriers. Presumably, if the COVID-19 pandemic continues past the ascribed date and time, the Order could be extended by the Governor. The Michigan Legislature recently approved the Governor’s emergency powers through April 30, 2020. Any extension to the Order would have to occur on or before April 30 unless the Michigan Legislature extends the State of Emergency and State of Disaster, thereby extending the Governor’s emergency powers.

Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney continues to monitor the daily changes to Michigan and Federal law during this State of Emergency and Disaster during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains committed to ensuring it provides up-to-date advice to its clients. If you have questions or concerns about the Governor’s recent Order, or others, and how it affects you, please reach out to Shareholder Eric Conn or Associate Thomas Lurie at any time.

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