By Bria Brown

(CBS DETROIT) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of bills into law to help those struggling during the pandemic.

The bills include a water shutoff to prevent residents from losing access to water if they fall behind on their payments.

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The governor also signed off on a poverty tax extension to allow those who are eligible to renew their status every three years.

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Lastly, Whitmer approved an amendment to prohibit counties to sell taxed foreclosed properties without compensating the owner.

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Here’s a more detailed look at the bills below:

Senate Bill 241, creating the Water Shutoff Restoration Act, promotes access to clean water and protects Michiganders from the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring that every occupied residence has access to clean running water so that they can regularly hand-wash consistent with CDC guidance. The bill prohibits water shutoffs due to nonpayment and mandates that water services be restored to residences where shutoffs have occurred, in most circumstances, through March 31, 2021. This bill was sponsored by Senator Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit. 

Senate Bill 1246 amends the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to meet electronically and remain in compliance. It also extends current remote attendance provisions to March 31, 2021. Once public bodies are again able to meet in-person, the bill requires compliance with social distancing and cleaning guidelines if they chose to hold in-person meetingsThis bill was sponsored by Senator Lana Theis, R-Brighton. 

Senate Bill 1234 amends the General Property Tax Act to adjust the procedures for obtaining a “poverty exemption” and, in certain cases, allows for extensions of the exemption without the need to reapply. This bill was sponsored by Senator Jim Runestad, R-White Lake. 

Senate Bills 676 and 1137 amend the General Property Tax Act to establish a process for a former property owner to claim surplus proceeds from the sale or transfer of property, in accordance with the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Rafaeli LLC v. Oakland County. These bills were sponsored Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township and Jim Runestad, R-White Lake. 

House Bill 5481 amends Article 26A of the Occupational Code to align with recently enacted federal regulations concerning Appraisal Management Companies. This bill was sponsored by Representative Diana Farrington, R-Utica. 

House Bill 5824 amends the State Equalization Act to allow a one-time extension for equalization of assessment rolls, effectively codifying Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-87. The bill is tied barred with Senate Bill 5825, which has not yet been presented. This bill was sponsored by Representative Jim Ellison, D-Royal Oak.

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