Legislator honored for tireless COVID-19 response, Oversight efforts in 2019-20 term
State Rep. Matt Hall, of Marshall, has been named the Michigan House member of the year by Michigan Information & Research Service Inc. (MIRS), a popular Capitol news outlet.
In his first term in the Michigan House, Hall chaired the Oversight Committee and spearheaded the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic – a bipartisan committee of House and Senate members tasked with examining the response of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her administration to COVID-19.
“I have maintained throughout COVID-19’s impact on our state that we must work to protect lives and livelihoods,” Hall said. “The governor has gone around the Legislature – which serves as the people’s voice – to make many unilateral decisions in response to COVID-19 and those decisions have had a wide-ranging impact on people. We heard from many in the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic as we held hearings throughout the last several months. People needed a platform to share how those decisions have affected them, their jobs and families – and our committee worked to provide that.”
MIRS editor Kyle Melinn said of Hall: “COVID-19 was the story of the year. Matt Hall was the face of the Republicans’ response. Nobody held more hearings. They were effective in drawing out issues.”
Those issues included unfulfilled claims and extremely slow response times from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency as Gov. Whitmer’s shutdown orders caused a massive surge in unemployment claims. In addition to many going weeks without needed benefit payments through no fault of their own, fraudulent payments also were a concern – and it was discovered through a third-party report that the agency was chiefly responsible for the uptick in fraud after it disabled fraud detection tools and reassigned fraud investigation personnel.
The Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic also looked at data behind decisions that were being made, the state’s procurement of personal protective equipment, nursing home policy during COVID-19, a contact tracing contract that had been awarded to a firm with ties to the Democrat Party, and other elements of the administration’s response.
Hall’s work while chairing the House Oversight Committee led directly to signed legislation and needed improvements. After reviewing a series of audits into the state’s child welfare system and holding hearings, Hall developed a plan to increase transparency and accountability by requiring the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) to publicly release findings and recommendations related to child abuse or death investigations within 30 days of a case’s closure date and with confidential information redacted. Previously, the public had no way to see findings and know if the system was working as intended. The OCO supported the reform and it was signed into law in October.
Hall also worked to improve the state’s ability to respond to cybersecurity emergencies while shoring up procedural concerns within the Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps (MiC3) program. Recently signed legislation offered by Hall came together following a 2019 performance audit conducted by the Auditor General that revealed volunteer background check and training requirement issues within the program.
Hall, who also served on House committees dedicated to Education, Regulatory Reform and Tax Policy, recently began his second term in the Michigan House.
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