FACT CHECK: Did Michigan House Bill 4729 Contain Language About The Coronavirus In June 2019?

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims Michigan House Bill 4729 contained coronavirus-related language in June 2019.

Verdict: False

The bill did not include any language concerning the new coronavirus until March 2020.

Fact Check:

The Facebook post uses a screen grab of the Vote Smart page for House Bill 4729 to claim that Michigan state lawmakers introduced coronavirus-related legislation in June 2019. The screen grab appears to show the bill being titled “Appropriates Funds for COVID-19 Coronavirus Response” on June 13 and 20, 2019.

But Michigan’s House Bill 4729 didn’t have any language related to the coronavirus in 2019, the bill’s text from that time shows. The bill was introduced by Republican Michigan State Rep. Shane Hernandez on June 13, 2019, passed by the House on June 20, 2019, but never made it to vote in Michigan’s Senate.

It wasn’t until the Senate took up the bill in March of this year that language related to the coronavirus was added. At that time, the Senate substituted the bill for one that allocates $125 million for the state’s coronavirus response, including $50 million to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and $35 million to a designated coronavirus response fund.

That version passed the Senate on March 17, and the House then concurred with the Senate substitute the same day, according to the Michigan Legislature website. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed it into law on March 30.

The claim appears to have stemmed from titles that were briefly displayed on the bill’s Vote Smart page for actions taken in June 2019. (RELATED: Does This Image Show Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Violating Social Distancing Rules For A Beer Tasting?)

“There was a brief period where the title ‘Appropriates Funds for COVID-19 Coronavirus Response’ (which is an original title that we generated based on our selection of the March 17, 2020 vote as a Key Vote) appeared across all stages for this bill, including those for June 13, 2019 and June 20, 2019,” Annie Petersen, director of officials research at Vote Smart, told the Daily Caller in an email. “We then updated the titles for the earlier stages with a new original title that more accurately reflects the contents of the bill at the time of its introduction and initial passage.”

As of press time, Michigan has reported nearly 63,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and some 5,900 confirmed deaths from the disease, according to data on the Michigan government’s website.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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