Archive for March, 2020

MAC issues committee, conference updates in response to coronavirus

With coronavirus confirmed in Michigan, MAC has announced several steps to respond to the coronavirus situation in the interests of minimizing risk to members and staff alike.

First, we have created a resource page for county leaders in responding to the crisis. This page will be updated regularly.

Second, for members of our policy committees, we are shifting all upcoming meetings to teleconference-only sessions until further notice. Our staff will be in contact with committee members on the details of these sessions. As we already routinely offer a teleconference option to committee meetings, you should see a seamless transition.

Third, we have prepared for the option of MAC staffers to work at home, rather than in our Lansing offices. Each staffer will have a laptop that connects to our file system and phone access will be maintained via cell lines. You will still be able to call our main number, 517-372-5374, and a MAC staffer will answer your call.

We have NOT yet taken this step, but it is important to be ready to do so as events dictate. If we do shift to working at home, all members will be alerted by email.

Fourth, we are consulting with MAC Board leadership and our venues and monitoring advisories from county and state health officials as we continue planning for our 2020 Legislative Conference in Lansing April 15-17. As of this moment, the conference is still set to go forward as scheduled. As in all things, our decisions will be driven by what is in the interest of public health. Gov. Whitmer has ordered a halt to large gatherings until April 5.

We have advised all registered attendees that they may cancel with a full refund.


Legislative approves $312 million in immediate spending

An additional $312.3 million in state spending was passed by the Legislature this week and sent to the governor’s desk for signature.

Senate Bill 151 contains adjustments for FY 2019-20, including:

  • $10 million for coronavirus public health emergency state and local preparedness and response activities
  • $15 million for the Coronavirus Response Fund
  • $5 million for High Water Infrastructure Repair grants
  • $1 million for county fairs, shows and expositions
  • $128,000 for the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council’s IT system
  • $500,000 for court-appointed special advocates
  • $3.2 million for behavioral health system redesign
  • $11.3 million to replace the MiSACWIS (child welfare IT system)
  • $16 million to support Pure Michigan
  • $37 million for 85 Michigan enhancement grants (specific special projects outline here

Muskegon County also was appropriated $2 million for the Muskegon Federally Qualified Health Center.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at


UP Natural Resources Commission bills introduced in House

A package of bills that would give more local control to the Upper Peninsula in how they regulate hunting and fishing has been introduced in the House. House Bills 5592-5594 and Joint Resolution Q would create the Upper Peninsula Natural Resources Commission and grant authority to the commission on decision-making concerning the UP’s vast hunting and fishing landscape.

Joint Resolution Q would alter the state constitution to create the UP Natural Resources Commission and supplant the authority of the Natural Resources Commission for the Upper Peninsula. The current Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) was created by Proposal G of 1996 when it passed overwhelmingly by over a million votes from Michiganders. The intent of the NRC was to “use sound scientific management in making decisions regarding the taking of game” and to set some Department of Natural Resources (DNR) policies and procedures. The Commission consists of seven members who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Michigan Senate.

The commission has come under fire in recent years legislators for the approved ban on deer and elk baiting. Under the current ban the entire lower peninsula and parts of the upper peninsula are disallowed from using baits like corn or other vegetables in order to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). A bill that would’ve overturned the controversial order was vetoed late last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The UP Natural Resources Commission, just like the NRC, would consist of seven members, all of whom must be residents of the UP and all shall be appointed as follows: 1 appointment by each member of the House of Representatives that represent the UP; 2 appointments by the member of the Michigan Senate that represents the UP; and 2 appointments by the governor. The UP NRC would have the authority to make rules regarding the taking of game or sportfish that have any an impact on the UP. This resolution would go to the vote of the people.

The House bills, by Reps. Beau LaFave (R-Dickinson) and Greg Markkanen (R-Houghton) both from the UP, would make necessary changes to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. HB 5592 would grant the new commission the ability to regulate all game, and HB 5593 would grant the commission the ability to regulate all fish. HB 5594 would create the commission statutorily. 

The three bills are tie-barred, which means they must all pass in order for them to go into effect. MAC has not yet taken a position on the bills.

For more information on this issue, contact Michael Ruddock at


MAC launches #ParticipationIsPower campaign on salary data

The Michigan Association of Counties, in partnership with Munetrix, a Michigan firm specializing in government data, has developed a new salary survey database and tool. The first phase of this tool will focus solely on sheriff deputies and their pay and benefits. This tool is designed in response to our members voicing their concern about the increasing cost of salary surveys. This our first step in providing a more robust salary survey tool that covers all departments and will be consistently updated.

“This cloud-based system was developed for ease of use by participating members,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director. “And MAC and Munetrix are committed to providing staff and training support to ensure our members get the maximum value from their participation. Our motto is #ParticipationIsPower.”

Munetrix already has conducted multiple training webinars on how to upload data to the system. If you did not participate in one, you can view a recording of a session below.

Salary Survey Training Webinar

Please check the Munetrix page on the MAC website regularly for additional updates as the Salary Survey is rolled out to members.



Voters give broad approval to county millage requests

Voters showed strong support for county millage requests in elections this week, with 35 of 38 county requests gaining approval in unofficial results tallied by the MIRS News Service in Lansing.

Requests were primarily renewals of existing levies to support everything from public health and veterans services, to public transportation and 911 services.

In Dickinson County voters rejected a public health millage increase but did renew an existing PH levy. Voters in the same county rejected a new levy for conservation districts.

And Saginaw County voters rejected a new levy for MSU Extension.



National news from NACo


MAC is compiling resources for county leaders to use as they craft their response and policies to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. If you have suggestions for this page, please send them directly to


For latest news on ARP funding, visit our ARP Resources Page.


State of Emergency Status

Health information and directives

Resources for managing employees, general operations

Emergency protocols


Court operations

Communicating with your residents

State of Michigan actions

Community resources

National actions

MAC updates

MAC members attend Trump speech, make Capitol Hill visits

Attendees of the 2020 NACo Legislative Conference make sure to get their own photos and video of President Donald Trump’s address to the conference on March 3. (Photo by MAC staffer Meghann Keit)

From hearing President Trump discuss federal cooperation with counties, to fanning out across Capitol Hill to meet with Michigan lawmakers, to attending briefings on coronavirus, mental health policies and more, MAC’s contingent of county commissioners and others were kept busy during the 2020 National Association of Counties Legislative Conference last week.

About 50 county leaders from Michigan joined more than 1,500 county officials from across the nation to attend committee sessions and work on key policy issues.

During the conference, MAC leads county officials on visits to Michigan’s members of Congress on Capitol Hill. This year, MAC groups met with or received briefings from Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Reps. Bill Huizenga, Justin Amash, John Moolenaar, Dan Kildee, Fred Upton, Haley Stevens and Debbie Dingell.

The NACo event each year draws on the local experiences and expertise of commissioners from the 3,069 U.S. counties to craft policy initiatives for Congress and federal regulators. A highlight of this year’s conference was an address by President Donald Trump.

See more photos.

“This was one of our largest contingents to attend NACo Legislative, which helps us in making our case to federal lawmakers on our needs in Michigan,” said Stephan W. Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “And President Trump’s address to the conference is another example of how this administration views the importance of county government.”

House GOP unveils local road funding plan

The Republican majority in the Michigan House introduced legislation this week to phase out the sales tax on gas and replace it with an excise tax dedicated to local roads.

House Bills 5582-88 phase out the sales tax paid at the pump by 2 percentage points per year beginning Oct. 1, 2020, and simultaneously phase in an excise tax at the pump at the same rate. Sixty percent of the approximately $780 million in this annual revenue is slated to be distributed counties and 40 percent to city and village roads. 

This move is consistent with the House Republican priorities for road funding, calling for the all the taxes paid at the pump to go to fund our roads. However, this plan leaves a shortfall in the School Aid Fund (SAF) and in constitutional revenue sharing (CRS) for cities, villages and townships. The plan also calls for earmarking the state’s income tax to backfill the hole created in the SAF due to this shift in taxes, yet that will create a different hole in the state’s General Fund.

How the plan will backfill the loss in CRS is yet to be seen.

The House leadership believes there is enough growth in the coming years and enough budget cuts that can be made to make up for this loss in General Fund. However, MAC remains skeptical of this claim and has not taken a position on the bills.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at


Weapon-related infringement on local control advances in House

A bill to bar local governments from engaging in publicly financed gun buyback programs sped through the House this week, despite opposition from MAC and others over the clear infringement on local control.

House Bill 5479, by Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland), cleared committee and the full House in just two days. It would prohibit a local unit of government, including counties, from using any public resource to implement, administer or operate a program to purchase privately owned firearms, firearm parts or ammunition from private individuals or organizations. MAC opposed the bill as an infringement on local control and county funds. The bill passed committee on a party-line vote without the typical two weeks of testimony and was approved by the House a day later 58-49. The bill was sent to Senate Government Operations, which is known to either pass bills very rapidly or never move them.

Another bill to curtail local control, House Bill 5286, by Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Kent), was heard by the House Judiciary Committee this week, but no action was taken this week. It would create the Michigan Knife Rights Act and prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances relating to knives that are more restrictive than state law. MAC also opposed HB 5286, as counties should have authority to regulate their county-owned buildings.

According to legal advice obtained by MAC, it is not clear whether a county rule or policy banning or regulating the carrying of knives on county property, as opposed to banning or regulating it anywhere in the county (which Counties cannot do anyway), would necessarily be “more restrictive than state law.“

MAC has suggested changes to address this uncertainty as it relates to county-owned property. HB 5286 is expected to get a vote next Tuesday, but it is uncertain that bill leaders will accept MAC’s recommendations.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at



MDHHS: State increasing coronavirus testing

As cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) increase in the United States and internationally, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Bureau of Laboratories has increased its testing supplies to test more than 300 Michiganders for the virus, more than doubling its previous testing capacity.

The MDHHS lab received additional test kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Thursday. The kits are currently undergoing a validation process but should be ready for use by the end of the week.

“We want Michiganders to know that their state laboratory is ready and able to provide testing for COVID-19,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We are currently able to provide same day turnaround for test results.”

The new test kits arrived following news from the CDC that testing criteria had expanded to include any persons, including health care workers, who have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset, or a history of travel to one of the affected geographic areas within 14 days of symptom onset. Affected areas include China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

To date, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan. As of March 4, eight people have been tested for COVID-19 in the state: five by CDC and three by MDHHS.

This is a rapidly evolving situation. For the latest information, visit or


Census estimate: State at risk of missing more than 1 million residents

As much as 10 percent of Michigan’s population are at risk of not being counted in the 2020 Census, says a new report, jeopardizing huge amounts of federal funds for the state.

As the once-a-decade population count gets under way, a coalition of nonprofits, local government associations (including MAC), labor unions, religious groups, business stakeholders and more held a press conference last week to announce the “Be Counted” campaign to promote an accurate count for Michigan.

The press conference highlighted an analysis that found 10 counties (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent, Genesee, Washtenaw, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Ottawa and Saginaw) are at risk of missing by about 1.2 million people in the counts. See the breakdown here. Historically, young people, the homeless, veterans, renters and immigrants are the hardest populations to count and make up the most undercounted segments of society. 

In 2010, the last census, the response rate was only 78 percent; the goal for the 2020 Be Counted campaign is 82 percent, which would mean tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funds flowing into local communities.

MAC strongly urges full participation and support for the U.S. Census efforts across Michigan. Opportunities to fill out a census form will be made online, with door-to-door canvassers, at townhalls across the state and directly in residents’ mailboxes.  

For more information on this issue, contact Michael Ruddock at


USDA offering grants to boost rural economy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office is accepting applications for grants to help strengthen the rural economy.

The grants are available under the Rural Community Development Initiative program for qualified intermediaries to provide assistance to help improve housing and community facilities, and to implement community and economic development projects in rural areas.

Electronic applications must be submitted to by May 13, 2020, at midnight EST. Paper applications must be submitted to the applicant’s USDA Rural Development state office by May 18, 2020, at 4 p.m. local time. Additional information is available on page 12761 of the March 4, 2020, Federal Register

The USDA encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to help improve the quality of life in rural America. Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Key strategies include:

  • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
  • Developing the Rural Economy
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation
  • Supporting a Rural Workforce
  • Improving Quality of Life  

USDA also encourages applications that will support the administration’s goal to combat substance use disorder, including opioid misuse, in high-risk rural communities by strengthening the capacity to address prevention, treatment and/or recovery.

The USDA will be one of nearly 40 entities at the 2020 Legislative Conference Exhibitor Show in April. Have you registered to attend?


National news from NACo


On March 3, MAC led delegations of county commissioners and other leaders on visits to Michigan’s members of Congress on Capitol Hill. MAC delivered a list of federal priorities to congressional offices for 2020

MAC members meet with Congressman Fred Upton in his Capitol Hill office on March 3.

MAC President Veronica Klinefelt (left) and Executive Director Stephan Currie (second from left) talk with Congressman Dan Kildee on Capitol on March 3.

MAC members and staff pose with Congressman John Moolenaar after their discussion on March 3.

MAC President Veronica Klinefelt introduces U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow at a special MAC briefing on March 3.

MAC members pose with Congressman Bill Huizenga in his Washington, D.C., office on March 3.

County leaders pose with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters after he made remarks at a MAC Reception on March 3 in Washington, D.C.

Michigan county leaders pose with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow after she briefed them on March 3 in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.





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