Archive for July, 2020

Whitmer tightens social, entertainment restrictions as caseloads climb

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tightened restrictions on social and entertainment activity in Northern Michigan today in response to rising caseloads of COVID-19 in Michigan.

Beginning July 31, Executive Orders 160 and 161 direct that:

Bars that rely on alcohol sales for 70 percent or more of revenue are closed to indoor service.

Indoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people (in Regions 6 & 8, the limits are 25% of max capacity or 250 people, whichever is smaller).

These changes apply statewide, including to Regions 6 and 8 (the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in the Northern Lower Peninsula), which have been operating with fewer restrictions for several weeks. The changes bring those regions into alignment with rules imposed on other regions in the southern parts of Michigan.

The executive orders consolidate and update a variety of existing executive orders, and it does expand activities in one area: the three casinos in the city of Detroit can reopen, but only to 15 percent of capacity.

Below is a summary of current executive orders on key county functions

Open Meeting Act

  • Virtual sessions allowed (EO 154)
  • Indoor gatherings limited to 10 people (EO 160, except for Regions 6 & 8)
  • In Regions 6 & 8, 25% of max capacity or 250 people, whichever is smaller

Freedom of Information Act

  • Normal operations resumed in June (EO 112)

Courts

  • Normal filing deadlines resumed in June

Nonessential workers

  • Any work capable of being performed remotely must be performed remotely; however, office work may be performed provided work done in conformance with COVID-19 protections provided in EO 161 

 

DHHS: Opioid overdoses surge during COVID-19 pandemic

“Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and emergency departments (EDs) in Michigan have both seen substantial increases in opioid overdoses since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic,” the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a release this week.

According to statistics gathered by MDHHS, EMS responses for opioid overdose increased by 33 percent from April to May of this year. Additionally, EMS responses for opioid overdoses from April through June 2020 were 26 percent higher than the same period in 2019. EMS responses for opioid overdoses increased for all regions and nearly all demographic groups.

The data provides other insights on how the pandemic has impacted the opioid crisis, DHHS noted. Patients were more likely to refuse transport to EDs in April to June compared to the same period in 2019. The percentage of opioid overdose EMS responses that resulted in the patient declining transport to EDs nearly doubled from 7.7 percent April to June 2019 to 14.3 percent April to June 2020.

After an initial drop in April, ED visits for opioid overdoses increased in May and June to pre-pandemic levels despite EDs seeing fewer visits overall in Michigan during the pandemic. The total number of ED visits April to June 2020 declined 38 percent compared with April to June 2019, while the number of opioid overdose ED visits increased by 2 percent. It is too early to determine if opioid overdose deaths have increased following the onset of the pandemic due to the length of time required to finalize death certificates.

Also this week, Judge Patricia Perez Fresard of the Wayne County Circuit Court heard arguments from the defendants’ motion to dismiss the state’s claims against drug distributors, including Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. and Walgreens. 

“Among other defenses raised, defendants denied having a duty to prevent illegal diversion of opioids, and further claims d they are insulated from liability under Michigan’s Product Liability Act.  Contrary to defendants claims, the State argued that defendants do have the duty and responsibility to ensure that these highly addictive medications are not diverted into illegal distribution and further that the Product Liability Act, which provides a defense to a defective product claim when a drug is FDA approved, does not protect defendants from responsibility for their illegal distribution and exacerbation of the opioids epidemic.”

For more information about overdoses and resources for prevention and treatment, visit Michigan.gov/Opioids.

 

One week left to register for the 2020 Virtual Annual Conference

Legendary Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo will address attendees of the 2020 Virtual Annual Conference LIVE on Aug. 20 at 11 a.m.. After his remarks on leadership and team building, the national championship coach will take questions.
 
The live chat will be one of the highlights of the 2020 MAC Virtual Annual Conference, which will include events on days between Aug. 18 and Aug. 27.
 
Other highlights include:
  • Plenary sessions that will feature MAC’s Legislative Update, the semi-annual “State of MAC” report and an address by MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt
  • The Annual Business Meeting, during which members will vote on MAC’s policy platforms for the 2020-21 year
  • Seven policy workshops that will focus heavily on the implications of COVID-19 for counties in the coming months
  • A Virtual Exhibitor Show that will allow attendees to select up to five firms from which to hear 10-minute presentations
The unique nature of this event also brings changes to registration procedures:
  • The conference registration fee is only $50 for members, which includes all county officials
  • Attendees must register by a new deadline prior to the event – Aug. 7
  • MAC will not accept “walk-up” registrations during the conference (this is due to credentialing and election procedures adopted for the conference)
 

Treasury sets Aug. 18 webinar on pension, OPEB planning

On Aug. 18, the Michigan Department of Treasury will host a webinar event to assist local governments in the management and sustainability of their pension and retiree health care (OPEB) systems. This webinar, which will run from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., provides additional resources in response to ever-changing economic conditions.

Topics will include updates from the Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) and the Michigan Association of Public Employees Retirement Systems (MAPERS) on local pension and health care systems, problem solving and management of legacy debt from MSU Extension, University of Michigan, and the Citizens Research Council, and an update regarding reporting data, waiver applications, and the corrective action process for Public Act 202 of 2017 from the Department of Treasury.

Participants can register on the webinar’s registration page. Questions may be submitted during registration or sent to LocalRetirementReporting@michigan.gov by Friday, Aug. 14.

The event will be hosted using Microsoft Teams Live. A link to the webinar will be provided upon registration. Upon registration, instructions on how to use Microsoft Teams will also be provided. A recorded copy of this webinar and the PowerPoint will be made available after the webinar is completed on www.Michigan.gov/CEFD.

Additionally, the Michigan Department of Treasury has developed a webpage with numbered letters, memorandums, webinars, and resources regarding COVID-19 updates for local governments and school districts. This webpage was created to ensure that Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance and is updated frequently with information and resources as they become available. 

 

FY20 budget deal uses federal COVID aid to compensate counties for revenue sharing cuts

Legislative leaders and the Governor’s Office reached final agreement this week on a plan to balance the current FY20 state budget by making large cuts to state spending and backfilling them with federal COVID aid dollars.

Of note for counties is a $97 million cut in revenue sharing from the state, backfilled with $150 million in federal aid that has some restrictions.

So, the August revenue sharing payment will not go out as a revenue sharing payment. Instead, the state will be sending out payments to local governments out of a new $150 million pot of CARES funding. The amount that will be sent to each unit eligible for the August revenue sharing payment will be based on their proportion of the total pot of the $97 million that was cut.

If your county, for example, was getting 2 percent of the $97 million, you will get 2 percent of the $150 million.

MAC has confirmed that this will be a disbursement, but it is assumed at this point that counties will have to issue a report back to the State certifying that the funds were allocated to COVID-19-related expenses. Eligible allocations would include non-reimbursed public health and public safety payroll expenditures, personal protection equipment and facility modifications.

In addition to the revenue sharing changes, the budget bill has also extended the July 17 deadline to apply for the payroll reimbursement program. The deadline to apply for that now will be one week from the time this supplemental budget is enacted. This was done to accommodate those entities that were not originally eligible to apply for the funds, included public safety authorities and district health departments. 

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

MAC forming workgroup to study options on tax foreclosure

Following a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that gutted the system of tax foreclosures that counties have used for years, MAC will be forming a workgroup to study ways to address the consequences of the decision.

In Rafaeli v. Oakland County, the court ruled county treasurers cannot keep excess funds after a foreclosed property is sold and the overdue tax bill is satisfied. The court said such funds, minus the owed taxes, must be refunded to the former homeowner.

“We are disappointed in the decision,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “We are still trying to determine the fiscal impact on our members. And we have concerns about the costs to our members of those properties that we end up selling at a loss, and concerns about the loss of funds used to remove blight from our communities.”

Oakland County had argued in the case that keeping the profits was constitutional because the tax foreclosure law gives delinquent homeowners a type of due process, reported Michigan Radio. Therefore, the county reasoned, counties aren’t taking the homeowners’ rightful property, because the homeowner had already forfeited it.

MAC continues its legal analysis of the ruling and will be reporting back to members when that analysis is complete.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Live talk with Tom Izzo confirmed for Annual Conference

Legendary Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo will address attendees of the 2020 Virtual Annual Conference LIVE on Aug. 20 at 11 a.m., MAC confirmed this week. After his remarks on leadership and team building, the national championship coach will take questions.

The live chat will be one of the highlights of the 2020 MAC Virtual Annual Conference, which will include events on days between Aug. 18 and Aug. 27.

Other highlights include:

  • Plenary sessions that will feature MAC’s Legislative Update, the semi-annual “State of MAC” report and an address by MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt
  • The Annual Business Meeting, during which members will vote on MAC’s policy platforms for the 2020-21 year
  • Seven policy workshops that will focus heavily on the implications of COVID-19 for counties in the coming months
  • A Virtual Exhibitor Show that will allow attendees to select up to five firms from which to hear 10-minute presentations

The unique nature of this event also brings changes to registration procedures:

  • The conference registration fee is only $50 for members, which includes all county officials
  • Attendees must register by a new deadline prior to the event – Aug. 7
  • MAC will not accept “walk-up” registrations during the conference (this is due to credentialing and election procedures adopted for the conference)

Start your registration with our Attendee Packet.

 

Senate committee approves trial court fee authority extension

Extension of the authority of trial courts to levy costs on defendants is one step closer to enactment this week, after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 5488

The bill, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), would extend statutory authority, and maintain the status quo, for Michigan’s trial courts to levy costs to defendants. Currently, that authority expires this October.

The state’s Trial Court Funding Commission said court costs “directly account for as high as $291 million annually in support (most of the 26.2 percent generated). Additionally, approximately $127 million of the annual funds transferred from the State originate from court assessments at sentencing. When totaled, Michigan trial courts are supported, in significant part, by over $418 million assessed to criminal defendants.”

The Commission also reported “findings from the survey of local funding units show that the total cost of Michigan’s court system (outside of the supreme court and court of appeals) amounts to between $1.14 billion and $1.44 billion.” Of the total amount, the percentage of local court operations expenses covered by state general fund is 2.24 percent. The report calls for a rebalancing of state and local funds and makes recommendations for the Legislature to consider for a stable court funding system.

Without completion of HB 5488, a longer-term stable funding solution cannot be worked out as an assurance that courts will not be in financial crisis is the utmost importance at this most difficult financial time for county governments.

Passage of the extension is a key priority for MAC this year. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill when it returns for session work in early August.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Legislative goals identified for jail reforms

This week, legislative leaders and bill sponsors teed up September priorities to include jail task force recommendations.

The “Smarter on Crime, Better for Communities” campaign focuses on four principal objectives: 

  • Eliminate driver’s license suspension as a penalty for offenses unrelated to dangerous driving
  • Expand the use of arrest alternatives at the system’s forefront, allowing policemen the discretion to issue citations for all misdemeanors and re-identifying some traffic misdemeanors as civil infractions
  • Convert low-level offenses to jail alternatives and eliminate mandates for minimum jail sentences to serve
  • Reduce jail admission for probation and parole violations, which is Michigan’s fifth-most-common reason for incarceration

Senate Bills 1046-51 and House Bills 5844 and 5846-5852 are before the judiciary committees in their respective chambers. MAC will be evaluating each one and partner with other key stakeholders in making policy decisions that conform with MAC platforms.

MAC policy platforms, before the membership this August, were amended to include “continued partnership with the Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration to support smart criminal justice reform and lessening burdens on county jails while maintaining public safety.”

For questions on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Health worker immunity legislation has uncertain fate

Legislation to clarify legal immunity to health workers dealing with COVID-19 cases is headed to the governor after final approval this week by the House and Senate of two bills.

Senate Bill 899 (H-2) clarifies when immunity applies and under specific circumstances.

The immunity will apply during the period from March 10, 2020, to Jan. 1, 2021 and “extend to any death or injury arising out of or resulting from any act or omission by a health care provider or health care facility, including a county medical care facility (MCF) while engaging in one or more of the following activities: 

  • Rendering COVID-19-related health care services to a person with presumed, suspected, or confirmed COVID-19
  • Arranging, scheduling, rescheduling, canceling or postponing the rendering of health care services, including a decision to use telehealth or other remote services instead of an in-person encounter, in reliance on or in compliance with any administrative or governmental agency, division, or department policy, rule, or directive or any executive order or law regarding health care services provided by a health care provider or health care facility
  • Acts, omissions, or decisions resulting from a shortage of necessary resources, including blood products, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals or staffing

However, it is uncertain if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will sign the bill, as she and legislative Democrats have said they believe the protections go too far.

“The governor put in place liability protections for frontline workers when cases were spiking and she’s prepared to do so again if necessary,” said Whitmer aide Tiffany Brown in a MIRS News Service report. “The only obstacle frontline workers face is the legislative majority that refuses to recognize a state of emergency during this once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, casting doubt on these protections.

 “This bill attempts to paper over that failure. Moreover, it’s also just bad policy. Immunity should be available in very limited circumstances; it should not be a permanent feature of any emergency, which will only harm the people receiving care.

 SB 956 (H-3) requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to do the following:

  • By Aug. 15, 2020, conduct an evaluation of the operation, efficacy, clinical outcomes and performance of each COVID-19 regional hub that was implemented and operating during the state response to coronavirus in nursing homes and provide a detailed report on that evaluation to the House and Senate Health Policy committees.
  • By Sept. 1, 2020, in consultation with hospitals located in each of the state’s eight health care regions, develop a plan based on relevant and updated guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), describing a process to ensure that there is at least one dedicated facility available for coronavirus-positive patients in each of the eight health care regions to provide care only for those ineligible for admission at a hospital, nursing home, or adult foster care facility. DHHS would have to submit the plan to the House and Senate Health Policy committees upon its completion.
  • Beginning Sept. 1, 2020, if a hospital determined that a coronavirus-positive person was not eligible for hospital admission and the person was not a nursing home resident, the hospital would have to transfer him or her to a dedicated facility described above or a field hospital or other facility used as a surge capacity for the hospital.
  • Beginning Sept. 1, 2020, a person who had tested positive for coronavirus and who was being moved from another health facility or agency could not be admitted or retained for care in a nursing home unless the person had since recovered from coronavirus.
  • Beginning Sept. 1, 2020, unless a nursing home could provide care to a coronavirus-positive resident in a physically separate building, the nursing home would have to move the resident to a dedicated facility described above or a field hospital or other facility used as a surge capacity for a hospital.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

MDHHS rescheduling, changing format of opioid town halls­­­­­

The Michigan Opioids Task Force and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are rescheduling and changing the format of previously announced local town halls on opioids. These town halls will now be in a virtual format.

The following is the new town hall schedule:

  • Northern Lower Michigan (previously the Gaylord town hall), Wednesday, Sept. 23.
  • Flint and Thumb Region (previously the Flint town hall) Friday, Sept. 25.
  • Upper Peninsula (previously the Escanaba town hall) Thursday, Oct. 8.
  • West Michigan (previously the Grand Rapids town hall) Friday, Nov. 6.
  • Macomb and Oakland counties (previously the Sterling Heights town hall) Thursday, Dec. 3

“During the events, state officials will seek to learn more about how the opioid epidemic has impacted different regions of the state. To ensure information gathered reflects the experience of the local communities, residents are asked to only participate in the virtual town hall for the area in which they reside,” the department said in a statement.

More details on how to participate will be provided at Michigan.gov/opioids closer to the events.

In 2018, Michigan recorded more than 2,000 opioid-related overdose deaths and more than 8,000 Michiganders have lost their lives to this epidemic in the last five years. At the town halls, MDHHS and the Michigan Opioids Task Force will share the 2020 strategy to turn the tide on the crisis, seek feedback from the public and host a Q& A about the crisis response.      

A few key questions will guide the conversation:

  • How has the opioid epidemic affected you, your family or your community?
  • What services, programs or policies would you recommend to help address the crisis?
  • How can the state help combat stigma and change the narrative around opioid use disorder?

For more information about the state’s opioids response and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/opioids.

 

Izzo added to 2020 Virtual Annual Conference line-up

A special address from legendary Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo will be one of the highlights of the 2020 MAC Virtual Annual Conference, which will include events on days between Aug. 18 and Aug. 27.

Izzo will address the President’s Gathering scheduled for Aug. 20 during the virtual event, which replaces MAC’s traditional summer conference shelved due to the public health circumstances imposed by the coronavirus.

Highlights of the event include:

  • Izzo’s remarks on Aug. 20, starting at 11 a.m.
  • Plenary sessions that will feature MAC’s Legislative Update, the semi-annual “State of MAC” report and an address by MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt
  • The Annual Business Meeting, during which members will vote on MAC’s policy platforms for the 2020-21 year
  • Seven policy workshops that will focus heavily on the implications of COVID-19 for counties in the coming months
  • A Virtual Exhibitor Show that will allow attendees to select up to five firms from which to hear 10-minute presentations

The unique nature of this event also brings changes to registration procedures:

  • The conference registration fee is only $50 for members, which includes all county officials
  • Attendees must register by a new deadline prior to the event – Aug. 7
  • MAC will not accept “walk-up” registrations during the conference (this is due to credentialing and election procedures adopted for the conference)

Start your registration with our Attendee Packet.

For questions, send an email to conference@micounties.org.

 

Podcast 83 answers your questions on COVID aid

Millions of dollars are available to counties for reimbursements for public health and safety workers and it’s important to begin filing for aid quickly, MAC Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth said during an episode of Podcast 83 this week.

Bosworth and Executive Director Stephan Currie discussed the aid streams now available under Senate Bill 690, then took questions from viewers of the webinar taped on Monday.

Regarding $100 million in hazard pay for first responders, Bosworth said, “It’s available on a first come, first served basis, so those who apply first are more likely to get the money. … I don’t know how fast it will go.”

On hazard pay, a local unit can receive only a maximum of $5 million, regardless of the amount requested. (FAQ sheet from Treasury on filing for hazard pay.)

On payroll taxes associated with hazard pay, Bosworth said MAC has requested additional guidance on whether state aid will cover those costs to counties.

Bosworth noted that forms and other details can be found on the Michigan Treasury website.

A second sum, $200 million, is to help counties with public health and public safety payrolls. It will have two rounds of payments, with the first applications due today (July 17). (FAQ sheet from Treasury on filing for reimbursements.)

If funds are left from round 1, Treasury will announce a round 2 in August.

“This can cover overtime, normal leave, long-term leave, benefits … you can lump it together and apply for reimbursement,” Bosworth said. If available funds are not sufficient to claims, reimbursements will be prorated.

Podcast 83 is now sponsored by DTE Energy.

For more information on COVID aid issues, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

MAC continues push for trial court fee authority

All during the COVID-19 pandemic, MAC has continued to urge Senate leaders to get House Bill 5488 to the governor’s desk. HB 5488, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), would extend statutory authority for Michigan’s trial courts to levy costs to defendants until Oct. 1, 2022. Currently, that authority expires this October.

The state’s Trial Court Funding Commission said court costs “directly account for as high as $291 million annually in support (most of the 26.2 percent generated). Additionally, approximately $127 million of the annual funds transferred from the State originate from court assessments at sentencing. When totaled, Michigan trial courts are supported, in significant part, by over $418 million assessed to criminal defendants.”

The Commission also reported “findings from the survey of local funding units show that the total cost of Michigan’s court system (outside of the supreme court and court of appeals) amounts to between $1.14 billion and $1.44 billion.” Of the total amount, the percentage of local court operations expenses covered by state general fund is 2.24 percent. The report calls for a rebalancing of state and local funds and makes recommendations for the Legislature to consider for a stable court funding system.

MAC expects movement of the bill when the Senate returns next week and is hopeful it will make its way to the governor’s desk rapidly.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Single candidates featured in MAC Board elections

A single candidate filed in each of the six races for seats on the MAC Board of Directors, with the filing period closing on Thursday.

Board candidates are:

  • Region 1: Joe Bonovetz (Gogebic)
  • Region 2: Richard Schmidt (Manistee)
  • Region 3: Jim Storey (Allegan)
  • Region 4: Bryan Crenshaw (Ingham)
  • Region 5: Veronica Klinefelt (Macomb)
  • At-large: Stan Ponstein (Kent)

While no candidate is opposed, MAC will still hold regional caucuses at the 2020 Annual Conference, as by-laws require an affirmative vote for a candidate to win a board seat. These candidates will serve three-year terms on the MAC Board, which oversees the association.

 

Election security is theme of NACo, MAC webinars

NACo has set a July 23 webinar on “How Counties Can Continue to Address Ransomware to Ensure Safe and Secure Elections.”

Experts gathered by the National Association of Counties will discuss what ransomware is; attack vectors used; how it impacts state, local, tribal, and territorial government entities; and specifically how it can impact election infrastructure. Presenters also will provide a set of recommendations for protecting networks against a ransomware attack, as well as response steps for those affected by ransomware.

The webinar, which runs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., is free. Click here to register.

The NACo event follows up on a MAC-sponsored webinar this week in its Camp Counties series on election cybersecurity. Rita Reynolds, chief technology officer of NACo, outlined a variety of tips and techniques that Michigan counties can use to make their websites and virtual workplaces more resilient. To view the recording of that webinar, click here

For more information on MAC’s Camp Counties series, visit the camp page.

 

MCMCFC leader appointed to COVID task force

Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council Executive Director Renee Beniak has been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to serve on the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force.

The Task Force was created by Whitmer’s Executive Order 135 as an advisory body in the Department of Health and Human Services to inform the state’s response to a potential second wave of COVID-19 in nursing homes. Some of the main responsibilities of the group will be to coordinate state agencies and industry stakeholders, report on best practices and recommend ways to improve data collection.

“The Task Force will produce a recommendation to the governor for an action plan on how to prepare nursing homes for any future wave of COVID-19 cases by August 31, 2020. The Task Force will dissolve no later than two years after the issuance of the executive order unless the governor orders otherwise.”

 

 

Treasury webinar details deadlines, guidance on COVID funds      

Counties confront a July 17 deadline to apply for reimbursements for public safety and public health payroll and benefit expenses for the employees substantially dedicated to responding or mitigating COVID-19 for the months of April and May 2020, Treasury officials told attendees of a webinar on Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Treasury presented information on the application process for counties and other local governments to receive funds appropriated through Senate Bill 690 from the $3 billion Michigan received in federal CARES Act funds. For those that were unable to watch the hour-long webinar, you can view the recording here.

The department also covered the water utility assistance program, the first responder hazard pay program and the $200 million for reimbursement of public safety and public health payroll and benefit costs for April 2020 through July 31, 2020. 

In response to a MAC question, Treasury said facility staff that have been deployed for cleaning, sanitizing or modifying work spaces to protect against the spread of the virus would be considered eligible as part of protecting public health and safety. If not all of the $200 million dedicated for this reimbursement is utilized in the first round of applications due on July 31, then a second round will be announced in August.  Round 2 will cover the April and May expenses not already reimbursed and any of the same expenses incurred during the months of June and July. These funds will be prorated based on the percentage of the total filed claims, so it may not reimburse 100 percent of the expenses submitted. Distribution of the funds for the first round is anticipated to go out by Sept. 18, 2020, and the second round by Nov. 7, 2020. 

As for the $100 million allocated for a $1,000 per first responder hazard pay program, Treasury said the application period is now through Sept. 30, 2020, but is on a first come, first served basis.

Although MAC read the boilerplate language in Senate Bill 690 to indicate that the funds were either payments ahead of expenditure or reimbursement for those that had the funds to give, the department has not made that clear at this point. It was indicted during the webinar that the payments must be made to the first responders by Sept. 30, 2020. However, the checks from the State to the county would go out no later than Nov. 14, 2020. This would not indicate a pre-payment program. A commitment was made by the presenters to look more into this process. Please remember, these funds are first come, first served, so get your applications moving.

MAC will be hosting a webinar its own webinar at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 13 to discuss these issues in more detail. Click here to register.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

July 13 webinar will brief members on COVID aid details

MAC’s Governmental Affairs Team will brief members on the latest developments in federal and state assistance in combating COVID-19 during a webinar on Monday, July 13.

Click here to register. Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible.

The briefing will start at 11 a.m. and will include:

  • Details on funding from Senate Bill 690
  • Details on the FY20 state budget deal, including the impacts on county revenue sharing
  • A review of the guidance from the Michigan Department of Treasury on filing for reimbursement via federal funds out of the CARES Act
  • A general overview of CARES Act dollars being spent in Michigan

For more information, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Registration opens for 2020 Virtual Annual Conference

County officials are encouraged to register now for MAC’s Virtual Annual Conference, which will include events on days between Aug. 18 and Aug. 27.

The virtual event replaces MAC’s traditional summer conference, which was shelved by the MAC Board of Directors due to the public health circumstances imposed by the coronavirus.

Highlights of the event include:

  • Plenary sessions that will feature MAC’s Legislative Update, the semi-annual “State of MAC” report and an address by MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt
  • The Annual Business Meeting, during which members will vote on MAC’s policy platforms for the 2020-21 year
  • At least six policy workshops that will focus heavily on the implications of COVID-19 for counties in the coming months
  • Regional caucuses that will elect members to fill six seats on the MAC Board of Directors
  • A Virtual Exhibitor Show that will allow attendees to select up to five firms from which to hear 10-minute presentations

The unique nature of this event also brings changes to registration procedures:

  • The conference registration fee is only $50 for members, which includes all county officials
  • Attendees must register by a new deadline prior to the event – Aug. 7
  • MAC will not accept “walk-up” registrations during the conference (this is due to credentialing and election procedures adopted for the conference)

For more information, send an email to conference@micounties.org.

 

Summer property tax deferment bills vetoed

Bills that would have allowed individuals and businesses to delay, without penalty, their summer 2020 property tax payments were vetoed by the governor this week. In her veto letter, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cited constitutional reasons and overwhelming opposition from schools and local units of government for her decision.

House Bills 5761 and 5810, by Rep. James Lower (R-Ionia), passed both legislative chambers with bi-partisan support. There is an attempt to advance Senate Bill 943, by Sen. Peter MacGregor (R-Kent), to the governor, with changes to the statutory language that may address her concerns. The bill has passed the Senate and is currently in the House. If an agreement with the administration can be reached, MAC anticipates the bill being passed by the House and sent to the governor the week of July 20, 2020. 

If she immediately signs the bill, however, it will be a very short window in some jurisdictions for qualified taxpayers to submit their applications before the property tax bills are due. 

MAC remains neutral on the legislation until such time as we have greater assurances that the Michigan Treasury Department can and will absorb any of the costs associated with administering the program.

For more information on this issue, please contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Deadline approaching on opioid litigation

MAC members that are part of the national prescription opiate litigation (case 17-md-2804) multi-district litigation against opioid manufactures, distributors and retailers received notice of a proof of claim deadline on July 30.

“The deadline for cities, counties, municipalities, or other local governments to file proofs of claim in the Purdue Bankruptcy Cases is July 30, 2020, at 5 p.m. EDT. Any Negotiating Class member that wishes to file a claim must do so by that date. Negotiating Class counsel will NOT be filing claims for class members. However, we are advised that an Ad Hoc committee of governmental and other contingent litigation claimants has been formed in the Bankruptcy. That ad hoc committee may be sending additional information concerning the claim process.”

More information can be found in the detailed memo and online here

Those counties that have retained the Bernstein and Weitz & Luxenberg team as counsel will be preparing the form and submitting it on the counties’ behalf.  If you have not retained one of those firms, MAC recommends consulting with legal counsel on the filing notice as soon as possible.

 

July 23 webinar will go over federal COVID grants for jails

Learn about options and details for gaining federal help to respond to COVID-19 in your jails during a July 23 digital Town Hall co-hosted by MAC, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.

The free event will run from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will focus on local grants and sub-grants of the federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding. Get your questions answered and hear ideas and guidance from the about using the funds in ways that will pay dividends over time.

Speakers will be:

  • Nancy Becker Bennett, division director, Grants and Community Services Division, Michigan State Police
  • Bridget McCormack, chief justice, Michigan Supreme Court
  • Sheryl Kubiak, dean & professor, School of Social Work, Wayne State University

Click here to register.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

State board seeks input on local finance reporting

The Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act (PA 202 of 2017) requires the Municipal Stability Board to develop best practices, approve of corrective action plans and to monitor those plans. At its June 17, 2020, meeting, the board proposed changes to the Corrective Action Plan Monitoring (CAP): Policies and Procedures document and are seeking public comment.

The proposed revisions are technical changes to the review process timelines outlined in the document. These proposed changes will provide flexibility to the Board in their review of CAP monitoring certifications. These proposed changes allow the board to limit the number of local governments to be reviewed in a month, enabling added focus and support to be given to each local government during their CAP monitoring certification review.

Provide comment on these changes to the board at Treas-MunicipalStabilityBoard@michigan.gov by July 22, 2020.

 

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