Archive for May, 2021

Counties can earn, keep interest on ARP funds, Treasury says during video call

Officials from the U.S. Treasury and the White House gave more context to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) spending rules during a brief video call on Tuesday.

Among the key questions addressed during the 30-minute session:

  1. Will U.S. Treasury provide “pre-clearance” of a county’s plans to spend its ARP direct investment funds?

There is no preclearance process for programs from Treasury. It will not give entities clearance on programs prior to launching them. It is up to the entity to determine if the program is allowed or not under the guidance provided by Treasury.

  1. Can you put your ARP direct investment funds in interest-bearing accounts? If so, what uses are allowed for the interest earned?

Yes, a county can put the funds in interest-bearing accounts. The county gets to keep the interest earned and can use it for broader purposes.

  1. Is there a deadline to apply for the ARP funds?

No, there is no deadline to apply. MAC encourages any county that has not applied through the portal to do so as soon as possible.

  1. At what level can counties report on payroll support for public safety employees?

The Interim Final Rule does allow for a general allowance for operating units and departments, not just at the individual employee level. It also allows a portion of the time, not necessarily 100 percent. It also notes that you do NOT necessarily need to track the timesheets. But you will need to justify the time estimates. Read page 13 of the new NACo analysis on this specific issue.

  1. Can recipients use funds for administrative purposes?

Recipients may use funds to cover the portion of payroll and benefits of employees corresponding to time spent on administrative work necessary due to the COVID–19 public health emergency and its negative economic impacts. This includes, but is not limited to, costs related to disbursing payments of Fiscal Recovery Funds and managing new grant programs established using Fiscal Recovery Funds. (Page 15 of the FAQ sheet.)

At mid-week, MAC received an answer to the question of the time period for cost recovery:

“Counties may use Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to cover costs incurred during the period beginning March 3, 2021, and ending Dec. 31, 2024, with funds expended on such obligations by Dec. 31, 2026. The funds also clarify that premium pay may be provided retroactively for work performed at any time since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, where those workers have yet to be compensated adequately for work previously performed. For a definition on the covered period, please see page 131 of Treasury’s Interim Final Guidance. For more information on premium pay and the associated covered period, see page 50 of the Interim Final Guidance.

Other questions Treasury addressed this week on their FAQ sheet include:

  • May recipients use funds to pay “back to work incentives” (e.g., cash payments for newly employed workers after a certain period of time on the job)?
  • What staff are included in “public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees”? Would this include, for example, 911 operators, morgue staff, medical examiner staff, or EMS staff?
  •  How do I know if a certain type of revenue should be counted for the purpose of computing revenue loss?

NACo Executive Director Matt Chase, who moderated the Tuesday session, urged counties to consult NACo’s new analysis of the initial guidance on spending ARP

Treasury continues to field questions from local officials across the country, so more information will be coming as rules are developed and finalized. Be sure to visit MAC’s Resources Page for the latest on developments on COVID-related aid.

 

MIOSHA ends remote work mandate, allows vaccinated employees to work without masks or social distancing

Michigan workplaces can return to largely normal operations effective immediately, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday morning.

Whitmer, speaking from the headquarters of Steelcase in Grand Rapids, said the effectiveness of vaccines and the changing federal guidelines are allowing the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) to modify its emergency rules to remove mandates on remote work and allow fully vaccinated workers to operate in offices without masks or social distancing. (In response to a question from a county administrator, MAC confirmed with the state that the federal  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA] does not block employers from asking employees about their vaccination status.)

Whitmer added, however, that employers must still maintain a COVID-19 preparedness plan and abide by softened cleaning standards for work areas.

MIOSHA’s emergency rules, which run to October 2021, still require masking and social distancing rules for those residents who have not been fully vaccinated.

As of May 26, 58.1 percent of Michiganians age 16 and up had received at least one vaccine shot.

The announcements follow the governor’s comments last week to put the state on the path of lifting all capacity limits on gatherings around Michigan by July 1.

Also on Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released its revised order on face masks and gatherings to go into effect on June 1.

 

MAC testifies against expansion of binding arbitration

Deena Bosworth

MAC testified in opposition this week to legislation making county correctional officers eligible for binding arbitration in labor disputes.

MAC’s Deena Bosworth, governmental affairs director, told the House Commerce and Tourism Committee that counties opposed House Bill 4639 and HB 4725,  by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland) and Rep. Robert Bezotte (R-Howell) respectively, which seek to expand the benefits of Public Act 312 beyond the police and fire labor bargaining units to correctional officers. (Bosworth’s testimony begins at the 50-minute mark of this video.)

MAC has long opposed any expansion of binding arbitration to other bargaining units due to the cost of the process, the long-term liabilities associated with third party decisions and the unequal treatment such a system provides to those particular bargaining units. The Michigan Public Employment Relations Act provides for bargaining rights without tying the hands of the county in binding arbitration.

The committee took no action on the bills this week.

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

 

Bipartisan legislation aimed at revamping mental health system

A bipartisan package to change the state’s behavioral health system, including a proposal to replace the state’s 10 Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans with a single nonprofit or administrative services organization, will soon receive hearings in the House. Under the effort, led by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Allegan), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) would develop, implement and oversee the core functions of the single services organization.

  • House Bill 4925, by Whiteford, creates the administrative services organization (ASO) to replace the current “department-designated community mental health entity.” It also creates a Behavioral Health Oversight Council within MDHHS.
  • HB 4926, by Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Wayne), expands the use of Medicaid funds for behavioral health care service.
  • HB 4927, by Rep. Phil Green (R-Tuscola), updates terminology in the Public Health Code.
  • HB 4928, by Rep. Sue Allor (R-Cheyboygan), updates terminology in the Liquor Control Code.
  • HB 4929, by Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Wayne), updates terminology in the Social Welfare Act.

The plan preserves the current behavioral health carve-out and does not integrate funding with Medicaid health plans. This approach is quite different than previously proposed integration models in the Senate. MAC is reviewing the bills thoroughly and working with partners at the Community Mental Health Association to understand their viewpoint. Please feel free to share thoughts or concerns with MAC as the review continues.

The bills have been referred to the House Committee on Health Policy, chaired by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Lenawee). The committee hearings on them will begin next week.

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

 

Podcast 83 will resume live episodes on June 7

MAC’s Podcast 83 team continued to field questions about American Rescue Plan funds and the state budget during their live session on May 24.

To see the video of the episode, click here.

The Podcast 83 team will take a break on Monday, May 31 and reconvene on the web on Monday, June 7 to discuss legislative action in Lansing and Washington, D.C.

Links to past episodes can be found on the podcast webpage, while every 2021 video episode is now available on MAC’s YouTube channel.

 

MAC offices to close for holiday

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Monday, May 31 to mark the Memorial Day holiday.

Normal office hours resume on Tuesday, June 1 at 8 a.m.

 

MAC still needs your voice on 4-year terms

While legislation to enact four-year terms for county commissioners awaits action on the Senate floor, MAC again asks members to add their individual and collective voices to the campaign.

Senate Bill 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland) would bring four-year terms to Michigan in the 2024 presidential election cycle. Enactment of these bills would end Michigan’s status as one of just five states with two-year terms on all commissioners.

The bills are now on the Senate floor.

MAC continues to encourage commissioners to add their voices to the four-year term effort. As of Friday morning, 73 county leaders had responded. Please add your voice to this effort today by clicking here.

MAC also requests that counties adopt official resolutions of support for the legislation. To download a template for this purpose, click here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

As of Thursday, the following counties had advised MAC of passage of such resolutions: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Cheboygan, Clinton, Crawford, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Huron, Ionia, Isabella, Lenawee, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

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

 

SE Michigan counties rack up NACo Achievement Awards

Five Michigan counties garnered awards from the National Association of Counties this month as part of the 2021 Achievement Awards.

Leading the way was Oakland County, with nine citations, including a “Best in Category” for Civic Education/Public Information for its “#Oakland Together COVID-19 Tribute.” The project included crowdsourced story maps for stories and photos of those we have lost to COVID-19 and a Tribute Walk — a half-mile immersive light display that paid homage to those we’ve lost to COVID-19, gave thanks to those who risk their lives to keep us safe and expressed gratitude for those who have helped us through the last year.

Other counties earning recognition were Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw and Jackson. NACo recognized 844 entries from counties and state associations in 28 states.

Civic Education and Public Information

  • Oakland County, #OaklandTogether COVID-19 Tribute (best in category)
  • Oakland County, Digital Coronavirus Response

Community and Economic Development

  • Washtenaw County, Home for Generations: Grandma’s Will is Not Enough
  • Oakland County, ReOpen Kits & Crowdfunding Campaign
  • Wayne County, Wayne County Cares Program

Information Technology

  • Oakland County, CARES ACT Grant Automation
  • Macomb County, COVID-19 Assessment and Tracing
  • Oakland County, Cybersecurity Task Force
  • Oakland County, Health Connect
  • Macomb County, Mobile Workforce
  • Oakland County, Oakland Together Lifeline
  • Oakland County, Public Safety Transparency Dashboard
  • Macomb County, Sheriff Scheduler Application
  • Macomb County, Small Business Grant Applications

Parks and Recreation

  • Oakland County, Holly Oaks ORV Park

Personnel Management, Employment and Training

  • Jackson County, Competency Assessment Committee: A Highway to Organizational Excellence

Transportation

  • Jackson County, McDevitt Avenue Reconstruction: Transforming an Old Runway to a New Roadway

 

Treasury webinar to review state’s fiscal situation

The next webinar in a series co-sponsored by MAC, the Michigan Treasury and other local government groups will be on Tuesday, June 8.

The session, set for 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT, is intended for such local officials as clerks, treasurers, elected officials, finance directors, auditors and accounting staff, among others.

To register, click HERE.

This will be the 12th webinar in the “Updates and Resources for Local Governments” series and will include:

Stay tuned for more for information regarding the 13th and 14th “Updates and Resources for Local Governments” webinars — the “American Rescue Plan Act: Metropolitan Communities and Counties” webinar and the “American Rescue Plan Act: Non-Entitlement Communities” webinar. Dates and times for these two upcoming webinars are yet to be announced.

 

New workplace rules on COVID expected from state on Monday

By July 1, Michigan will have lifted all COVID-19 restrictions on the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week.

On June 1, the outdoor restrictions lift, will indoor capacity limits increase to 50 percent. Whitmer cited ongoing progress in vaccinations against the virus for the latest modifications to the “Vacc to Normal” plan. As of Thursday, 57.1 percent of residents age 16 and up had received at least one dose of vaccine. That represents 4,623,805 people.

These changes did not directly address questions about workplace restrictions – a key issue for counties.

As of Friday, the state’s workplace regulator, MIOSHA, said it “is in the process of reviewing both the emergency rules and draft permanent rules. … Until then, MIOSHA will consider compliance with the MDHHS order as good faith to comply when responding to employee complaints or conducting investigations related to COVID-19.” (emphasis added)

That statement refers to the existing Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) order on gatherings and masks, issued on May 15.

MIOSHA and MDHHS, however, are expected to issue new rules on Monday, May 24 to adapt to what Whitmer announced this week.

The requirement to wear masks indoors for those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine will remain in place through June 30, 2021, noted the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA), which continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 regulatory environment.

 

Budget panel increases state revenue forecast

The state of Michigan will have nearly $3 billion more in its General Fund for fiscal years 2021-23 than was expected just a few months ago, a state budget panel determined in its regular meeting on Friday.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) establishes revenue numbers that legislators and the governor use in building state budgets each year. After economic presentations at the Capitol on Friday, the panel determined:

  • FY21 General Fund will be up $1 billion from the January estimate to a total of $11.3 billion.
  • FY22 General Fund will be up $776 million to a total of $11.7 billion.
  • FY23 General Fund will be up $1.1 billion to a total of $12.3 billion.

The General Fund is the account the state uses to cover county revenue sharing payments each year as well as many other line items appropriated to counties. These revenue estimates are in addition to the federal relief dollars that are flowing into the State.

Now that the CREC has been completed, and the governor and legislative leaders have agreed to sit down to negotiate a budget, the next step is to set mutually agreed upon priorities for the budgets as well as target numbers for each budget chair to meet. MAC will continue to push for revenue sharing back payments and revenue sharing increases for counties during this process. 

For more information on MAC’s budget priorities, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Counties, be sure you are set up with Treasury on ARP funds

The U.S. Department of Treasury recently released documents to guide counties and local governments on using direct investment funds through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). In addition, MAC has been informed that funds are now starting to show up in county accounts, part of the $105 billion that Treasury says it has released so far in ARP funds.

Michigan counties stand to receive about $1.9 billion in such aid.

Treasury has created a main landing page for this effort, noting that relief is intended to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control
  • Replace lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic

It is important to familiarize yourself with the three Treasury documents listed below:

In addition, Michigan House Fiscal Agency has issued its own overview of the American Rescue Plan’s overall provisions.

Finally, as answered in the FAQs, administrative fees are an allowable expense when using the funds. That means counties can use third-party vendors to help with identifying, tracking, reporting or responding to various other needs counties may have. MAC has worked with Livingston County to prequalify four vendors to assist in that process. Once those agreements are finalized, we will be sharing them with members.

 

MAC argues for clear county participation in housing bills

Legislation relating to the goals of the Michigan Housing Coalition, of which MAC is a member, had its first hearing in the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee this week.

Senate Bills 360361 allow employers to claim an income tax credit equal to 50 percent of the total eligible contributions made during the tax year. Eligible contributions would include supporting a local impact housing trust fund or offering employees the option to participate in a qualified employer-assisted housing project that assists employees in securing affordable housing near the workplace.

SB 362 would allow a qualified local governmental unit, by resolution of its legislative body, to establish one or more “attainable housing districts.” Within 28 days of receiving a copy of the resolution establishing a district, the county could reject the establishment of the district by written notification to the qualified local governmental unit.

SB 422 creates the “Residential Facilities Exemption” and would allow a temporary tax abatement on qualified new housing development in districts established by local units of government. Within 28 days of receiving a copy of the resolution, a county could reject the establishment of the district.

MAC supports those four bills.

However, MAC did not support two other bills in the package and is working to ensure counties are included in the process of making property tax exemption decisions and community development decisions under SBs 364 and 432. SB 364 would expand the area in which a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone could be developed. There is currently no county oversight or involvement during the process under the bill as introduced. SB 432 allows a local governments the ability to develop payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) policies and enter into PILOT agreements with developers who are building or rehabbing affordable housing units. There is currently no county oversight or involvement during the process under the bill, as introduced.

MAC explained its analysis on these issues to the chair and committee members via letter this week.

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

 

Podcast 83 continues live sessions on Monday, May 24

MAC’s Podcast 83 team will reconvene on the web on Monday, May 24to discuss legislative action in Lansing and Washington, D.C.

To register for the live event, which starts at 3 p.m., click here.

Links to past episodes can be found on the podcast webpage, while every 2021 video episode is now available on MAC’s YouTube channel.

 

Bills debated on new penalties for bottle fraud

Bipartisan bills on bottle deposits that criminalize bottle deposit fraud were reviewed by the House Regulatory Reform Committee this week.

House Bills 4780-83, by Reps. Mike Mueller (R-Genesee), Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale), Tim Sneller (D-Genesee) and Tyrone Carter (D-Wayne) are designed to crack down on those who bring empties across state lines to collect Michigan’s 10-cent deposit for profit. The bills establish felony charges based on the dollar thresholds of the fraud and increase fines for the violation. 

They also reallocate the first $1 million in unclaimed bottle deposit fund revenue to the Michigan State Police to enforce the newly created law. The remaining money in the fund would be distributed based on current law: 75 percent to the Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust fund for non-petroleum remediation and redevelopment activities and 25 percent to the dealers. Whether or not increased compliance efforts will result in more money in the unclaimed deposit fund to make up for the diversion is unclear at this time.

MAC is following the issue but has not taken a position at this time. 

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

 

MAC studying bills on asbestos oversight

The House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee took testimony this week on a bipartisan package of bills that create a “Public Entity Asbestos Removal Disclosure Act” to enhance abatement inspection requirements, establish a verification process for contractors and create reporting violations for asbestos removal.

House Bills 4766-71, by Reps. Gary Howell (R-Lapeer), Abraham Aiyash (D-Wayne), Scott VanSingel (R-Newaygo) and William Sowerby (D-Macomb), prohibit a public entity from contracting for asbestos abatement with a contractor with a criminal conviction relating to compliance with environmental regulations. 

A recent Auditor General report slammed the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) for lack of oversight of asbestos abatement projects. In response to the lack of resources to comply with their requirements, the bills create an Asbestos Investment Fund, which would be administered by the department. A public entity would be required to submit a $100 fee to EGLE to assist with oversight efforts. A public entity could pass the cost for the notification fee to the asbestos abatement contractor, unless the pass-through would violate the terms of a contract signed before the effective date of the bill.

MAC is working on amendments to the bills before taking a position on the package.

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

 

MAC opposes workers’ comp legislation

A bill to direct workers’ compensation coverage on COVID-19 issues was opposed by MAC in committee this week.

House Bill 4288, by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Genesee), amends the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act to include a first response employee’s injury or illness resulting from contraction of COVID-19 as a personal injury presumed to arise in the course of employment under certain circumstances.

In general, the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act provides compensation to employees who are injured on the job and provides that those benefits are the employee’s sole remedy for the injury. The bill would expand compensatory coverage if a first response employee met one of the following criteria:

  • Is quarantined at the direction of his or her employer due to confirmed or suspected exposure to COVID-19
  • Receives a COVID-19 diagnosis from a physician
  • Receives a presumptive positive COVID-19 test
  • Receives a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis

The Government Operations Committee did not vote on the bill this week, and the chair indicated changes are coming to provide definite timelines for coverage and ensuring a rebuttable presumption. MAC will review changes when available.

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

 

MAC still needs your voice on 4-year terms

While legislation to enact four-year terms for county commissioners awaits action on the Senate floor, MAC again asks members to add their individual and collective voices to the campaign.

Senate Bill 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland) would bring four-year terms to Michigan in the 2024 presidential election cycle. Enactment of these bills would end Michigan’s status as one of just five states with two-year terms on all commissioners.

The bills are now on the Senate floor.

MAC continues to encourage commissioners to add their voices to the four-year term effort. As of Friday morning, 70 county leaders had responded. Please add your voice to this effort today by clicking here.

MAC also requests that counties adopt official resolutions of support for the legislation. To download a template for this purpose, click here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

As of Thursday, the following counties had advised MAC of passage of such resolutions: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Cheboygan, Clinton, Dickinson, Genesee, Emmet, Houghton, Ionia, Isabella, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Newaygo, Ontonagon, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

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

 

Leadership Academy class includes 11 from Michigan

Eleven Michigan county officials and staff members recently completed the NACo Leadership Academy, a 12-week online program that empowers front-line county government employees with fundamental leadership skills. Across the country, 812 county employees participated in the most recent class, which began in January.

Among the 11 were Deena Bosworth, MAC’s governmental affairs director, Wayne County Commissioner Melissa Daub, Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck and Houghton County Administrator Ben Larson.

The rest of the Michigan class was Sheila Peters of Alger, Ted Somers of Alpena, Shawna Walraven of Bay, Sue Buitenhuis of Cheboygan, Karl Hauser of Clare, Timothy Mitchell of Osceola and Scott Miller of Washtenaw.

MAC congratulates all the participants in the program. To learn more about the academy, click here.

 

AG’s Office issues warning on COVID scam calls

Attorney General Dana Nessel is reissuing a consumer alert warning residents about scammers claiming to be from state or local health departments or vaccination clinics, asking for personal information. 

Attorney General Nessel offers tips to avoid becoming a victim. Hang up if they claim to be from a government agency or vaccination clinic and: 

  • request personal information; 
  • make threats; 
  • demand you get vaccinated; or  
  • ask if you are vaccinated or where you received your vaccination.   

The Department of Attorney General provides a library of resources for consumers to review anytime. Attorney General Nessel encourages everyone to review the COVID-19 vaccine scam alert for more information.  

Your connection to consumer protection is just a click or phone call away. Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General’s website, or by calling 877-765-8388.  

 

Collaboration on mental health is focus of June 1 webinar

The second in a series of webinars to underscore the ideas of continuously examining best practices, as well as taking the opportunity to enhance longstanding partnerships between law enforcement, mental health systems and communities throughout Michigan and to recommend strengthening those partnerships, will be held on June 1.

The webinar is free and runs from 10:30 a.m. to noon. It will explore interdisciplinary partnership, collaboration and funding efforts from three innovative Michigan communities (Calhoun, Muskegon & Washtenaw).

To register, go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4814437477097292047.

For information, contact J. Eric Waddell at jericwaddell@thecardinalgroup2.com.

 

Counties, be sure you are set up with Treasury on ARP funds

The U.S. Department of Treasury released a wave of documents Monday to guide counties and local governments on using direct investment funds through the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

Michigan counties stand to receive about $1.9 billion in such aid.

Treasury has created a main landing page for this effort, noting that relief is intended to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control
  • Replace lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic

“The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide substantial flexibility for each government to meet local needs—including support for households, small businesses, impacted industries, essential workers, and the communities hardest hit by the crisis. These funds can also be used to make necessary investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure,” Treasury stated.

Treasury has published an Interim Final Rule that implements the provisions of this program.

In addition, Treasury offers a “quick reference” fact sheet and the Michigan House Fiscal Agency has issued its own overview of the American Rescue Plan’s overall provisions.

 

State budget bills continue their advance in Legislature

The full House and full Senate this week voted on budget bills for fiscal 2022, with appropriations measures passing largely along party lines and with minimal floor changes.

Democratic House members did introduce amendments that would restore the 75 percent of funding withheld from various budgets due to the Republicans’ newly adopted approach of quarterly budgeting, but those amendments failed.

Now, the House budget bills go to the Senate, and the Senate bills go to the House. After the two chambers finish this stage, a joint conference committee will take up points of disagreement and offer up final numbers for final approval.

The Senate budget includes $231,516,700 for county revenue sharing, which would be a 2 percent boost from FY21. Additionally, the Senate proposal retains the requirement that any county with a retirement benefit system that was in an underfunded status must dedicate any county revenue sharing increase to that system.

The House provides for a 1 percent increase on revenue sharing, for $226,529,400 to counties. The funds, however, are tied to a requirement that the county must maintain public safety expenditures at an amount not less than FY21 to qualify for a payment.

MAC had asked legislators to eliminate strings attached to county revenue sharing payments. MAC will renew that request when budget bills reach the joint House-Senate conference committee stage.

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission grants remain recommended at $148.9 million in both chambers; however, the House still moves that line item to the judiciary budget, a change that still raises constitutionality questions involving the separation of powers. Changes to the MIDC Act would have to be made in order to house the commission’s budget under the judiciary.   

In other highlights, there is a $5 million increase to local public health under the Senate plan and $4 million in both the House and Senate to fully fund county veteran service fund grants. Please see previous MAC updates for additional budget information and more specific line items.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) is scheduled for next Friday. The CREC establishes an official economic forecast and projects revenues that appropriators use in the final stage of the budget process.

 

MAC opposes bills to alter property record fees

A bipartisan package of bills aimed at changing the process and fee schedule for accessing and copying records held by county registers of deeds and treasurers was up for testimony this week in the House Commerce and Tourism Committee.

House Bills 4729-32,  by Reps. John Cherry (D-Genesee), Julie Calley (R-Ionia), Mari Manoogian (D-Oakland) and Steve Marino (R-Macomb), were introduced to try to manage the cost of acquiring requested records. The proponents assert they are being overcharged for access to real estate records or even denied access in some cases because they are only asking for partial information.

The bills would limit the amount a county can charge for these fields of information, allow the requesting party to designate the medium by which they receive the information and allow the requesting party to gain information based on particular fields of information if they do not want the entire file.

MAC is working with the other organizations representing county-wide elected officials affected by this legislation and is currently opposed to the package.

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

 

Supplemental spending bill includes millions for county programs

The Michigan House this week passed, 65-42, a $3.3 billion supplemental appropriation bill, with $1 billion to be drawn from the state’s General Fund and $2.3 billion from the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Under the spending bill, $5 million would reimburse county jails for housing offenders at county jails who otherwise would have been transferred to correctional facilities if not for state emergency orders.

About $37.5 million is designated for infrastructure grants to address flooding, erosion and other coastal issues, while $2.5 million goes for planning grants to address severe weather impacts and changing climate effects. Also included is $25 million for PFAS remediation grants, $15 million of which must be allocated to municipal airports and independent airport authorities.

The bill applies $100 million to cover a $23 per Medicaid day increase to nursing facilities that have experienced a 5 percent or greater decline in their average daily census. Additionally, $215 million would go to mental health facilities, including $3 million for new psychiatric beds and emergency department needs through McLaren Northern Michigan.

The bill includes $7.5 million to support public access, through a website, to documents and digital images of documents filed in courts. Another $2.7 million would support the Secondary Road Patrol Program, which provides grants to county sheriff departments for the patrol of secondary roads.

Lastly, $150 million is allocated to the Broadband Expansion Act of Michigan, which provides for grants to private internet service providers to support infrastructure-related and other costs associated with expanding broadband internet service to unserved areas of Michigan.

A full summary of the bill can be found here.

 

MAC still needs your voice on 4-year terms

While legislation to enact four-year terms for county commissioners awaits action on the Senate floor, MAC again asks members to add their individual and collective voices to the campaign.

Senate Bill 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland) would bring four-year terms to Michigan in the 2024 presidential election cycle. Enactment of these bills would end Michigan’s status as one of just five states with two-year terms on all commissioners.

The bills are now on the Senate floor.

MAC continues to encourage commissioners to add their voices to the four-year term effort. As of Friday morning, 68 county leaders had responded. Please add your voice to this effort today by clicking here.

MAC also requests that counties adopt official resolutions of support for the legislation. To download a template for this purpose, click here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

As of Thursday, the following counties had advised MAC of passage of such resolutions: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Cheboygan, Clinton, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Ionia, Isabella, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Newaygo, Ontonagon, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

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

 

MAC asks counties to pass resolutions on revenue sharing shortfalls

Part of MAC’s 2021 legislative agenda is to gain a one-time payment to compensate dozens of Michigan counties that were shorted proper revenue sharing funds prior to 2015.

MAC has done extensive research into county revenue sharing and the impact the County Revenue Sharing Reserve Fund (CRSRF) has had. The research indicates the state has cumulatively shorted 61 counties more than $110 million between 2009 and 2014. We ask that you support an appropriation to restore those funds.

MAC is encouraging counties to add their voices to the one-time payment of the cumulative revenue sharing shortfall by adopting official resolutions of support. Here is a template you can use for this purpose. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

As of Thursday, the following counties had advised MAC of passage of such resolutions: Alpena, Dickinson, Huron, Livingston, Mecosta, Menominee and Wexford.

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

 

Videos from 2021 Legislative Conference are now available

MAC members can view hours of recordings packed with information on key county topics recently presented at the 2021 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

The conference was held virtually due to pandemic restrictions on gatherings in late April.

In addition to recordings, members can review slides presented on topics ranging from how to leverage federal aid to threats to Michigan’s groundwater and screen shots captured during conference events.

MAC plans to return to in-person gatherings in late July with the Regional Summit series of single-day “mini conferences” at four locations around the state. Look for dates, locations and registration information for these events in late May or early June.

And planning is under way for the 2021 Annual Conference, to be held Sept. 26-28 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

For the latest conference information, visit MAC’s conferences page.

 

Podcast 83 resumes live sessions on Monday, May 17

After a one-week hiatus, MAC’s Podcast 83 team returns to the web on Monday, May 17 to discuss legislative action in Lansing and Washington, D.C.

To register for the live event, which starts at 3 p.m., click here.

Links to past episodes can be found on the podcast webpage, while every 2021 video episode is now available on MAC’s YouTube channel.

 

Candidate filing period opens for MAC Board elections in September

At the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference (Sept. 26-28 on Mackinac Island), MAC members will vote on five seats on the MAC Board of Directors. Commissioners wishing to serve on the Board, whether incumbents or new candidates, have until Aug. 26 to file official notice of their intent to run. (The application form is found here.)

Seats representing regions are filled by a vote in regional caucuses at the conference. At-large seats are filled by the candidate that wins a majority of the six regional caucuses.

The MAC Board of Directors is the key body in guiding the legislative and organizational strategies of MAC. Board terms are three years in length and individuals may serve up to three terms.

2021 Board seats

  • Region 1 – 1 seat
  • Region 2 – 1 seat
  • Region 3 – 1 seat
  • Region 5 – 1 seat
  • At-large — 1 seat

Any member wishing to run in the election must download the application form and return it by Aug. 26, 2021, at 5 p.m. to be eligible. Candidates are also encouraged to submit a statement of up to 400 words on why members should support them. These statements will be posted to the MAC website in late August.

If you have any questions about Board duties, please contact Executive Director Stephan W. Currie at 517-372-5374.

 

Many Michiganians are struggling, wellness webinar attendees told

Roughly 75 percent of those who participated in a recent survey in Michigan said they were somewhat or very lonely.

That and other results on the state of “wellness” in Michigan were presented and discussed during a special MAC webinar on May 11 led by Louis Alloro of The Wellbeing Lab.

This spring, researchers at The Wellbeing Lab headed out into Michigan to measure the well-being of 1,500 people representative of the state. The survey revealed that while 13 percent reported they are really struggling, 10% are consistently thriving and 41.7% are living well, despite struggles.

MAC members may be interested in measuring their well-being using the PERMAH Wellbeing Survey. Individuals can access for free and communities can benefit from the aggregate data (for a small fee) at www.permahsurvey.com.

Alloro also can advise counties on setting up a well-being coalition as was done in Midland County. Contact him at 917-331-0785 or louis@thewellbeinglab.com for more information.

 

Redistricting Commission continues public hearings for May, June

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) is continuing its first series of public hearings for its work to redraw political lines for the 2022 elections.

The public hearings will run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and are currently set for virtual sessions, though that is subject to change as the pandemic health orders change. Locations and dates are:

  • May 18 – Marquette
  • May 20 – Gaylord
  • May 25 – Midland
  • May 27 – Lansing
  • June 1 – Flint
  • June 3 – Pontiac
  • June 8 – Novi
  • June 10 – Dearborn
  • June 15 & 17 – Detroit
  • June 22 – Port Huron
  • June 24 – Warren
  • June 29 – Muskegon
  • July 1 – Grand Rapids

Please note, the Independent Redistricting Commission will draw district lines for state legislative and federal congressional districts. The lines for county commissioner districts are handled by county Apportionment Boards. For details on the apportionment process, click here or view a recording of a 2021 Legislative Conference workshop on the process.

 

Free course to focus on ‘Dynamics of Addiction’

A May 27 webinar on substance abuse disorders will cover the basics on Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and provide participants with knowledge, skills and strategies to manage SUD-related situations as an emergency responder. Development and funding for this course is courtesy of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The free session will run from 10 a.m. to noon and is part of the “Managing Mental Health Crisis” series that is designed specifically for Michigan law enforcement, public safety and community mental health responders. Such sessions are endorsed by the State of Michigan’s Diversion Council, MCOLES-approved and meet with MCOLES-recommended annual officer trainings.

To register, click here. Seats are limited to 47 participants. Deadline to register is May 26.

For information, contact J. Eric Waddell at jericwaddell@thecardinalgroup2.com.

 

Roughly 75 percent of those who participated in a recent survey in Michigan said they were somewhat or very lonely.

That and other results on the state of “wellness” in Michigan were presented and discussed during a special MAC webinar on May 11 led by Louis Alloro of The Wellbeing Lab.

This spring, researchers at The Wellbeing Lab headed out into Michigan to measure the well-being of 1,500 people representative of the state. The survey revealed that while 13 percent reported they are really struggling, 10% are consistently thriving and 41.7% are living well, despite struggles.

MAC members may be interested in measuring their well-being using the PERMAH Wellbeing Survey. Individuals can access for free and communities can benefit from the aggregate data (for a small fee) at www.permahsurvey.com.

Alloro also can advise counties on setting up a well-being coalition as was done in Midland County. Contact him at 917-331-0785 or louis@thewellbeinglab.com for more information.

At the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference (Sept. 26-28 on Mackinac Island), MAC members will vote on five seats on the MAC Board of Directors. Commissioners wishing to serve on the Board, whether incumbents or new candidates, have until Aug. 26 to file official notice of their intent to run. (The application form is found here.)

Seats representing regions are filled by a vote in regional caucuses at the conference. At-large seats are filled by the candidate that wins a majority of the six regional caucuses.

The MAC Board of Directors is the key body in guiding the legislative and organizational strategies of MAC. Board terms are three years in length and individuals may serve up to three terms.

2021 Board seats

  • Region 1 – 1 seat
  • Region 2 – 1 seat
  • Region 3 – 1 seat
  • Region 5 – 1 seat
  • At-large — 1 seat

Any member wishing to run in the election must download the application form and return it by Aug. 26, 2021, at 5 p.m. to be eligible. Candidates are also encouraged to submit a statement of up to 400 words on why members should support them. These statements will be posted to the MAC website in late August.

If you have any questions about Board duties, please contact Executive Director Stephan W. Currie at 517-372-5374.

  • 2021 Annual Conference Sponsors
  • CoPro Web Ad 2018
  • Enbridge Banner Ad 2018
  • MMRMA Web Banner 2019
  • NACo Live Healthy Ad 960x200px
  • Nationwide Ad For Mac Site