Archive for July, 2021

Supreme Court hands state a win over locals in Headlee case

In a blow to local governments, the Michigan Supreme Court sided with the state in a constitutional argument over what dollars should count toward the state’s mandated share of revenue spent on local governments. The ruling, in the case of Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government v State of Michigan, found that post-Proposal A school funding from the state can be counted toward the state’s minimum Headlee Amendment payment to local governments.

This refers to Section 30 of the Headlee Amendment adopted by the voters in 1978:

“Section 30 provides that the proportion of state spending devoted to local governments shall not be less than the proportion in effect in FY 1978-79, the year in which the Headlee amendment passed,” explains this 2017 report from Public Sector Consultants. “That year, local aid as a share of state spending was 41.6 percent; some years later, in the aftermath of a suit brought by Oakland County, the local share was recalculated and set at 48.97 percent.”

Plaintiffs in the case had argued the state has miscalculated the payments owed by including the amount it pays school districts, which were primarily locally funded prior to Proposal A. This shift to state payments altered the formula and therefore lessened the required payments to local governments. However, the court rejected that argument.

The decision did leave one small portion of the case still open: the amount of money that is sent to public school academies. This issue has been sent back to the Michigan Court of Appeals for consideration.

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

 

U.S. Senate votes to consider $1 trillion infrastructure plan

A $1 trillion federal infrastructure proposal cleared a key procedural hurdle on Capitol Hill this week when the U.S. Senate voted to begin formal consideration of the issue.

The 67-32 procedural vote, with 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democratic-aligned senators, occurred after a bipartisan work group hammered out the broad elements of the proposal, including:

  • $110 billion for roads and bridges (the $40 billion for bridges is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system, reports the Associated Press)
  • $39 billion for public transit
  • $66 billion for passenger and freight rail
  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations
  • $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids
  • $17 billion for ports
  • $25 billion for airports

Much more work is required in Washington, D.C., before these proposals become reality, as the actual text of a bill has yet to be written, much less approved.

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

 

Regional Summits finish up with stops in Escanaba, Gaylord

The 2021 MAC Regional Summit series conclude this week with large crowds at stops in Escanaba and Gaylord, with county leaders receiving briefings on ARP funding, risk management and more.

In all, nearly 140 county officials attended one of the four summits, one-day events designed to give commissioners and others a quick look at key public policy topics.

Presentation slides will be posted to MAC’s website and shared with members next week, but for those who were not able to attend, you can view video feeds from two of the presentations at Thursday’s Gaylord site:

“We were pleased with the turnout at all four sites, especially in light of the trends on COVID-19,” said MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie. “That’s proof our members are eager to learn more about addressing the challenges they face in their home counties.”

 

Courts office wants input from county leaders

County leaders are encouraged to provide feedback on court operations during the pandemic via a survey from the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO).

Please read the memo requesting your comments and feedback requesting your comments and feedback regarding the report about Lessons Learned from the Pandemic of 2020-2021 and the report about Open Courts, Media, and Privacy.

“We have an opportunity now to make decisions that will shape the judiciary for a generation or more,” explained State Court Administrator Thomas P. Boyd, “and these reports are designed to spur the conversation. Your opinion matters and the time to speak up is now!”

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

 

Jackson County administrator picked for Indigent Defense Commission

Jackson County Deputy Administrator Debra Kubitskey will soon add another county voice to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC), after her nomination by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) was approved by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Kubitskey will serve for a term running from July 22, 2021, to April 1, 2025. Kubitskey holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and an MPA from Eastern Michigan University.

The appointment is not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. Kubitskey’s first MIDC meeting is Aug. 17 at 9 a.m.

Other county leaders on the commission who were nominated by MAC are Margaret McAvoy, Isabella County administrator, and Andrew DeLeeuw, executive assistant to the Washtenaw County administrator.

For more information on indigent defense issues, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

State reviewing $26 billion settlement offer on opioids

A bipartisan group of state attorneys general revealed a $26 billion national settlement this week with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three companies that distributed opioid painkillers. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Michigan could see up to $800 million of the grand total. Nessel has 30 days to review the documents and decide to sign on to the settlement. After that, local units of government will have 150 days to do the same.

Details released at this point are as follows:

Funding overview

  • The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.  
  • Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.   
  • The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.  
  • The substantial majority of the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.  
  • Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the population of the state along with the impact of the crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, and the number of opioids prescribed.  

Injunctive relief overview

Requires Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, through court orders, to: 

  • Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.  
  • Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies. 
  • Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators, when they show certain signs of diversion. 
  • Prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders.  
  • Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders. 
  • Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts. 

Requires Johnson & Johnson, through court orders, to:  

  • Stop selling opioids.   
  • Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.  
  • Not lobby on activities related to opioids.  
  • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project. 

While this has been a long-awaited settlement, there is still much in the process to come. MAC will continue to be a resource for counties as needed regarding this matter. Please reach out to Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org with any questions.

 

Wayne’s Bell, Shiawassee’s Webster picked for juvenile justice group

Alisha Bell of Wayne County and Marlene Webster of Shiawassee County were named this week to the state’s Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced.

In June 2021, Whitmer signed Executive Order 2021-6 creating the Task Force on Juvenile Justice, which will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and “will focus on analyzing our juvenile justice system, while recommending proven practices and strategies for reform grounded in data, research, and fundamental constitutional principles.” 

“Reimagining Michigan’s juvenile justice system will take collaboration, innovation, and information,” said Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, who will serve on the panel and who spoke on juvenile justice issues at MAC’s 2021 Legislative Conference. “We will make Michigan a national leader in providing the support children need to stay out of the criminal justice system and on a path to success.” 

Bell, chair of Wayne’s commission and a board member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) has long been active in criminal justice and juvenile justice issues. In recent years, she has advocated for cash bond reform and initiated the Stepping Up resolution which diverts people with mental illness and substance abuse from jails and into treatment.

“I look forward to working with other task force members to find ways to help young people by creating reforms that will help them find better paths to success,” Bell said in a statement.

Bell and Webster, who will represent counties with fewer than 100,000 residents, will serve terms through July 2023.

For more information on MAC’s juvenile justice positions, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Podcast 83 discusses community-building with foundation leaders

MAC’s Podcast 83 team is taking a summer hiatus from live broadcasts. In the latest of a series of newsmaker interviews for the summer, Podcast 83 hosted Kyle Caldwell of the Council of Michigan Foundations and Diana Sieger of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

MAC’s Steve Currie talked with them about foundation-county opportunities with American Rescue Plan funds.

Click here to view the episode.

Members can view any previous episode of the podcast on the podcast webpage.

 

Regional Summits held in Grand Rapids, Frankenmuth

MAC’s Deena Bosworth discusses legislative issues with attendees at the July 22 summit in Frankenmuth.

About 60 county leaders gathered in two locations this week as MAC resumed in-person events with its 2021 Regional Summit series.

The summits are one-day events designed to give commissioners and others a quick look at key public policy topics. This week’s sessions, in Grand Rapids and Frankenmuth, for example, focused heavily on the effects of COVID-19, both in how counties can best utilize federal aid and protect their work forces as the virus still rages.

“It was good to be able to gather county leaders again, since an important part of these sessions is the opportunity for commissioners from different counties to share concerns and tips with each other,” said Executive Director Stephan Currie.

The 2021 summit series wraps up next week with sessions in Escanaba (July 26) and Gaylord (July 29). You can still register for the July 29 session by sending an email to conference@micounties.org.

Once the summits are complete, presentation slides will be posted to MAC’s website and shared with members.

 

Legislature uses referendum to repeal 1945 law on emergency powers

Acting on a referendum petition from the group Unlock Michigan, the Republican-led Legislature this week completed the repeal of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, the law Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used extensively in 2020 to issue emergency orders on COVID-19.

The Michigan Supreme Court had previously declared the act unconstitutional.

Under Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution, residents can move a referendum petition on an act of the Legislature. The Legislature then has 40 days to act on the petition or the matter goes to the voters. The Senate supported petition’s call for repeal on a party line 20-15 vote, while the House approved it 60-48, with four Democrats voting with Republican majority. Under the referendum process, the governor cannot veto these actions. The House voted for the repeal to take effect immediately, however the Senate did not, so the official repeal of the act will occur 90 days after the Legislature formally adjourns during the current legislative session.

 

Staff picks

MAC urges counties to announce support for ARP match program

MAC is working with the state of Michigan and local government groups on a match program to earmark close to $4 billion in state American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to invest, amplify and leverage the influx of federal funding to local governments.

Michigan will receive more than $10 billion in fiscal recovery aid, with all 83 counties slated to get $1.9 billion in direct ARP funds. Cities and larger townships will receive $1.8 billion and non-entitlement communities (smaller units) will receive approximately $644 million. Michigan has a chance to leverage all levels of government to strategically invest in areas of the greatest need of improvement. By creating multi-sector partnerships, we can accelerate the impact of the one-time ARP funds.

MAC sees great potential in this situation to invest in Michigan’s future in five key areas: water infrastructure and broadband, local capacity and fiscal stability, housing and community development, comprehensive economic development, and public health and safety.

MAC asks counties to add their voices to this effort by passing resolutions of support. Please see a sample resolution here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

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

 

Spending bill includes money for Secondary Road Patrol

The Michigan Senate this week adopted a supplemental spending bill to spend $385 million for the current budget year, which runs through Sept. 30.

Senate Bill 27, by Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), includes $100 million of federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Relief funds to provide a $23 per Medicaid day increase “in reimbursement to skilled nursing facilities that have experienced a 5.0% or greater facility average daily census decline during the first three calendar quarters of 2021 as compared to the average daily census in each facility’s 2019 Medicaid cost report.”

The bill, now on its way to the governor, also includes $2.7 million to support Secondary Road Patrol and $105 million in federal funding to increase child care provider reimbursement rates for child care centers, group home providers, registered family homes and licensed exempt providers.

Lastly, the measure also draws $10 million from the state’s General Fund for emergency and disaster response to cover costs related to last month’s flooding events.

 

Senate leader files bills to revamp state mental health system

Bills to revamp Michigan’s public mental health system were filed this week by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) which would shift Michigan’s system away from public oversight and shift responsibility for managing public services and supports to private health plans.

Senate Bills 597 and 598, by Shirkey and Sen. John Bizon (R-Calhoun) respectively, introduce “specialty integrated plans (SIPS),” defined as a managed care organization, which the state would contract with to manage services for Medicaid beneficiaries. The bill outlines a phased timeline in which enrollee would transition to the SIPs.

MAC opposes the legislation as introduced. MAC has long held the position that the public mental health system should have adequate state funding and local control and oversight by our counties to ensure quality and accessible services for all residents.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Health and Human Services, led by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Allegan), has its own unique proposal related to community mental health system redesign. Please see the May 28 Legislative Update for details on the House plan.

MAC will work with the Legislature and stakeholders to ensure county voices are heard throughout the process.

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

 

State Rep. Calley discusses budget work, 4-year terms with Podcast 83

MAC’s Podcast 83 team is taking a summer hiatus from live broadcasts. In the latest of a series of newsmaker interviews for the summer, Podcast 83 hosts Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia).

In this episode, MAC’s Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit-Corrion talk with Calley about work on the fiscal 2022 state budget, the prospects for legislation allowing 4-year terms for county commissioners and much more.

Click here to view the episode.

Members can view any previous episode of the podcast on the podcast webpage.

 

MAC officers lead state delegation to NACo gathering

A delegation of Michigan commissioners led by MAC President Veronica Klinefelt of Macomb County and First Vice President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County attended the 2021 NACo Annual Conference July 9-12 near Washington, D.C.

Michigan members joined colleagues in voting on National Association of Counties policy platforms and in various committee meetings and policy briefings. More than 1,700 county leaders attended NACo’s first major in-person gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.

During the conference, NACo also announced committee leadership appointments for the 2021-22 year. Michigan commissioners selected are:

  • Stan Ponstein, Kent, vice chair, Arts and Culture Commission; vice chair, Land Management Subcommittee of Public Lands Steering Committee.
  • William Miller, Oakland vice chair, Community, Economic and Workforce Development Steering Committee
  • Monica Sparks, Kent, vice chair, Membership Standing Committee; vice chair, Behavioral Health Subcommittee of Health Steering Committee
  • Bronwyn Asplund, Clare, vice chair, Aging Subcommittee of Human Services and Education Steering Committee

For more information on NACo committees, click here.

 

Marquette’s Corkin honored by colleagues

Gerry Corkin, who has served more than 30 years as the chair of the Marquette County Board of Commissioners, was honored in June with the naming of street. Gerald Corkin Drive will provide access to the local airport and the SEI Facility, among other locations.

Corkin, who served on the MAC Board of Directors in the ’00s, first joined the Marquette board in 1985 and has been a diligent supporter of MAC’s policy work and fixture at MAC conferences and events.

Congratulations to Commissioner Corkin!

 

State seeks input on treating opioid use disorder

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has launched a survey on buprenorphine prescribing practices, barriers and facilitators for the treatment of opioid use disorder. MDHHS sent a survey invitation email to all X-waivered providers in Michigan. This email includes a link to the survey along with a unique identifier code that must be entered at the beginning of the survey.

The survey can be completed in 25 minutes or less. Upon completion, you will have the option to receive a $20 gift certificate or donate $20 to a charitable organization. Your participation in this survey will be instrumental to informing revisions to the state’s Substance Use Disorder Service Program administrative rules.

You can access the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MDHHS-Xwaiver

For additional information, please visit this survey overview webpage. If you have any questions about the survey or did not receive a survey invitation email, please email Valencia Lyle, the survey lead, at lylev@michigan.gov.

 

Legislature leaves unsettled FY22 budget as summer begins

The Michigan House and Senate came together on a small piece of the budget this week — unfortunately not one that includes revenue sharing payments for counties or an additional $110 million for nursing facilities. All that the Senate and House could agree on prior to a July 1 deadline for delivering an FY22 state budget, was a bipartisan deal to close per pupil foundational allowance gap so each school will see a $8,700 per pupil base amount.

That leaves the bulk of the FY22 budget bills for all state departments and agencies, higher education and community colleges still to come. Still to be addressed are billions in federal coronavirus relief dollars for the current and upcoming fiscal years, as legislators head back to their districts, with only a handful of legislative session days scheduled between now and Labor Day.

The School Aid Fund budget cleared the Senate 33-1 and the House 106-3. The governor commended the Legislature on this action.

Due to the delay on the rest of the budget agreements, the Legislature formally missed the new statutory deadline to present a budget to the governor on or before that date; however, there is no real penalty in the statute for missing it. That means the traditional deadline is in play, which is on the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) told the Gongwer News Service that work to complete the new fiscal year budget will likely take until late summer and he plans on the Senate returning to the Capitol in August.

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

 

Registration is now open for 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) and Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC) are pleased to welcome attendees back to in-person events for the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference held on Mackinac Island from Sept. 26-28. The event will provide attendees with trending policy briefings, networking with colleagues and specialized breakouts designed for MCMCFC members to earn Continuing Education credits.

The Annual Conference will feature:

  • Three plenary sessions with state newsmakers and reports on MAC activities (speakers will be announced soon)
  • 12 breakout sessions for MAC members and 4 workshops for MCMCFC members
  • A Welcome Reception on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 26, sponsored by CoProPlus
  • A lavish President’s Banquet on the night of Monday, Sept. 27
  • Plenty of free time in the afternoons for attendees to enjoy Mackinac Island or just relax

To begin your registration, for more details on events and for updates on conference speakers and presentations, please visit the event page on MAC’s website.

If you register by Aug. 18, the member rate for the entire conference is just $375. The member rate is open to all county commissioners, administrators, countywide elected officials and county employees of MAC member counties, plus employees and board members of MCMCFC facilities.

MAC and MCMCFC also secured highly competitive room rates that begin at $205 per person for double occupancy. All room reservations must be made via Grand Hotel’s digital portal found on this page. The room block deadline is Aug. 26.

 

UP legislator files MAC-backed bills for local tourism tax

Two bills were introduced this week to help local communities deal with providing increased public safety measures specific to exponential increases in tourism. Several regions across the state, not just Northern Michigan, are draining their taxpayer public safety funds to take care of large increases in tourism in their areas that require increased police road patrols, search and rescue missions, patrolling of municipal campgrounds, etc.

House Bills 5172-73, by Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette), allows all 83 Michigan counties to put a local excise tax on a ballot for voter approval of a 3 percent local excise tax on transient housing, the proceeds of which can only be used for increased funding for public safety. Transient housing will include hotels, motels and short-term rentals. 

Hotels in the Upper Peninsula are currently being taxed 11 percent, with 5 percent going to the state, 5 percent going to local convention and visitor bureaus, 1 percent going to the UP-wide Convention and Visitor Bureau Fund and nothing going to local communities to help manage tourists.

This issue is one of MAC’s legislative priorities this year. We are working to engage our members and legislators for support. Many counties in Michigan are draining their taxpayer public safety funds because of large increases in tourism to ensure both residents and tourists are safe. Michigan does not allow a local taxing authority, as is found in many other states, so it is necessary for the Legislature to allow Michigan counties to tax transient housing in their communities.

MAC asks counties to add their voices to this effort by passing resolutions of support. Please see a sample resolution here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

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

 

June edition of Michigan Counties now in the mail

County commissioners across the state should know be receiving the June edition of MAC’s bimonthly magazine, Michigan Counties. This edition focuses on federal American Rescue Plan funds and the ongoing threats to county property tax revenues.

Also in the June edition, learn about the considerable resources available to counties for cybersecurity and how Midland County is using map technology to help honor its military veterans.

For those who do not receive a complimentary magazine in the mail, you may enjoy the digital version at this link.

If you are a county commissioner and not receiving Michigan Counties in the mail, contact Derek Melot at melot@micounties.org.

 

Infrastructure is focus of Podcast 83 interview

In the first of a special series of interview episodes for the summer, Podcast 83 welcomes Jessica Jennings of the National Association of Counties to discuss infrastructure spending and federal aid.

The taped episode, released June 28, is available for on-demand viewing at this link.

Jessica Jennings serves as associate legislative director for transportation and infrastructure. In this role, Jessica staffs NACo’s Transportation Policy Steering Committee and works with county officials from across the nation to set organizational priorities and policies for transportation and infrastructure issues that affect local governments.

Next up in the Podcast 83 interview series is Eric Lupher, president of the nonprofit Citizens Research Council of Michigan. His discussion with MAC Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth will be released on July 12.

All video episodes of Podcast 83 in 2021 are now available on MAC’s YouTube channel for on-demand viewing.

 

MAC offices to close for holiday; Legislative Update will skip July 9

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Monday, July 5 to observe the Independence Day holiday. Normal office hours will resume at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6.

Also, MAC’s weekly Legislative Update email will not be published on July 9. It will resume its weekly schedule on July 16.

 

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