Archive for September, 2021

During regional caucuses held at the Michigan Counties Annual Conference Sept. 26-28, MAC members re-elected four incumbents and selected a new at-large director for the MAC Board of Directors.

Daub

Melissa Daub of Wayne County fills the vacancy created when Kalamazoo Commissioner Julie Rogers was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2020.

“Upon taking office, I immediately became involved with the Michigan Association of Counties to share ideas with my colleagues across the state, as well as the work we’re doing in Wayne County,” said Daub. “Today, I’m proud to be named an at-large member for the MAC Board of Directors and to be continuing my focus on transportation needs in my home county and across the state, as well as tackling the many other shared issues we see at the county level.”

Kuyers

Daub was first elected to the Wayne County Commission in 2018. She represents District 10, which includes Canton Township, Plymouth Township and the City of Plymouth. A proud graduate of Plymouth-Canton High School, Commissioner Daub holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University.

Incumbent board members were returned to the Board from MAC’s Regions 1, 2, 3 and 5.

President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County will be starting his third term on the board from Region 2 (Southwest Michigan).

After taking the oath as president at the Annual Conference Banquet on Sept. 27, Kuyers pledged to “raise up MAC as an example of unity, of bipartisanship, of civility and of common sense” in a time of controversy and high passions. Kuyers is the 113th person to serve as president of MAC, which was first organized in 1898.

Joe Stevens of Dickinson (Region 1 – Upper Peninsula) and Christian Marcus of Antrim (Region 2 – Northwest Michigan) also were elected to third terms. Eileen Kowall of Oakland (Region 5, Southeast Michigan) was elected to her second term and to serve as second vice president of the Board.

Board members can serve a maximum of three 3-year terms.

County revenue sharing increase highlights FY22 budget

Lawmakers and the governor reached a deal on the FY22 budget this week, just days before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. The budget allocates $10.4 billion in General Fund dollars.

The budget includes a 2 percent increase in the base for county revenue sharing, but retained the language requiring the increase in revenue sharing in counties that have been deemed to be in an underfunded status with their pension system to go toward those pension obligations.

Other items of note include:

  • $148.9M in Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Grants, which includes implementation of standard 5
  • $14.5M for PFAS Remediation Grants
  • $13M to fund a Dam Safety Grant Program, with an additional $6M for the Emergency Dam Safety Action Fund
  • $14.3M in High Water Infrastructure Grants
  • $16M in a one-time appropriation to the state 911 fund for NextGen Infrastructure
    • This appropriation allows the Legislature to eliminate a fee increase in House Bill 5026 for postpaid phones and reduce the fee increase for prepaid
  • $29.1M to the Raise the Age Fund, which is to cover cost outside of Child Care Fund eligible expenses for 17-year-olds
  • EMS Medicaid fee schedule would be set at 100 percent of Medicare, which is an increase of $54.3M
  • $51.4M for essential local public health services, with strings attached depending on local health orders: “If a local health officer has an emergency order under section 2453 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.2453, in effect as of October 1, 2021, the funds appropriated in part 1 for essential local public health services are unappropriated. This subsection does not apply if a county board of commissioners passes a nonbinding resolution by a record roll call vote to support any emergency orders the local health officer has in effect on October 1 of the current fiscal year.”

According to news sources, “Language in the budget that would strip local health departments of their state funding if they have an emergency health order in place to protect against COVID-19 without the assent of their county board of commissioners will likely be deemed unenforceable by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.” MAC expects more legal information to be released soon.

In other county-related details:

  • $5.2B transportation budget includes an additional $52.8M for local road agencies for a total to local road agencies of $1.8B.
  • $414.5M gross ($146.1M GF) for a $2.35 per hour direct care worker wage increase.
  • $26.5M gross, ($5M GF) (6 FTEs) to support a two-year implementation for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Demonstration program
  • $5.1M for the second year of a five-year phase-out of the use of Local CMH Local Match funding to support the Medicaid Restricted Mental Health Services line
  • $4.25M to the county veteran service fund, $200,000 of which can be used by the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency to fund administration and technical assistance to counties
  • $2M in one-time money for the secondary road patrol grant program is to compensate for lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing total support to the program at $15M
  • $14.8M in the county jail reimbursement program, and agreement to remove language that bars reimbursement for any county that enacts or enforces any law or ordinance concerning the immigration status of an individual
  • $2M for local conservation district operational support with an additional $1M one-time funding for FY22
  • $45M in Federal funds for Water Infrastructure Improvement Grants for the City of Flint
  • $2.1M increase to fully fund PILT payments
  • $3M increase for the Michigan Infrastructure Council

Of the $6.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds allocated to the state of Michigan, the FY22 budget and supplemental for FY21 utilizes just more than $770 million, including $150 million for the Unemployment Trust Fund. The remaining $5.76 billion will be allocated through a series of supplemental budget bills expected to begin negotiations this fall.

For more information about the budget, please contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org or Meghann Keit-Corrion at Keit@micounties.org.

 

U.S. Treasury provides guidance on Capital Projects Fund

This week, U.S. Treasury released new guidance for the $10 billion Capital Projects Fund that was authorized under the American Rescue Plan (ARP). It is important to note that these are grants for states, which can then be awarded to subrecipients (i.e., counties).

Key points from the guidance include:

  • Provides $10 billion to U.S. Treasury to provide payments to states, territories, freely associated states and tribal governments to carry out critical capital projects directly enabling work, education and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19
  • All funds must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026. Recipients must return to Treasury any grant funds that are not used by the end of the period of performance on Dec. 31, 2026 (Treasury has the authority to provide grant extensions to the period of performance if a recipient requests one).
  • For a Capital Project to be an eligible use of funds, it must meet all of the following three criteria (additional information on eligible projects below):
    • The Capital Project invests in capital assets designed to directly enable work, education, and health monitoring
    • The Capital Project is designed to address a critical need that resulted from or was made apparent or exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency
    • The Capital Project is designed to address a critical need of the community to be served by it

Ineligible projects include:

  • General infrastructure projects, such as highways, bridges, transit systems and ports
  • General construction and improvement of hospitals and traditional schools are not presumed to be eligible projects
  • Neither the Davis-Bacon Act nor Davis-Bacon Act-related provisions requirements apply to projects funded solely with award funds from the Capital Projects Fund. However, similar to the Recovery Fund, recipients may be subject to the requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act, when Capital Projects Fund grant funds are used on a construction project in conjunction with funds from another federal program that requires enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act.

Additional information:

 

MAC voices opposition to mental health bills in Senate

MAC testified in opposition this week to Senate Bills 597-98, by Sens. Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) and John Bizon (R-Calhoun) respectively. The bills would financially integrate physical and mental health through private health plan administration.

MAC’s Meghann Keit-Corrion explained to the Senate Government Operations Committee members that, “MAC members feel strongly that the CMH system and its natural connection to county elected officials provides necessary accountability to quality care and coordination. A financial administrative shift to private health plans would significantly hinder the ability for local partners to provide important community treatment.”

MAC has heard from members who are very concerned with the shifting to private interests, whose priorities could be profit-driven and may not have the shared initiatives or partnerships within the county. Additionally, focus should be turned toward expanding on the true integration model at the service level, such as with Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and Behavioral Health Homes.

During testimony, Keit-Corrion urged legislators to collaborate with counties to focus on solutions addressing critical staffing shortages and the lack of inpatient care. See Keit-Corrion’s full testimony (beginning at 47:10 mark of video).

For questions, please contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Currie participates in Mackinac panel on ARP and equity

MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie discussed how county governments can work with the nonprofit sector to propel an equitable recovery with of American Rescue Plan funds at the 2021 Detroit Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Policy Conference this week.

Currie was invited to the panel addressing for “Opportunities for Transformative Partnerships to Advance Equitable Recovery” on Wednesday. The session explored the challenges and opportunities this influx of federal funding presents and how collaborative partnerships are critical to effectively leveraging federal funding to best serve communities.

During the panel, Currie also discussed MAC’s engagement with the Council of Michigan Foundations and the state’s community foundations for presentations in MAC’s 2021 Regional Summit series over the summer.

MAC also hosted CMF’s Kyle Caldwell on Podcast 83 to discuss how counties and community foundations can work in tandem to boost public amenities and quality of life.

In addition to Caldwell, Currie was joined on the panel by Alize Asberry Payne, racial equity officer for Washtenaw County.

 

What is the ‘deadline’ for county apportionment work?

MAC has received questions from members on deadlines involving county apportionment as they relate to the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of data from Census 2020. Justin Roebuck, clerk of Ottawa County, provided some background from his research:

“Apparently, there are two different definitions of the date when the Census Bureau (CB) will release (or has released) ‘official data.’

“On Aug. 12, the CB released the bulk of the data, which included block data on population, and which they called “official.”  However, they had scheduled for Sept. 30 a final release of all data, which would include some of the demographic data not yet available. (The Sept. 30 date has subsequently been moved up to Sept. 16.)

“Guidance for map submittal from the Secretary of State and Bureau of Elections from the beginning has been based on the September release of all data, but a number of county clerks, as well as other County Apportionment Commission members, have raised concerns citing MCL 46.401, which indicates we must submit our final county maps no later than 60 days after the release of ‘official’ data from the CB. The Michigan Association of County Clerks obtained a legal opinion stating that the 60-day clock began on Aug. 12, and that Oct. 11 was actually the date that final maps should be submitted. Subsequently, the Bureau of Elections asked for an Attorney General’s Office opinion on the matter, and they received a memo from the AG’s Office indicating that the clock should start on the September 16 release date, meaning Nov. 15 would be the final date for map submittal.”

“In addition to that, a few counties have now asked the Court of Appeals for an extension of the October date, just to be sure and give themselves enough time. Branch County received an extension from the court.

MAC will continue to collect and share information on this issue as it becomes available.

 

Treasury’s ‘Chart Chat’ webinar set for Sept. 30

The Michigan Department of Treasury will host its next “Chart Chat” webinar on Sept. 30 at 2 p.m.

The Chart Chat series provides updates to local government officials on accounting-related topics, updates from the Michigan Department of Treasury and information on sound fiscal management.

This session will cover:

  • Accounting for marijuana revenues
  • Fund balance designations
  • Using taxable value as a fiscal indicator
  • Navigating Treasury’s online resources

To register, click here.

The department also maintains 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 Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance.

 

FY22 budget deal announced; 2% boost on revenue sharing expected

A fiscal 2022 state budget deal is in hand, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders announced this week, just days before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.

The Legislature is set to push through a single omnibus spending bill covering the funding for all state departments for FY22. The House and Senate Conference Committee could take up the bill as soon as Tuesday, Sept. 21, with a floor vote expected within the week. Although, details have yet to be released as to what’s inside this budget, MAC is expecting a 2 percent increase in county revenue sharing.

Not included in the omnibus budget bill will be the $6 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds allocated to the state or the $1 billion surplus identified in the May Revenue Estimating Conference. These funds will be part of supplemental bills passed throughout the rest of calendar 2021, after all sides have had time to negotiate for the inclusion of their priorities.

MAC will continue to monitor the FY22 budget and supplemental bills as they move through the Legislature.

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

 

MAC-opposed mental health bills get hearing in Senate

Two bills to revamp the state’s mental health system in ways opposed by MAC received their first hearing before the Senate Government Operations Committee this week.

Senate Bills 597-598 would shift administration of Medicaid mental health services to private health plans through the creation of specialty integrated plans. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R- Jackson) sponsored SB 597 and also chairs the committee; SB 598 is sponsored by Sen. John Bizon (R-Calhoun).

In testimony before the committee, the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan (CMHAM) outlined opposition and major areas of concern, including higher costs and lack of public accountability and oversight. Rather than dismantling the current system, CMHAM urged legislators to build from the point of service delivery, rather than taking a top-down financial approach these bills seek to integrate.

Nearly all testimony this week encouraged lawmakers to focus on improving access and staffing shortages across the workforce. Representatives from the Michigan Association of Health Plans testified in support for the bills. A full video of testimony can be found here.

MAC has long opposed a shift to a private health plans and supports local governance and accountability rooted in the mental health code. This structure allows partnerships across county-based services, including responding to those who come in contact with the county sheriff department and/or jail, local court system, juvenile justice system, health department or local hospital.

Another committee hearing is expected to be held on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.

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

 

Regional meetings set for ARP local government funding

On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021 establishing the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, $130 billion of which is earmarked for distribution to local governments. Generally, allowable uses of the fund include (but are not limited to):

  • Responding to or mitigating the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Providing government services to the extent of a reduction in revenue
  • Making necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure
  • Responding to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers

Member regions of the Michigan Association of Regions will host Michigan State University (MSU) Extension faculty and local and tribal government officials to explore Local Fiscal Recovery Fund spending opportunities in a regional context. Join other local leaders to learn about:

  • ARP Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Basic Rules
  • Best Practices for Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Spending
  • Practical Considerations for Contracts, Accounting, and Project Management
  • Group Discussions Related to Regional Collaboration
  • Leveraging Other State and Federal Funding and Priorities

The workshops are intended for regional planning and development board members, other local elected and appointed officials, tribal government officials, economic development practitioners and other public and nonprofit community development organization staff.

Program details

All workshops run 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (registration opens at 9 a.m. for in-person programs). Format varies by region: virtual (exclusive Zoom), hybrid (choice of in-person or Zoom attendance) or in-person.

All events are free.

The first session is set for Sept. 23 in Traverse City. To see the full list of dates, locations and registration information, click here.

 

On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021 establishing the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, $130 billion of which is earmarked for distribution to local governments. Generally, allowable uses of the fund include (but are not limited to):

  • Responding to or mitigating the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Providing government services to the extent of a reduction in revenue
  • Making necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure
  • Responding to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers

Member regions of the Michigan Association of Regions will host Michigan State University (MSU) Extension faculty and local and tribal government officials to explore Local Fiscal Recovery Fund spending opportunities in a regional context. Join other local leaders to learn about:

  • ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Basic Rules
  • Best Practices for Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Spending
  • Practical Considerations for Contracts, Accounting, and Project Management
  • Group Discussions Related to Regional Collaboration
  • Leveraging Other State and Federal Funding and Priorities

The workshops are intended for regional planning and development board members, other local elected and appointed officials, tribal government officials, economic development practitioners and other public and nonprofit community development organization staff.

Program details
All workshops run 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (registration opens at 9 a.m. for in-person programs). Format varies by region: virtual (exclusive Zoom), hybrid (choice of in-person or Zoom attendance) or in-person.

All events are free.

The first session is set for Sept. 23 in Traverse City. To see the full list of dates, locations and registration information, click here.

‘Wait-and-see’ approach advised on federal vaccine and testing rule

Counties would be well served to wait and see how a federal rule on employers for COVID vaccines and testing plays out before reacting, MAC was advised by legal experts on Friday.

Attorneys from the firm of Cohl Stoker & Toskey P.C. analyzed the announcement from the Biden administration on Thursday and stated:

“The federal OSHA does not directly apply to Michigan employers. Rather, Michigan has a State Plan of its own under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA), MCL 408.1001 et seq.

“MIOSHA applies to all places of employment, except domestic employment and mines, MCL 408.1002(1), and applies to all employers, including the State or a political subdivision (including Counties) that employ one or more persons.  MCL 408.1005(2); MCL 408.1006(2); MCL 408.1009. …

“Thus, the promulgation of a new Federal OSHA Standard by the U.S. Department of Labor would not apply in Michigan unless and until it is processed as an administrative rule in Michigan. MCL 408.1014(5). 

“At this point, the scope of the proposed new Federal OSHA Standard mandating vaccines or frequent testing is unclear, e.g., there may be exceptions for certain employers, such as the Postal Service. 

“The actual language must be reviewed to ascertain whether it may ultimately be applicable to Michigan counties. Even so, several groups have already pledged to challenge the proposed new Federal OSHA Standard on constitutional and other grounds.”

 

Treasury releases information on finalizing Interim Final Report on COVID aid

The U.S. Treasury has released new information regarding the process for finalizing the Interim Final Report for the Fiscal Recovery Fund. 

Key points include:

  • Treasury is in the process of reviewing the more than 1,000 public comments in response to the Interim Final Rule (IFR).
  • Treasury expects its review of comments to continue into the fall. Therefore, the Final Rule will not be published until this fall or after.
  • Until Treasury adopts a Final Rule, and the Final Rule becomes effective, the IFR is, and will remain, binding and effective. This means that counties can and should rely on the IFR to determine whether uses of funds are eligible under the Recovery Fund.
  • Funds used in a manner consistent with the Interim Final Rule while the Interim Final Rule is effective will not be subject to recoupment
  • Counties may use the IFR to interpret whether their use of fund meet the criteria of what is eligible (beyond the eligible uses listed on page two of Treasury’s recent statement)
  • Counties can use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, up to their amount of revenue loss due to COVID-19, with broad discretion to provide government services
  • Counties may also consider FAQs issued by Treasury to help assess whether a project or service would be an eligible use of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

To read Treasury’s full statement on the Final Rule process, click here.

 

Podcast 83 returns to live sessions Monday; register now!

Summer is over, which means legislators are returning to Lansing – AND MAC’s Podcast 83 team will be back to weekly live sessions to give you all the inside info on what’s happening at the Michigan State Capitol and in Washington, D.C.

Register now at this link for the Monday session, which will start at 3 p.m.

MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie will lead MAC’s Governmental Affairs Team of Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit threw the latest on key issues affecting counties, including:

  • Developments on American Rescue Plan funding and reporting
  • What’s happening on the fiscal 2022 state budget negotiations, with the Oct. 1 start of the budget year now looming
  • MAC’s fall campaign to finish legislative approval of bills to enact four-year terms for county commissioners, starting in 2024

A recording of the session, which will include Q&A with viewers, will be placed on MAC’s YouTube channel on Sept. 17.

Links to past episodes also can be found on the podcast webpage.

 

Webinar to answers questions on using the ‘.gov’ web domain

A Sept. 22 webinar co-sponsored by federal and state agencies will discuss the benefits of local governments using the “.gov” URL domain.

The federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has long encouraged use of the .gov domain, yet in Michigan, only a handful of counties have adopted it.

Starting at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 22, CISA officials will discuss “Making the Move to DOTGOV.” This is a half-hour discussion with a Q&A session to follow. CISA will provide information on the transition well as common hurdles that may arise and how to deal with them.

Use the following link to participate: https://share.dhs.gov/mi_elections/.

NOTE: The link will take you to a sign-in page. Just click to sign on as a guest (upper left corner).

CISA and the Michigan Department of State also are promoting two other sessions in September that focus on cybersecurity challenges:

Risk in Focus: Phishing, Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m.

Link: https://share.dhs.gov/mi_elections/

Phishing attacks remain a serious risk to the election infrastructure. This presentation describes what phishing is, signs an email may be a phishing attack, how it impacts state, local, tribal and territorial government entities, and specifically how it can impact election infrastructure. The session provides an overview of resources, services, and best practices to managing phishing-related risks.

Election Security: Building Trust through Secure Practices, Sept. 29, 1 p.m.

Link: https://share.dhs.gov/mi_elections/

This presentation identifies election security best practices used by election offices to physically secure and ensure proper chain-of-custody for ballots, voting equipment and other sensitive election materials; ensure that voting equipment is functioning as intended; and help build public trust in elections and counter mis- and disinformation through related communications and transparency measures. The session will also include training on the Local clerk information sharing room we will continue to utilize on Election Day.

 

Supreme Court sets Sept. 22 hearing on court rules

The Michigan Supreme Court has scheduled a public administrative hearing on Sept. 22 to gather comment on a variety of proposed amendments to Michigan Court Rules. The hearing will be held at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing, beginning promptly at 9:30 a.m. and adjourning no later than 11:30 a.m.

Link to proposed rules: http://legalnews.com/detroit/1503063/.

 

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