Archive for February, 2022

House committee advances $1.15 billion for local pension grants

On Thursday in a joint committee meeting of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Tax Policy Committee, House Bill 5054 was voted out to the full House. This supplemental spending bill would provide $1.15 billion in grants to local governmental units to bolster their pension programs.

Specifically, HB 5054 would provide $900 million in grants up to $100 million per local unit that currently have pension plans funded at 60 percent or less. Strings attached to this grant program would include:

  • Making all actuarially determined contributions
  • A freeze on any contractual benefit enhancements for 10 years
  • Maintaining discount rates and assumed rates of return
  • Adoption of the most recent mortality tables
  • Agreement to be subjected to corrective action plans for 5 years

In addition to the $900 million, the HB 5054 provides $250 million in a grant program for those local units funded above 60 percent. The maximum award in this category could not exceed 5 percent of available funds and would come with the following strings attached:

  • Pre-fund any retiree health care
  • Make all actuarially determined contributions
  • Maintain discount rates and assumed rates of return
  • Adoption of the most recent mortality tables
  • Grants applied first to pension systems so that they system is 100% funded

FOR THOSE UNITS ALREADY FUNDED AT 100 percent, grants from the $250 million account could be used for principal payments on any outstanding debt obligations or, if the unit has zero debt, for infrastructure investments. 

These funds would come from the state General Fund surplus and not from federally allocated COVID relief funds.

MAC is still reviewing the benefits to counties and the potential interactions with bargaining rights.

The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.

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

 

Veterans property tax exemption bill heard in Senate

MAC’s Deena Bosworth (right) joined with representatives of MML and MTA on Wednesday to support legislation on reimbursements for property tax exemptions.

After years of negotiations, Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) introduced Senate Bill 783 and  Senate Bill 784 with the support of veterans organizations and local government organizations. The bills would establish a refundable income tax credit program, payable to the local governments in the amount of the property tax exemptions now given to disabled veterans. This approach would finally reimburse local governments from their losses associated with the exemption without requiring any additional steps for eligible disabled veterans. MAC testified Wednesday in support of the legislation along with other local government groups and veterans organizations. The Michigan Department of Treasury currently opposes the bills, so work will continue on the legislation to make it workable for all entities affected. 

In related news, Rep. Beau LaFave (R- Dickinson) is currently running House Bill 4908, which creates a fund for veterans organizations and, if the fund exceeds $4 million, would reimburse local units for their losses associated with the property tax exemption. HB 4908 would derive its revenue from lottery pull-tabs. It is unclear at this time just how much revenue this would raise and how it would be distributed should it not cover the cost of the exemptions. 

MAC will continue to support Senate Bills 783-784 as they move through the Legislature.

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

 

Renew your opposition to mental health privatization

Legislation that would damage mental health services in Michigan will soon get a vote in the Senate, and we need county leaders to voice their opposition.

Senate Bills 597-98, by Senate Majority Leader Shirkey (R-Jackson) and Sen. John Bizon (R-Calhoun), would shift financial administration of Medicaid mental health services to private Medicaid health plans. These bills ultimately take away public accountability and local governance and turn control over to for-profit private insurance companies that do not have a good track record in treating patients with mental health needs.

MAC opposes any move to shift toward privatization of our local public mental health system.

Earlier this week, a poll was released showing that two-thirds supported mental health being led by local public entities. Responding to those findings, MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie said, “Our members have heard of concerns first-hand from their constituents and these results just confirm voters worry about letting private health plans take control of the services for our most vulnerable populations. It is clear that Michiganders and County Commissioners from across the state believe that keeping a local public mental health system is best.”

Please help MAC convince the Senate to set aside these bills.

Using our advocacy platform, MAC is again asking you to send an email of opposition to your senator today.

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

 

Join Podcast 83 team on Feb. 28 for live update

MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie and the Podcast 83 team of Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit will be live on Monday, Feb. 28 to discuss the flurry of legislative events in Lansing in recent days and take your questions.

The update will begin at a new time: 4 p.m. To join the session, just use this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82867692853.

Among likely topics to be addressed are: legislation to provide $1.15 billion in local pension grants; bills to privatize the mental health system; the latest on reimbursing counties for property tax exemptions for disabled veterans; and preparations for the upcoming Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

Viewers will be able to ask questions of the team as well.

If you can’t catch the episode live, a recording will be posted later next week to MAC’s YouTube channel.

And you always can find details about any Podcast 83 episode on the MAC website.

 

Bill to end cap on crime tip rewards clears House

Counties would have full freedom of action to set rewards they offer for information leading to an arrest and conviction under a bill passed unanimously by the Michigan House of Representatives this week.

House Bill 4173, by Rep. Kara Hope (D-Ingham), would remove a $2,000 cap on a reward a county board can offer for the arrest and conviction of a person who has committed a crime or escaped from prison or jail in that county. Counties would decide their reward amounts, and awards would be paid out of the general fund of the county.

MAC supports this bill as a way to provide local control over county general funds and remove outdated statutory limitations. The bill now moves to the Senate but has not yet been assigned to a committee.

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

 

Mason County administrator picked for state workforce panel

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced appointments to the Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council created by Executive Order 2021-15. Their goal will be to identify review, develop and recommend policies, administrative actions, legislative changes, and other approaches to support high-quality nursing home care. 

Among the appointees is Jannice L. Lamm, administrator with Oakview Medical Care Facility in Mason County. She is appointed to represent county government nursing home employers.

The Council will also include the directors or their designees of the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and the Michigan State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Salli Pung. 

The Council must submit a final report or consensus recommendations to the governor by or before Dec. 1, 2023. Appointees will serve until the council dissolves on Dec. 1, 2023.

 

CRC webinar will analyze governor’s budget proposal

“A relatively strong economy and the availability of new federal funding creates circumstances for an unusual process for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget – a growth budget,” reports the Citizens Research Council of Michigan in announcing a March 4 webinar, “Analysis of Governor Whitmer’s Proposed FY2023 Budget.”

Beginning at 11 a.m. on March 4, CRC’s Bob Schneider and Craig Thiel will “review the governor’s proposed budget to take stock of available revenues, highlight spending priorities, analyze recommendations for school funding and other major budget categories, describe the historic context of the proposed budget, assess the effects of proposed tax cuts, and analyze the proposed uses of COVID-relief, infrastructure, and state surplus dollars. Join us to have your questions answered and better understand the details of the proposed FY2023 budget.”

Click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

MAC is a long-time supporter of the Citizens Research Council and its work to provide facts and data on public policy in our state.

 

A new poll commissioned by the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan and conducted by third-party survey provider EPIC-MRA found 67% of Michigan voters prefer the public mental health system to be managed by public entities who specialize in mental health care vs. turning the system over to private, for-profit companies.

Last year, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Shirkey introduced Senate Bills 597 & 598 which would privatize all Medicaid mental health services by giving full financial control and oversight to for-profit insurance companies. The EPIC-MRA polling shows two out of three Michigan voters would NOT support that change.

The poll was conducted in January 2022 among active and likely November 2022 general election voters across Michigan with a margin error of +/-4%. It comes at a critical time as communities across Michigan and the U.S. face a growing need for mental health support in the wake of the coronavirus. Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer also prioritized mental health funding in her State of the State address this past January, proposing $361 million to open school-based clinics and fund mental health professionals inside schools and increase access to mental health screenings. Other key data points from the poll include:

  • Nearly 3 times as many Michiganders oppose the privatization of the state’s mental health services for Medicaid patients (the purpose of Senate Bills 587 & 598). 67% oppose while only 24% support that privatization.
  • 76% of voters are concerned that private, for-profit health plans, do not have a good track record in treating patients with mental health needs and fear they will make matters worse.
  • 73% of voters are concerned that high overhead costs of the private health insurance companies (double that of the public system) and the corporate profits that these companies take out of the taxpayer-funded Medicaid system will lead to less mental health services for those in need.
  • The data also found factors that make a public mental health care system more cost effective than a private system, including active management of comprehensive services, a person-centered planning approach and high medical loss ratios (low spending on administrative costs to allocate those dollars towards Medicaid beneficiaries).
  • Nearly 4 times as many Michiganders are less likely to support their legislator if he/she supports privatization of mental health services for Medicaid patients than those more likely to support that legislator: 40% less likely compared with only 11% more likely.
  • Twice as many Michiganders think that Governor Whitmer should veto legislation if it passes than those who think she should sign the bills: 54% favor veto with only 27% favoring signing

“Our members have heard of concerns firsthand from their constituents and these results just confirm voters worry about letting private health plans take control of the services for our most vulnerable populations,” said Stephan Currie, the Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “It is clear that Michiganders and County Commissioners from across the state believe that keeping a local public mental health system is best.”

For the past 50 years, the mental health system in Michigan has been run and operated by county-based government entities to serve Michiganders with complex mental health, emotional disturbance, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders. The study by the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Integration found that Michigan’s public mental health system has a long tradition of high performance. Each year more than 325,000 Michiganders receive their services and care from the Michigan public mental health care system. The legislation under consideration in the Michigan State Senate would eliminate the existing Michigan public mental health care system and shift $3.5 billion of these state and federal dollars spent annually on this to private for-profit insurance companies based in Missouri, California, Minnesota, Arizona and Indiana.

“When Michigan ultimately develops a better system of behavioral health care, it must be designed around the needs of the individuals and families being served,” said Sherri Boyd, Executive Director of The Arc—Michigan. “While today’s system needs work, the proposed legislation being discussed here reflects the needs of payers first, not people, which is the primary reason it is not being better received by the public. We believe better solutions are out there and look forward to working with our state’s policy leaders to help identify and implement them.”

In a separate report, The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) gave health insurance companies that provide mental health services for treatment of mild-to-moderate mental health cases 2.4 out of 5 stars. Supporters of the public mental health care system are concerned that health insurance companies will not be able to provide services for adults with severe mental health needs, according to this new poll. Additionally, other states (such as Iowa) who have selected private companies to manage mental health care have found they do not provide the same level of care or understand the unique needs.

“As survey findings underscore, Michiganders strongly oppose Senate Bills 597 & 598. Their concerns revolve around the weak track record that the private health insurance companies have with mental health services and the high overhead costs and profit taking of these companies – syphoning tax dollars out of the system designed to serve some of the most vulnerable Michiganders,” said Robert Sheehan, CEO of CMHA. “Michiganders see through the false portrayal of these bills as improving the lives of the Michiganders. They see the damage that these bills will do to the state’s public Community Mental Health system and, as a result, to the health and quality of life of the 325,000 Michiganders who have long relied on this system for high quality mental health services and supports.”

More than 100 Michigan-based groups oppose the privatization of mental health care, including the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, the Michigan Association of Counties, over 30 boards of county commissioners, over 50 mental health provider organizations, judicial and school-based organizations, the Michigan Catholic Conference, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and organized labor groups.

State commits $1.2 billion to health response on COVID

A supplemental appropriation bill signed by Gov. Gretchen Witmer this week commits $1.2 billion to health care efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, now Public Act 9 of 2022, includes appropriations to address health worker recruitment and retention, plus funding for COVID-19 early treatment and various testing supports.

Highlights of the spending bill include:

  • $300 million for eligible health care recruitment, retention and training programming for new investments. A health care provider must demonstrate an eligible qualifying need under the rules and regulations of the federal coronavirus state fiscal recovery funding and must not request funds for any investments related to recruitment or retention announced before Dec. 1, 2021. The bill also requires 75 percent be allocated for acute care and behavioral health care providers, which would be administered by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, and requires 25 percent be allocated to post-acute care providers and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • $10 million as a competitive grant program for nursing facilities to convert multi-resident rooms into single-resident rooms. Grant awards would reimburse 50 percent of the cost, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) would have to prioritize converting rooms with more than 2 residents into single-resident rooms.
  • $29 million to assist nursing homes fund physical repairs and improvements of the facility. There is a $500,000 cap for each nursing home.
  • $29.7 million to local and tribal health departments, as well as schools, to support staffing costs of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. Of this, $14.9 million specifically goes to school districts, public school academies, intermediate school districts and nonpublic schools. The bill prohibits MDHHS from allocating funds to any local public health departments in which a county board of commissioners has passed a resolution rejecting these funds within 30 days of effective date of this act.
  • $10 million for programs and planning for a new state public health and environmental science laboratory.

A further detailed analysis can be found here.

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

 

Michigan delegation to NACo event attends Biden speech

A delegation of more than 30 county commissioners and other county leaders led by MAC Board President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County attended the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., this week.

One of the highlights of the event was a Tuesday address by President Joe Biden to a general session of the conference that included a reference to our own Oakland County. (See the 9:10 mark of this video.)

To make room for Biden’s address on the schedule, MAC and the offices of U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters were forced to scrub the traditional Senate briefing for Michigan county leaders on Capitol Hill, which had been slated for Tuesday afternoon.

MAC President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County and Alisha Bell of Wayne County at the MAC reception on Feb. 15.

Michigan leaders were able to attend a wide array of policy briefings on challenges before county government, including housing shortages and affordability, cybersecurity and implementing the 988 call line on suicide prevention.

MAC also hosted a reception on Tuesday evening for Michigan attendees to catch up and exchange notes.

“The president’s address to county leaders was the capper of an excellent conference,” said Stephan W. Currie, executive director. “As our members continue to develop their investment plans for American Rescue Plan funds, the conference sessions will prove invaluable.”

For a complete rundown of conference activities and resources, click here.

 

Coalition launches investment tracker on ARP funding

The Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan, a group of private and public sector groups including MAC, recently launched a tracker so Michigan residents can see what the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are doing with American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

To see the tracker, click here.

“This visual illustrates the Coalition’s bold vision for strategic investment of Michigan’s available ARP allocation,” the coalition announced with the data seen at right. “Significant work remains to strategically invest more than $6.5 billion in the key areas recommended by the Coalition proposal.”

MAC continues to work with coalition partners to brief legislators on its plan to pair state and local ARP funds to create historic investments in public services.

For details on the coalition’s Roadmap to Prosperity, click here.

 

Join MAC for important update on opioid settlement

MAC, in partnership with the state and other local government groups, will be hosting a webinar on the National Opioid Settlement on March 2 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Use this URL to join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81195931850?pwd=eXJWeVBKT0wxSG1LUHErcTJFMEg4Zz09

The webinar will provide an opportunity for local elected officials to learn more about the timeline and eligible uses of funds, as well as offer insights to best practices from state partners.

Presenting at the webinar will be:

  • Dr. Debra Pinals, medical director of the Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the director of the Program in Psychiatry, Law, & Ethics and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and Clinical Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan Law School.
  • Matt Walker, assistant attorney general in the Corporate Oversight Division. Matt works on Michigan’s opioid litigation and serves as the Attorney General’s designee on the governor’s Opioid Task Force.

There will be time for Q&A during the webinar, or feel free to email questions directly to Hannah Sweeney at Sweeney@micounties.org prior to March 2.

 

State offering $400 million to aid businesses, job growth

A new grant program will offer $409 million in grants to aid businesses and create jobs, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week.

Under the program, which begins March 1, “eligible businesses in operation before Oct. 1, 2019, may receive a percentage of their loss in total state sales through a grant, up to $5 million. Eligible businesses that began operating between October 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020, may receive a grant equal to 25 percent of certain specified costs. The grants may be prorated depending upon the number of businesses that apply to ensure that all eligible businesses can receive funding,” the governor’s office explained in a statement.

Businesses must submit a completed online application to the Michigan Department of Treasury no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on March 31. Grant awardees will be notified in the spring and grant awards will be distributed by July 1, 2022. 

The application will become available at 8 a.m. EST on March 1 at www.michigan.gov/abr

Businesses interested in applying are encouraged to attend one of the following informational webinars hosted by the state Treasury Department: 

  • Tuesday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-11 a.m. EST 
  • Monday, March 7, 1 p.m.-2 p.m. EST 

Details for signing up for a webinar can be found on the grant program’s website.  

To learn more about the Afflicted Business Relief Grant Program or read frequently asked questions, go to www.michigan.gov/abr

 

MAC offices closed on Monday, Feb. 21

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 21 to observe the federal Presidents Day holiday.

Normal office hours will resume on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

 

Governor proposes increase in County Revenue Sharing

State Budget Director Chris Harkins presented Governor Whitmer’s FY 2023 budget recommendations to the legislature this week. The $74 billion budget represents a 6 percent increase over the current 2021-22 fiscal year and includes historic one-time funding and ongoing funding for state departments and local governments. 

County and local governments would get a 10% revenue sharing increase under the proposal- a 5 percent increase in statutory revenue sharing that would be built into the base and 5 percent one-time increase. An additional $376,000 would be provided for county revenue sharing and the County Incentive Program. These funds would be split between Emmet County, the last county to re-enter the state revenue sharing program, and Leelanau County which returned during the 2022 fiscal year.

Other recommendations include:

  • $578M in new federal funding for roads, bridges, airports, local and intercity transit, and rail
    • $377.8M would fund road and bridge construction
    • $283.4M for state roads and bridges
    • $94.4M for local roads and bridges
  • $500M in Water infrastructure improvements to support lead service line replacements, consolidation of failing septic systems, and contamination risk reduction
  • $325M in one‐time funds to design and construct a new psychiatric hospital campus that would ultimately replace the state-operated beds at Hawthorn Center and the Walter P. Reuther State Hospital
  • $175M Judicial case management to create a single statewide case management system that aligns with the Trial Court Funding Commission’s recommendations
  • $148.9M for Michigan Indigent Defense Commission grants to local funding units for complying with MIDC standards
  • $15M for the Jail Diversion Fund which provides grants to local entities to establish and expand jail diversion programs
  • $5M for a prosecutorial diversion program affording eligible pretrial defendants an opportunity to obtain and maintain gainful, full-time employment with an eligible employer for a year
  • $4.2M for the county veteran service fund

Additionally, the Governor proposed a $51.8 million deposit to the Budget Stabilization Fund, which would bring the rainy-day fund balance to nearly $1.5 billion.

The full executive budget recommendations can be found here.

For more information on the Governor’s budget proposal, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

Healthcare spending bill passed by Legislature; bill sent to governor 

State lawmakers landed on a final version of a $1.2 billion healthcare-focused supplemental bill this week. House Bill 5523 introduced by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia) includes appropriations to address healthcare recruitment and retention, as well as funding for COVID-19 early treatment and various testing supports.

Some highlights of the spending bill include:

-$300 million for eligible health care recruitment, retention, and training programming for new investments. A health care provider must demonstrate an eligible qualifying need under the rules and regulations of the federal coronavirus state fiscal recovery funding and must not request funds for any investments related to recruitment or retention announced before December 1, 2021. The bill also requires 75% be allocated for acute care and behavioral health care providers, which would be administered by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and requires 25% be allocated to post-acute care providers and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

– $10 million as a competitive grant program for nursing facilities to convert multi-resident rooms into single resident rooms. Grant awards would reimburse 50% of the cost, and DHHS would have to prioritize converting rooms with more than 2 residents into single resident rooms.

– $29 million to assist nursing homes fund physical repairs and improvements of the facility. There is a $500,000 cap for each nursing home.

-$29.7 million to local and tribal health departments, as well as schools, to support staffing costs of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. $14.9 million specifically goes to school districts, public school academies, intermediate school districts, and nonpublic schools. The bill prohibits the department of health and human services from allocating funds to any local public health departments in which a county board of commissioners has passed a resolution rejecting these funds within 30 days of effective date of this act.

-$10 million for program and planning for a new state public health and environmental science laboratory.

A further detailed analysis can be found here. Gov. Whitmer has signaled she does plan to sign the bill when it officially lands on her desk.  

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

Binding Arbitration expansion bill clears Senate committee

This week, the Senate Small Business and Economic Development committee unanimously passed House Bill 4725, sponsored by Rep. Robert Bezotte (R-Howell), The bill would expand binding arbitration beyond police and fire labor bargaining units to county correctional officers. The bill is now on the Senate floor awaiting a vote.

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 bargaining units. The Michigan Public Employment Relations Act already provides for bargaining rights without tying the hands of the county in binding arbitration.

MAC asks members to use our Advocacy Center to send a pre-drafted message of opposition to their state senators.

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

Staff picks

Breakout topics released for 2022 Legislative Conference

Attendees at the 2022 Legislative Conference will have a dozen breakout sessions to choose from on trending issues in county governance, MAC announced this week. Each breakout session will be approximately one hour long and include time for questions from the audience of the experts and policymakers presenting at them:

  • What’s Coming on Mobility
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in County Government
  • Opioid Funding from the National Settlement
  • The Future of the County Workforce
  • Trial Court Funding
  • Cybersecurity Threats and Trends
  • Primer on the Headlee Amendment and State Taxation
  • How Counties Are Investing ARP Funds
  • How to Win Millage Elections
  • Open Meetings Act Update (joint with MCMCFC)
  • Stress Management in Stressful Times (joint with MCMCFC)
  • Cultivating an Agribusiness Economy

County commissioners who attend the conference will receive credit in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.

Click here to start your registration process.

The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC) is offering its members the following additional workshops (all MCMCFC events come with continuing education credits for its members):

  • Strategies for Success in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Stress Suppresses Success: SHAPE Your Stress Blueprint
  • Regulatory Updates and Other Sizzling Topics Speaker: Vickie Burlew
  • State Licensure and Federal Certification Regulatory Update

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will keynote the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference, addressing a plenary session of the event on Wednesday, March 23.

The conference also will feature:

  • A plenary session address by Larry Johnson, president of the National Association of Counties
  • A MAC Legislative Update, led by Deena Bosworth, director of governmental affairs
  • Remarks from MAC President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County and Executive Director Stephan Currie
  • A Legislative Reception on the evening of Tuesday, March 22, during which MAC will present its County Advocate Awards for legislative service in 2021

The conference will be an in-person event, though MAC plans to livestream select breakout sessions on Facebook. For the latest conference news, visit the MAC conference page.

 

MAC member directories arriving soon

County commissioners, administrators and board offices around the state will soon be receiving their 2022 MAC Membership Directory in the mail.

This annual directory carries contact information for all elected county officials in Michigan and background information on MAC and its activities on your behalf.

A searchable digital version of the directory can be found at this link or via a link on the MAC homepage. The password for the digital version will be on the Table of Contents page of the printed directory coming to your mailbox soon.

MAC also will have available a limited number of printed directories for sale for $40 each (which includes shipping). To order one, contact Derek Melot at melot@micounties.org.

If you need to update or correct information found on your county page, please send an email to melot@micounties.org.

 

AG issues opinion on OMA; MAC calls for legislative hearings on remote participation

In an opinion released Friday, Attorney General Dana Nessel said state entities could provide remote meeting participation to board members and the public under provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), even though the state’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) does not allow remote participation for any board member except those members absent due to military duty.

The AG’s Office noted that the opinion, however, is not binding on local entities. “(I)t is my hope that local boards will use this guidance and ensure fair access to public meetings for those who require appropriate accommodations as we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic,” Nessel said in a statement.

MAC, as always, advises members to consult with their counsel on any questions or issues arising out of the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Meanwhile, MAC has joined with other local government groups to urge the chairs of the House and Senate committees on local government to expedite hearings on the OMA to address the remote participation issue.

“Prior to OMA changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a member could participate and vote remotely when a quorum was physically present. County and local board members have used this option when the need arose. Other bodies created their own rules that disallowed members to participate and vote remotely, regardless of the option. Local and county governments were responsible and responsive to their constituents and adopted rules according to what served their boards and their communities. At minimum, our organizations seek to re-establish local control over their meetings and remote participation, with the same caveat of requiring a quorum to be present, if they choose to allow the option of remote participation and voting,” the letter sent to Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia) and Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Monroe) states.

For more information on MAC’s work on the OMA, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Michigan Green Communities Challenge is under way

The Michigan Green Communities Challenge is now live! Create your account and take the Challenge now at www.migreencommunities.com/challenge.

Michigan Green Communities is a statewide network of local government staff and officials that collaborate with one another, through peer learning and information sharing, to promote innovative sustainability solutions at the local, regional, and state level.

The annual Michigan Green Communities Challenge is a key part of the program and allows participants to track and benchmark their sustainability progress. Communities can log their sustainability actions using the MGC Challenge to achieve bronze, silver, or gold recognition.

Get ready to complete the challenge by reviewing the action items, looking at the getting started guide, and emailing info@migreencommunities.com with any questions you have.

You can also register for a Feb. 10 MGC webinar at 3 p.m. on guidance on accessing the Challenge portal and recording your community’s actions. To register, click here.

For more information contact Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

Water and sewer issues are focus of next NACo webinar on ARP funding

On Jan. 6, the U.S. Department of Treasury released the Final Rule for the $65.1 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund). Under the Final Rule, counties have broad flexibility for uses that strengthen the public health infrastructure, including workforce support, new eligibilities for capital expenditures, public health data systems and more.

Join NACo for the fifth in a series of information sessions where we will walk through key features in Treasury’s Final Rule for the Recovery Fund and how counties can effectively invest these dollars to enhance their water and sewer infrastructure.

 

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