Archive for February, 2023

Counties with resources urged to share with areas hit hard by ice storm

Hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents remain without power on Friday as the state’s two major utilities continue to deal with the aftermath of a large ice storm that hit mid-week across Southern Michigan.

Approximately 700,000 locations are without power, and many will remain that way into next week, MAC is told. Consumers Energy and DTE have hundreds of crews out working to restore the power, and have brought in crews from other states.  Even though the storm is over, high winds caused even more power lines to fall from the weight of the ice Thursday night.

A statewide emergency has not yet been declared, but MAC has been assured by the Governor’s Office that they are deploying resources and have all hands on deck to help. MAC encourages counties to reach out to emergency management offices in hard-hit areas (see map) if they have resources to lend during the prolonged outage. Each emergency management office should have a list of needs to keep facilities operating and residents warm. The list may include generators, diesel fuel, and supplies for warming shelters.

For additional information on emergency management offices, visit the website of the Michigan Emergency Management Association.

DTE reported Friday morning that it hoped to have 50 percent of its down customers back online today.

Consumers Energy said it had restored more than 65,000 customers already and has 480 crews in the field.

For real-time information on restoration efforts, check the Twitter feeds for DTE and Consumers.

 

Filing period opens for special MAC Board elections at 2023 Legislative Conference

County commissioners interested in serving on the MAC Board of Directors have until March 24, 2023, to file for special elections to fill five seats on the Board at the 2023 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

These special elections will be for partial terms and held on April 25 at the conference in Lansing. To be an official candidate, commissioners must file official notice of their intent to run. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on March 24, 2023.

All five seats available represent regions, so will be decided by a vote in regional caucuses.

Click here to download the application form.

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.

Following seats are vacant and will be filled at the 2023 Legislative Conference:

  • Region II, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region III, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region IV, Seat B (would serve term to Annual conference of 2026)
  • Region V, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region VI, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2025)

No director shall serve more than three full three-year terms, except in certain situations where a director is filling a vacancy in an unexpired term. If the elected replacement shall serve more than half of the unexpired term, it shall be considered as if such person has served one full term for purposes of term limits. If the person filling the vacancy shall serve less than half of the unexpired term, that person shall be permitted to serve up to three additional full 3-year terms. *Denotes a period of less than half of a term.

Candidates who file 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 or scurrie@micounties.org.

 

Treasury’s Contact Center on ARP issues reopens

The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Contact Center for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) reopened on Feb. 21. The Contact Center closed last year due to an administrative funding shortfall, which impacted Treasury’s ability to provide technical assistance and support to counties that received State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Funds (LATCF), Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds and more.

Late last year, Congress provided additional resources for the Office of Recovery Programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023 as part of the Cornyn/Padilla amendment (the National Association of Counties and MAC worked with both Congress and Treasury to ensure the inclusion of this critical amendment).

Counties can reach out to the Contact Center for questions related to recovery programs at these contact points:

 

Join Treasury, MSUE for free webinar on budgeting

MSU Extension and the Michigan Department of Treasury will cover the fundamentals of budgeting during uncertain economic times, tracking long-term fiscal health, and operational best practices.

The webinar is free and will run from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. (ET) on March 16, 2023. Click here to register.

Michigan communities have experienced fiscal instability for a number of reasons, including the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, and ongoing economic uncertainty. This webinar will provide best practices for local government fiscal health, including budgeting, long-term planning, dealing with uncertainty, and financial policies and procedures.

MAC has just designated this session as part of County Commissioner Academy (CCA), the association’s continuing education program for members. Participants in this session will earn 3 credit hours for CCA.

What will be covered:

  • The budget process and communicating your budget
  • Dealing with uncertainty in a changing economy
  • Understanding key financial variables, such as:
  • The “rainy day fund”/fund balance/net position
  • Understanding how the tax base provides revenue
  • Understanding volatile revenue
  • Forecasting revenue and expenditures
  • How to track your budget performance, including reviewing and amending your budget
  • How spending in the present will have an impact on the future. 

Detailed guides that outline strong policies and procedures each local government should have. These guides include a checklist to track what your local government already has, what you are working on, and next steps. 

The Fiscally Ready Communities program was created to assist communities that want to establish, measure, and maintain policies to increase operational and financial effectiveness and safeguards. This partnership between MSU Extension and the Michigan Department of Treasury helps local governments work towards fiscal health by sharing best practices in fiscal sustainability. There are currently four webinars that are part of the Fiscally Ready Communities program, with a fifth to be added later in 2023.

 

NACo seeks applications for 2023 Achievement Awards

Counties have until March 3 to get the best fee on their applications for a 2023 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award.

The program is a non-competitive awards program recognizing innovative county government programs. One outstanding program from each category will be selected as the “Best of Category.” Below, find resources to help you begin your application and explore past winners.

Only county governments and state associations of counties are eligible to submit applications. There is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by a single entity. Regional partners are welcome to submit applications for a collective project; however, submitters must identify a single county or state association to submit the application on the group’s behalf.

To be eligible, programs must accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Offer new services to county residents, fill gaps in the availability of services, fill gaps in or tap new revenue sources
  • Improve the administration of an existing county government program
  • Upgrade the working conditions or level of training for county employees. Enhance the level of citizen participation in, or the understanding of, government programs
  • Provide information that facilitates effective public policy-making
  • Promote intergovernmental cooperation and coordination in addressing shared problems

The fee for each application submitted by March 3, 2023, is $75. The fee for each application will increase to $100 from March 4-April 7, 2023. Any application received without payment will not be judged or awarded.

For complete details, visit the Achievement Awards page.

 

County commissioners interested in serving on the MAC Board of Directors have until March 24, 2023, to file for special elections to fill five seats on the Board at the 2023 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

These special elections will be for partial terms and held on April 25 at the conference in Lansing. To be an official candidate, commissioners must file official notice of their intent to run. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on March 24, 2023.

All five seats available represent regions, so will be decided by a vote in regional caucuses.

Click here to download the application form.

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.

Following seats are vacant and will be filled at the 2023 Legislative Conference:

  • Region II, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region III, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region IV, Seat B (would serve term to Annual conference of 2026)
  • Region V, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region VI, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2025)

No director shall serve more than three full three-year terms, except in certain situations where a director is filling a vacancy in an unexpired term. If the elected replacement shall serve more than half of the unexpired term, it shall be considered as if such person has served one full term for purposes of term limits. If the person filling the vacancy shall serve less than half of the unexpired term, that person shall be permitted to serve up to three additional full 3-year terms. *Denotes a period of less than half of a term.

Candidates who file 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 March.

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

Sens. Stabenow and Peters brief MAC delegation at NACo Legislative Conference

The National Association of Counties (NACo) hosted its annual legislative conference earlier this week. Michigan was well represented at the conference with nearly fifty commissioners in attendance, as well as several MAC staff members. The Michigan delegation had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow to discuss their priorities and hear more about federal policies.

Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) was discussed with both senators. Currently, the use of federal funds, including Medicaid and Medicare, cannot be used for inmates. This means that counties are financially responsible for the medical care of all inmates, including pretrial detainees who are presumed innocent under the constitution. Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Jeff Merkley of Oregon are leading a bipartisan effort to reform the MIEP, and the MAC group encouraged Sens. Peters and Stabenow to support their efforts.

Executives from the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council shared with the senators the crisis they face in attracting and retaining staff. Sen. Peters expressed interest in pursuing broader immigration policies as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he believes could be a solution to this problem.

President Joe Biden made an appearance at the conference speaking to a general session on Tuesday. As a former Delaware county commissioner, he acknowledged a need for a more direct line from the federal government to county government. This was what led to him to create the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), giving $65.1 billion directly to counties. He said ARPA was responsible for creating 12 million jobs in just two years. Senator Stabenow echoed this sentiment during her meeting with the Michigan delegation and expressed a desire to continue working on job creation in the state.

The NACo legislative conference is always a great opportunity to swap ideas and learn from other states how they have tackled issues that Michigan is facing. It is a platform for learning more about federal programs and connecting with Michigan’s federal legislators. Please consider participating in 2024!

 

Podcast 83 talks foreclosure litigation

In this special episode of Podcast 83, MAC talks with Ted Seitz, an expert in property tax law, about ongoing litigation on tax foreclosures on property and the resulting proceeds from tax sales.

Host Stephan Currie and Deena Bosworth, MAC Governmental Affairs Director, discuss with Seitz all of the potential turns in the litigation and what that could mean to county governments.

See the full video, recorded on Jan. 25.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

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

 

Michigan Supreme Court sets hearing date for trial court funding case

This week, the Michigan Supreme Court announced its March 2023 oral arguments session docket. Oral arguments in the case to decide the constitutionality of trial court judges levying fees against criminal defendants, People of MI v Travis Michael Johnson, are scheduled for March 1.

Prior to 2014, trial courts were able to impose operations fees on defendants. As a result of a 2014 Michigan Supreme Court (MSC) ruling, trial courts were no longer authorized to levy such costs without statutory authorization by the Legislature. In response to said ruling, the Legislature amended the current statute to allow trial courts to place “reasonably related” costs of prosecution on defendants but included the legislative sunset.

Currently, Michigan trial courts have the authority to impose fees, a critical funding element, until May 1, 2024. The legislature is currently working to implement the recommendations of the Trial Court Funding Commission before the May 2024 sunset date arrives. MAC supports the creation of the Trial Court Fund to distribute funding to trial courts based on operational requirements while maintaining local discretion over trial court operational decisions, and the establishment of uniform assessments and centralized collections through the State Court Administrator’s Office. The system will maintain judicial discretion for ordering fines, will reduce costs and increase efficiency.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org

 

NACo seeks applications for 2023 Achievement Awards

Counties have until March 3 to get the best fee on their applications for a 2023 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award.

The program is a non-competitive awards program recognizing innovative county government programs. One outstanding program from each category will be selected as the “Best of Category.” Below, find resources to help you begin your application and explore past winners.

Only county governments and state associations of counties are eligible to submit applications. There is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by a single entity. Regional partners are welcome to submit applications for a collective project; however, submitters must identify a single county or state association to submit the application on the group’s behalf.

To be eligible, programs must accomplish one or more of the following:

    • Offer new services to county residents, fill gaps in the availability of services, fill gaps in or tap new revenue sources
    • Improve the administration of an existing county government program
    • Upgrade the working conditions or level of training for county employees. Enhance the level of citizen participation in, or the understanding of, government programs
  • Provide information that facilitates effective public policy-making
  • Promote intergovernmental cooperation and coordination in addressing shared problems

The fee for each application submitted by March 3, 2023, is $75. The fee for each application will increase to $100 from March 4-April 7, 2023. Any application received without payment will not be judged or awarded.

For complete details, visit the Achievement Awards page.

Boost for revenue sharing highlights governor’s FY24 budget

A 17 percent boost in county revenue sharing is a “great indicator” that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recognizes the need to reinvest in local public services, MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie said Wednesday in response to Whitmer’s fiscal 2024 budget presentation in Lansing.

“The fact that this and so many of MAC’s 2023 priorities, such as investments in juvenile justice, public health and foster care, are reflected in the governor’s spending plan is a good start as the budget work begins in Lansing,” Currie added in an official statement.

Deena Bosworth, MAC director of governmental affairs, told the Gongwer News Service, “We’re hoping (the county revenue sharing increase) stays with 10 percent and the 7 percent. That represents a significant increase.”

Among MAC’s 2023 priorities in Lansing is the creation of a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund to include dollars earmarked by law from the state sales tax.

In other budget areas affecting county government:

Public health and public safety
  • A $30 million increase in base funding to local public health departments
  • An almost 60 percent increase in funding to support essential public health services to enhance recruitment efforts for behavioral health workers
  • Dedication of a 7 percent increase in revenue sharing to public safety, totaling $17 million, to aid with public safety employee recruitment, retention and training, and equipment and infrastructure improvements
  • $2 million to establish a Juvenile Justice Services Division within the State Court Administrator’s Office, implementing one of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform’s recommendations
  • $556,900 to create a juvenile justice unit within the State Appellate Defender’s Office, which would provide appellate counsel for indigent youth
  • $32 million for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services juvenile justice programming reimbursements; these reimbursements, through the Michigan Child Care Fund, are used for community programming for juvenile justice at the local level
  • $2 million to establish the Office of Child Advocate juvenile justice services
  • $220.9 million for Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) grants, a $72 million increase from FY23 to cover the minimum MIDC standards for indigent attorney compensation (120 local trial court funding units will receive this funding to implement the requirements for “effective and fair assistance of counsel for indigent criminal defendants”)
  • $19.3 million to increase the daily rate paid to foster families, adoptive families, and juvenile guardians.
Infrastructure

While Whitmer spoke at length about changing the vehicles on our roads (see bullets below), she had little to say about investments in roads. Nearly all the money in the proposed transportation budget is dedicated to ongoing programs, including debt service and a bridge bundling initiative.

Electric vehicle spending

  • $45 million for local governments to convert their fleets to electric vehicles (EVs)
  • $65 million for charging infrastructure both commercially and at-home
  • $48.8 million to temporarily suspend the sales tax on electric vehicles
  • $150 million for electric school buses

The governor called for $225.8 million to replace thousands of water service lines made of lead and $280.5 million for water treatment facility upgrades and stormwater management systems. Not all these dollars would come from the state General Fund, however, as a large portion would be drawn from funds via the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Also, she proposed $25 million to remove dams, so long as they do not contain invasive species or generate power for communities.

A more detailed line-item breakdown of the governor’s budget is planned for the Feb. 17 Legislative Update.

 

Podcast 83 gives initial review of governor’s FY24 budget

There is much to like for counties in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fiscal 2024 budget proposal, members of MAC’s Podcast 83 team said during an episode taped the day after the governor’s presentation on Feb. 8.

Guest host Deena Bosworth, MAC Governmental Affairs Director, led MAC staffers Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson through areas of particular note to counties, highlighted by:

  • A 17 percent increase on county revenue sharing
  • A $19 million boost to support foster families
  • More than $12 million to support ongoing work for a statewide judicial case management system

By contrast to these high points, the governor’s budget only raised more questions about another perennial county concern: proper funding for roads and bridges. The budget’s emphasis on electric vehicles, which do not contribute to the state’s key fuel funds, only exacerbate the concerns MAC and others expressed about road funding trends during a policy briefing in late January.

On the lighter side, watch the episode to find out who celebrated a birthday this week.

See the full video, recorded on Feb. 9.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

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

 

State releases opioid settlement spending principles

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released its spending “plan” for the state of Michigan’s opioid settlement dollars for 2023.

The document does not provide dollar amounts, but states it is: “A brief overview of key efforts and investments.”

MDHHS has been authorized to spend $39.2 million of the settlement dollars to carry out these efforts and plans to focus on activities that cannot be funded from other restricted sources. The areas for investments align with the state opioid strategy focusing on the pillars of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, data, equity, criminal-legal and pregnant and parenting populations. Additional areas targeted include administrative costs and technical assistance and resources for local governments.

The assistance for local governments will be provided through three universities and will involve partnership with MAC. Many of the investments outlined by the state are associated with work taking place at the local level, potentially increasing the amount of funds flowing into counties in Michigan.

For information on MAC’s opioid settlement assistance, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

Budget includes plan for pay boost for nursing care workers

The state would commit $210.1 million to increasing pay for direct care workers in skilled nursing facilities under a provision of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fiscal 2024 budget.

These recommendations would increase the average wage by $1.50 per hour for direct care workers.

An additional $90 million in state dollars would go to boost pay for non-direct care employees.

The Michigan Counties Medical Care Facilities Council, which represents the 34 county-owned medical care facilities in Michigan, supports pay increases for workers, its executive director, Renee Beniak, said Friday. To see the council’s legislative priorities for fiscal year 2024, click here.

For more information on this issue, please contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

 

Counties pass resolutions to honor MAC’s 125th Anniversary

MAC extends its thanks to member counties that have passed, or are planning to pass official resolutions in honor of MAC’s 125th Anniversary year, which began on Feb. 1.

As of mid-day Friday, MAC had copies of such resolutions from Branch, Lenawee, Mackinac, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Sanilac and Wexford. Three other counties have advised MAC they plan such action in the next two weeks.

To assist members with this effort, MAC created a resolution template with historical facts and accomplishments by the association, which was sent to county board chairs and administrators. Members can still download a copy at this link on MAC’s special anniversary webpage.

If your county has passed a resolution or plans to do so, please alert MAC via email to melot@micounties.org.

 

MAC launches 125th Anniversary year with Capitol kickoff event

Board President Stan Ponstein of Kent County welcomes attendees to the State Capitol for MAC’s 125th Anniversary launch event on Feb. 1.

The Michigan Association of Counties launched its 125th Anniversary on Feb. 1 with a State Capitol announcement and reception featuring remarks from state and county leaders.

“On this date, 125 years ago, in the Senate chamber just steps away, representatives from 16 counties gathered to form this association,” said Stan Ponstein of Kent County, president of the Michigan Association of Counties’ Board of Directors. Ponstein noted that while Kent was not among the original 16, it has produced the largest number of MAC presidents – 11 and counting.

Originally formed as the State Association of Supervisors of Michigan, the association was formally renamed the Michigan Association of Counties in 1969 as the state shifted to county boards staffed by commissioners directly elected from geographic districts.

“In addition to those who have helped lead this organization to where it is today are those whose current commitment helps us achieve our long-standing role to educate and advocate for all 83 counties,” said Executive Director Stephan Currie in his remarks. “We have an incredibly diverse and qualified staff who work tirelessly on behalf of every county in the state. … Our team is honored to be supported by the MAC Board of Directors who are elected by their fellow commissioners to represent the broad needs of our state’s 83 counties. These board members are the engine of our association.”

Also speaking at the event in the State Capitol’s new Heritage Hall were:

  • State Sen. Veronica Klinefelt of Macomb County
  • State Rep. Julie Rogers of Kalamazoo County
  • State Rep. Ken Borton of Otsego County
  • State Rep. Matthew Bierlein of Tuscola County

Klinefelt, Borton and Bierlein, all former MAC Board presidents, presented a personal legislative tribute to MAC to mark the anniversary.

See video from the event.

See a photo gallery from the event.

MAC also unveiled a special logo for the anniversary year, which will include a variety of events culminating in an Anniversary Gala for members at the association’s 2023 Annual Conference in Kalamazoo County in October.

To keep track of all the anniversary activities and resources, bookmark the 125th Anniversary Page on the MAC website at www.micounties.org.

MAC is the oldest Michigan association representing local governments and the only one dedicated to the representation of all county commissioners in Michigan.

 

MAC partners on toolkit to help counties address opioids challenge

A new toolkit designed by MAC and Vital Strategies, a health policy nonprofit, was released this week to help counties address an overdose crisis that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people in 2021.

The state of Michigan is slated to receive nearly $800 million over 18 years as part of the opioid litigation settlements, and approximately half of these funds will go directly to county and municipal governments, providing an opportunity to strengthen evidence-based, accessible resources in local communities.  

To support local governments, MAC and Vital Strategies have produced a Michigan Opioid Settlement Funds Toolkit: A Guide for Local Spending. This new toolkit provides local governments, community organizations and health care providers with guidance on how to utilize opioid settlement funds. The executive summary can be accessed here. MAC is available to assist local leaders through this process by providing technical assistance.

“MAC and Vital Strategies’ partnership has resulted in this excellent toolkit and staff who can provide real-time support to members on their opioid abatement strategies. We’re proud that MAC can support its members – and Michigan – in combatting the growing and complex overdose crisis.” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. 

The toolkit contains several components, including:

  • Settlements overview, which provides information on the opioid litigation settlements, the state and local agreement, estimated funds per county, future funds and the tribal government settlements. 
  • Statistical overview and local data describing the scope of the overdose crisis, providing state-level data and where to access local data. 
  • Overview of spending principles laid out by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, as well as indicators for spending readiness. 
  • Steps for spending, which includes a framework for jurisdictions to begin their process of allocating opioid settlement funds, and general steps to follow during this process.   
  • Strategies for spending, which outlines key strategies from the State of Michigan, Exhibit E of the current settlement agreement and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  
  • Resources and practical tools around research and evidence-based programming to aid in local planning and spending are linked throughout the document.

Local governments will find guidance in the toolkit for stakeholder engagement, monitoring and accountability for the life-course of the spending process, information-gathering to assess and understand the needs of the community, and determining the process for moving forward. The new toolkit also provides strategies for engaging people who have lived experience, a critical component for success that is often overlooked. 

For more information on opioid assistance through MAC, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

State releases index on counties ‘vulnerable’ on substance use disorders

Oscoda, Wayne, Clare, Schoolcraft and Oceana counties are among those deemed most “vulnerable” on substance use according to a new data analysis by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

As reported by Michigan Radio earlier this week, several key points were extracted from newly released statewide opioid epidemic data to determine what communities and demographics are most vulnerable and in need of greater assistance. This Michigan Substance Use Vulnerability Index (MI-SUVI) has been designed to use more specific factors beyond just overdose rates to determine need.

The MI-SUVI Score is a measure that determines vulnerability to substance use, balancing eight indicators. Those eight indicators are divided into three categories: substance use burden, substance use resources, and social vulnerability. Each of these categories are separately defined. Substance use burden “looks at numbers like overdose rate, opioid prescribing rate, and more.” Substance use resources, for example, considers how many people in a county are within a 30-minute drive to a treatment center. Social Vulnerability, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “looks at social determinants to health, like technology and health care access.”

Newly reported data also revealed that young women ages 11-24 saw the highest overdose emergency department visits in 2020 and 2021, and that Black Michiganders are facing the highest rates of overdose deaths in the state.

While 2022 data is not yet complete, it currently suggests that overdose deaths in Michigan are slightly lower than previous years. Recent data also suggests that the number of Syringe Service Programs have tripled since 2019. Syringe Service Programs “allow individuals to safely get access to or get rid of injection equipment.” The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides a list of locations of Syringe Service Programs and Narcan Vending Machines.

As a result of all of nationwide opioid settlements, Michigan could receive $1.45 billion. The first portion of these payments, a total of $81 million, was distributed to local units of government on Jan. 31.

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) Opioid Settlement Resource Center website is a centralized hub for those engaged in planning and utilization of opioid settlement funds. The resource center houses a settlement tracking link, county-specific payment estimates, the Michigan Opioid Settlement Toolkit: A Guide for Local Spending, a resource library and a support request form. The Opioid Settlement Resource Library highlights resources to explore principles and tracking, evidence-based and promising practices, local government tools, legal resources, equity resources, other toolkits and reports and additional opportunities for funding. Support and technical assistance are available through completion of the Opioid Settlement Assistance Request Form.

For more information on MAC’s advocacy work on public health issues, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

 

New law sets Feb. 27 for presidential primary but questions remain

Voters would participate in Michigan’s presidential primary election on Feb. 27, 2024, under legislation signed into law this week. Or they may not, depending on how legal wrangling over legislative session rules play out.

The primary legislation was spurred by the Democratic National Committee’s reorganization of the party’s primary calendar and would make Michigan the fifth state in the nation to vote, behind South Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Georgia. 

Senate Bill 13, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), had overwhelming Democratic support, as party members have long advocated for an earlier position in the primary timeline to gain more power in selecting presidential nominees.

Republicans have the opposite view. The Republican National Committee is unwilling to change its rules to move up the GOP presidential primary date, and it plans to cut 85 percent of Michigan’s delegates for the GOP convention if the primary is held Feb. 27, 2024.

Since SB 13 passed the House 56-53, it did not gain immediate effect, which means the earliest it could take effect is 90 days after the last day of the legislative year. Considering session typically adjourns in mid-December, this presents a problem for the Feb. 27 date. The Legislature would need to adjourn no later than November to allow for the law to operate as planned. The next steps remain unclear as the parties continue to negotiate.

County and municipal clerks have expressed their inability to conduct two separate elections so close together; the result would be a financial and logistical nightmare. It is possible the Michigan Republican Party could select a presidential candidate through a caucus or convention, making a GOP primary unnecessary.

MAC did not take a position on the legislation but will monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Despins joins MAC staff as governmental affairs assistant

MAC filled out its Governmental Affairs Team this week as Amanda Despins joined the staff as governmental affairs assistant.

Prior to joining MAC, Despins served as a constituent relations liaison and legislative director in the Michigan House of Representatives for Rep. Ken Borton, a former MAC Board president. She holds a B.A. in international studies from the University of Michigan.

“Amanda comes to MAC highly recommended for her thoroughness and organizational skills,” said Deena Bosworth, MAC director of governmental affairs. “The Governmental Affairs Team is excited to have her on board to help facilitate all the work we do with our commissioners and with legislators.”

The governmental affairs assistant focuses on staff support for MAC’s internal policy committees and scheduling for Bosworth and the governmental affairs associates.

“MAC has a long history of being a respected organization in Lansing and advocating for counties on key issues,” Despins said. “I’m excited to work for such a reputable organization and join the MAC Team!”

Despins can be reached at despins@micounties.org.

 

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