Archive for September, 2023

Juvenile justice reform package clears House, Senate committees

A 20-bill package to reform juvenile justice work in Michigan cleared House and Senate committees this week. Senate Bills 418437 and House Bills 46244643 are a result of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform’s recommendations provided last July.

The Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform was established in 2021 to assess Michigan’s juvenile justice data and identify ways to improve the system. The bipartisan group was led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and included members from all three branches of government, as well as state and local level juvenile justice leaders and advocates. Two county commissioners served on the task force, each nominated by MAC. Alisha Bell of Wayne represented a county with a population over 100,000, while Marlene Webster of Shiawassee represented a county under 100,000 in population. Rep. Sarah Lightner, a former county commissioner, also served on the group.

The task force discovered several challenges to strengthening public safety and improving outcomes for youth. Those challenges, however, led to the set of thirty-two recommendations provided to the legislature last year. The recommendations are set to improve community safety, reduce disparities, and improve youth outcomes. Six priority areas have been identified and translated into the 20-bill package.

Senate Bill 418, by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Wayne) and House Bill 4624, by Rep. Christine Morse (D-Kalamazoo), enhance the County Child Care Fund (CCF) by establishing a minimum framework of juvenile justice best practices statewide, including the use of risk screening and assessment tools. The best practices will be supported by an increase in the reimbursement rate for community-based services from 50 percent to 75 percent, including 17-year-olds. These changes are essential for ensuring counties have the resources to implement and utilize these approaches. The reimbursement rate for residential services will be 50 percent, including the 17-year-old population.

SBs 419423 require the consistent use of validated screening and assessment tools to enable more objective decision-making and allow agencies to better match youth to appropriate supervision and services, reducing their likelihood to recidivate. The bills also expand the Diversion Act so that all offenses, with an exception for youth committing a specified juvenile violation, are eligible for pre-court diversion, based on the use of a risk-screening tool and other factors and limit the time that a youth can be placed on pre-court diversion, unless the court determines that a longer period is needed. While diversion eligibility would be expanded, judicial discretion remains.

SB 424 and HB 4630, by Sen. Sue Shink (D-Washtenaw) and Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), would expand the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to include development, oversight and compliance with youth defense standards in local county defense systems. MAC has worked to ensure there would be no increase in the local share for MIDC services, that 40 percent of the total grant amount would be received upfront and that partially indigent reimbursements will remain.

MAC supports this package and has worked alongside legislators, state departments and other stakeholders to ensure our concerns were met.

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

 

Changes to disabled veterans tax exemption sent to governor

Three policy bills aimed at alleviating some of the administrative problems for disabled veterans and their spouses passed the Legislature and are now headed to the governor for her signature.

Senate Bill 176, by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Wayne), will allow 100 percent disabled veterans to file for the property tax exemption one time and eliminate the need to apply for the exemption each year. The bill also will allow the surviving spouse of a qualifying veteran to continue to receive the exemption after the veteran passes, so long as the surviving spouse continues to use the home as a homestead and is the sole person remaining on the deed. The exemption would remain in perpetuity until rescinded by the veteran or their spouse.

SB 330, by Sen. Mary Cavanaugh (D-Wayne), establishes the procedure for the recission of the exemption within 45 days of either a change in the status of eligibility or if the property was no longer being used as a homestead. The bill also requires a local assessing unit to establish a procedure for auditing exemptions through guidance provided by the State Tax Commission. The bill also prohibits an audit more than once every three years, unless there is reason to believe that circumstances have changed.

SB 364, by Sen. John Damoose (R-Emmet), allows for the local board of review to consider the denial of an eligible surviving spouse a qualified error and allows for the exemption to be granted in such circumstances.

MAC was neutral on these policy changes but remains diligent in expressing the need for reimbursement of the property tax losses from the State for such losses.

There are six bills in the House and Senate that set up a process to reimburse local governments, but those bills have not seen any movement due to opposition from the Department of Treasury.  MAC will continue to work to resolve the financial losses for counties as the session continues.

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

 

Bill to allow opioid fatality review teams advances

A bill to allow a county or group of counties to establish an Opioid Fatality Review Team, by creating the Overdose Fatality Review Act, was approved by the Senate Committee on Health Policy this week.

Senate Bill 133, by Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), says, if a county chooses, an opioid fatality review team would consist of county officials, individuals from law enforcement and those from public health agencies. The main goal of a team would be to identify potential causes of drug overdose in their community and recommend law or policy changes for the prevention of those causes and overdoses.

MAC supports this legislation.

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

 

MAC has concerns on new court reporter fee legislation

A bill to boost wages for court reporters and recorders has been filed in the Michigan House.

House Bill 5046, by Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Macomb), would increase the amount a court reporter or recorder would receive from $1.75 to $3.75 per page on an original transcript, and 90 cents per page for each copy.

MAC has not yet taken a position on this legislation; however, we do have concerns and will work alongside the bill sponsor to address issues this bill may pose for county budgets.

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

 

Annual Conference starts on Sunday, Oct. 1

MAC’s 125th Anniversary celebration continues on Oct. 1 with the opening of the 2023 Annual Conference in Kalamazoo County.

More than 300 county elected officials, staffers and others are expected to attend the event at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.

Among the association activities at the conference:

  • MAC members will re-elect four members to the Board of Directors, including 2023-24 President Jim Storey of Allegan County. (Incumbents in Regions 1, 2 and 3 and for an at-large seat are all running unopposed.)
  • Storey will be sworn in as MAC’s 115th president and give his inaugural remarks at the President’s Banquet on the night of Oct. 2.
  • MAC members will review and approve policy platforms to guide the association’s work in 2023-24 during the Annual Business Meeting on Oct. 3.

Digital registration has closed, but MAC members may register at the conference site, with the on-site Registration Desk opening on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Following the conference, MAC will post presentations from plenary and workshop sessions, along with some video content.

 

Podcast 83: What policy trend ‘fascinates and terrifies’?

In their last episode prior to MAC’s 2023 Annual Conference, the Podcast 83 team reviews the unsettled legislative situation in Lansing and previews the conference offerings in Kalamazoo Oct. 1 -3.

Host Stephan Currie and MAC staffers Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson detail the State Capitol news, including:

  • The ongoing march of binding arbitration expansion, despite MAC’s opposition; and
  • Continuing work on juvenile justice reform.

Also discussed is the rapidly shrinking legislative calendar for the rest of 2023, with Bosworth expressing concern that the lack of session days could prevent passage of key MAC priorities until calendar 2024.

Currie turned the conversation to next week’s MAC Annual Conference, which will feature policy presentations on road funding, the affordable housing crisis and a topic that “fascinates and terrifies” Currie: AI developments.

View the full video of the episode, recorded on Sept. 26, by clicking here.

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

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

 

Treasury sets Oct. 5 webinar for local leaders

The Michigan Department of Treasury is pleased to announce its next Chart Chat webinar at 2 p.m. on Oct. 5.

The Chart Chat webinar series provides local governments with critical information related to accounting and auditing topics, measuring local government fiscal health, and other important updates from Treasury.

Topics covered will include:

  • Fiscally Ready Communities
  • ELITE System Updates  
  • Treasury Resources for Local Governments 
  • Uniform Reporting Format
  • Statutory Revenue Sharing Updates

Participants can register and submit questions prior to the webinar at: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_wKYuUiLtRyKtyP1hxbn3QQ#/registration

Presentations and recordings from this webinar, along with previous webinars, can be found at TREASURY – BLGSS Learning Center. Utilize TREASURY – Contact Information for support related to Treasury’s local government services. 

 

Expansion of binding arbitration clears Senate committee

Legislation to extend binding arbitration to county correctional officers has advanced this week, despite opposition from MAC and others.

House Bill 4438, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland), was approved by the Senate Labor Committee unanimously on Thursday. A substitute was adopted during the committee process to include all Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) certified law enforcement officers in binding arbitration, adding officers from universities and community colleges.

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 submitted a letter to committee members expressing these concerns. However, the current Legislature has time and again demonstrated strong support for unions and collective bargaining units. HB 4438 has been referred to the Senate floor for a final vote before likely advancing to the governor’s desk for signature.

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

 

MAC brokers improvements on indigent defense bills

Following key revisions brokered by MAC, legislation to expand the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission’s (MIDC) work to youths has the support of counties, a MAC staffer told a special legislative hearing this week.

House Bill 4630, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), and Senate Bill 424, by Sen. Sue Shink (D-Washtenaw), would have MIDC include youth indigent defense services.

In her testimony (19-minute mark of video), MAC’s Samantha Gibson detailed how MAC’s concerns about a compounding clause for the local share for MIDC services and disbursement rules were addressed. The compounding clause is gone, and the bills now would create the following disbursement model: 40 percent of the total annual grant amount upfront, and the remaining 60 percent of the grant will be disbursed in three equal increments.

MAC now supports this legislation, which is expected to be voted on in committee next week.

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

 

Lansing’s a legislative blur; Podcast 83 is here to bring issues into focus

Legislative work in Lansing is accelerating and MAC’s Podcast 83 team is your guide to everything going on at the State Capitol.

In their newest episode, host Stephan Currie and MAC staffers Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson detail the news, including:

  • A huge advance on revenue sharing reform, with a House committee giving unanimous and bipartisan support to MAC’s plan for a dedicated Revenue Sharing Trust Fund;
  • The debate over the scope of, and reimbursement for, property tax exemptions for veterans, which are now costing local governments around $100 million a year; and
  • MAC’s work to bring a reasonable approach to how Michigan regulates the siting of solar and wind energy projects.

View the full video of the episode, recorded on Sept. 18, by clicking here.

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

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

 

Counties asked to send shutdown impact data

With a federal government shutdown looming, MAC and the National Association of Counties need your help in collecting information on the impact of a shutdown on local public service delivery.

NACo will share this information with members of Congress and their staff as negotiations continue on Capitol Hill.

Please share any data/anecdotes or individual letters that outline the impacts during previous government shutdowns with MAC by emailing them directly to despins@micounties.org.

We appreciate your assistance on this matter.

 

Days dwindling to register for 2023 Annual Conference

County leaders still have a few days left to complete their online registration for the 2023 Michigan Counties Annual Conference in Kalamazoo County Oct. 1-3.

Click here for Attendee Registration

In honor of MAC’s anniversary year, the annual President’s Banquet will be capped by music in the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.

Additional highlights for this year’s event are:

A two-part, two-day dive into the details of Public Act 51, the state’s road funding formula via workshops held on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning

Plenary sessions on affordable housing and bridging generational differences in the workplace,

MAC’s Annual Business Meeting, during which members will review and approve MAC’s policy platforms for the coming year

Exhibitor Bingo and special raffles that will offer cash prizes to lucky attendees

The schedule of the conference is carefully crafted to respect members’ weekly schedule, with conference registration opening around noon Sunday and events concluding prior to hotel check-out on Tuesday morning.

Commissioners who attend the conference will earn 3 credit hours for MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.

Conference Registration Prices

  • Member* – Full Conference Rate: $490
  • Member* – Single Day Rate: $325
  • Non-Member – Full Conference Rate: $565
  • Non-Member – Single Day Rate: $385
  • Spouse/Guest Rate: $250

*The following are eligible for the member rate: county commissioners, county administrators, countywide elected officials, county staffers and staffers of MAC affiliates.

Hotels

The Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center is now SOLD OUT. For other hotel options in the area, visit the website of the Kalamazoo Convention and Visitors Bureau

 

New data sources offered for opioid settlement planning

County-level data is available to assist with opioid settlement planning from new sources. These tools and existing data sources, found under “Local Level Data” in MAC’s Opioid Settlement Resource Library provide a strong basis for understanding local needs and the scope of the drug overdose crisis and associated areas. 

  • NORC at the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development have created a community assessment tool detailing county-level data highlighting socioeconomic factors in relative to the opioid crisis. The National Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool is interactive and provides data visualizations and tables for local use.
  • NORC and East Tennessee State University, funded by the HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy have released the Recovy Ecosystem Index Mapping Tool. This tool looks at fourteen (14) indicators associated with a recovery ecosystem, such as the continuum of substance use disorder support and infrastructure, to assist with understanding the current landscape and needs.
  • Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and Third Horizon Strategies, funded by Elevance Health Foundation, developed another data tool to assist in planning efforts. The Opioid Abatement Needs and Investment Tool looks at five social determinants of health domains (healthcare, environment, economic, education, and social) and identifies a counties need in that area, while pointing to examples of strategies and programs to address those areas of need.

To understand more about what data local governments have access to through their local public health departments, register for our upcoming webinar, Overdose in Our Backyard: Resources and Collaboration for Opioid Settlement Spending.

For more information, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

Operation Green Light will honor nation’s veterans

MAC Board President Stan Ponstein was among those participating in the 2022 edition of Operation Green Light.

America’s counties have a long and proud history of serving our nation’s veterans, a legacy that continues to this day as we work with our federal, state and local partners to ensure that the former service members have access to the resources they need to thrive.   

Once again this Veterans Day (Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023), the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO) invite the nation’s 3,069 counties, parishes, and boroughs to join Operation Green Light and show support for veterans by lighting our buildings green from Nov. 6-12. By shining a green light, county governments and our residents will let veterans know that they are seen, appreciated and supported.  

To show support, counties are encouraged to use this template to pass a resolution declaring your county’s participation in Operation Green Light.

For a variety of materials to publicize and support your Green Light efforts, visit NACo’s resource hub.

 

Revenue Sharing Trust Fund bills clear committee with unanimous support

By a unanimous vote this week, the House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance voted out legislation to create a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, a key MAC priority in 2023.

House Bill 4274, by Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), and HB 4275, by Rep. Mark Tisdel (R-Oakland), would:

  • Create a separate “Revenue Sharing Trust Fund” to receive and hold dollars solely for the purpose of fulfilling the state’s promise to local governments on revenue sharing; and
  • Require that 8 percent of the revenue generated by 4 percentage points of the state’s sales tax rate be sent to that fund.

The result would be $601.1 million in statutory revenue sharing for all local governments across Michigan based on the May Consensus Revenue Estimate for sales tax. 

Counties would receive 46.14 percent of this total in the first year, or $277 million, which would be an increase of nearly $31 million from the current revenue sharing amounts.

“We are thrilled by the unanimous support for the bills today,” MAC’s Deena Bosworth said in a statement to a Capitol news outlet. “The support of the bills’ sponsors and the committee shows a strong commitment by this Legislature to go back to what revenue sharing was always intended to be: the sharing of the state’s revenue with local governments. These bills, if enacted, will provide predictability and certainty for counties so they can better allocate funding to the services they provide.”

MAC has long sought to create stability and fairness in the revenue sharing system by removing the statutory portion of it from the annual appropriations process.

A vote by the full House is expected by the end of September. The bills would then move to the Senate. Similar bills were introduced in the Senate this session as well, so a favorable outcome in the Senate is anticipated. 

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

 

Public Safety Trust Fund bills advance to House floor

Legislation to create a Public Safety Trust Fund, setting aside dollars for cities and townships that may contract with counties for law enforcement services, gained narrow approval in a House committee this week.

House Bill 4605, by Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Macomb) and HB 4606, by Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Wayne), would carve out 1.5 percent of the first 4 percentage points of the state sales tax and dedicate those dollars for the Public Safety and Violence Prevention Fund. 

This carve-out is estimated to yield $110 million for city and township police departments that have violent crimes to contend with. The allocation to each municipality will be based on a three-year average of violent crimes and be disbursed on a proportional basis based on that municipality’s average share of reported crimes statewide. 

While the bills do not directly allocate funding to a county or county sheriff, they do allow for pass-through funds if a county contracts with a municipality to provide policing services. According to preliminary survey results, many counties do not have contracts in place for these services, so MAC is seeking 5 percent of the money scheduled to be allocated to municipalities within the county to be re-allocated to the county sheriff’s office for our support and jail services.

MAC will work with the bill sponsors and advocates to address our concerns, while still supporting the overall effort of creating additional resources to address violent crime.

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

 

MAC-backed PPT reimbursement plans get committee approval

A statutory mechanism to reimburse local governments for funds diverted by an expansion of the Personal Property Tax (PPT) exemption is moving to the House floor after the House Committee on Tax Policy voted out House Bills 4553-54, by Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Kent) and Rep. Denise Mentzer (D-Macomb) respectively.

Expansion of the small business PPT exemption expansion from $80,000 in true cash value to $180,000 in true cash value is expected to cost local governments up to $75 million per year.

The legislation provides a methodology and reimbursement mechanism to reimburse locals, plus make changes to the Michigan Trust Fund Act to create the Local Government Reimbursement Fund in the state Treasury. The state treasurer would then be required to deposit money and assets received under the amendments to the Use Tax Act proposed by HB 4554 or from any other source. The investment of the fund would be directed by the state treasurer, and interest and earnings from those investments would be credited to the fund. Changes to the Use Tax Act would be made to require $75 million in use tax revenue to be deposited into the Local Government Reimbursement Fund each fiscal year, beginning with FY24.

MAC supports these bills and expects them to be enacted prior to the end of 2023. 

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

 

Joint committee hears testimony on Child Care Fund changes

A special joint session of House and Senate committees was held this week to take on House Bills 4624-4629, which change the Child Care Fund (CCF) reimbursement rates and outline mandated risk, mental health and detention screening tools.

MAC supports the reform legislation.

House Bill 4624, by Rep. Christine Morse (D-Kalamazoo), would codify the increase to 75 percent reimbursement for community-based services via the Child Care Fund, along with requiring the use of evidence-based practices, risk and assessment screening tools and more.

The FY24 state budget includes $31.5 million to implement a recommendation from the Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform to statutorily increase the state CCF reimbursement rate to 75 percent from 50 percent for community-based juvenile justice services.

Currently, the reimbursement rate for residential placements and community-based services is at 50 percent. Beginning in FY24, community-based services will be reimbursed at 75 percent, while residential services will remain at a 50 percent reimbursement rate.

As one of the recommendations from the Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, the intent of a 75 percent reimbursement rate for community-based services is to incentivize jurisdictions to utilize community-based services in lieu of incarceration.

The requirements outlined in HB 4624 will NOT be mandated until the bill is signed by the governor — implementation is likely in FY25. The changes to the Child Care Fund requiring the use of research-based practices and risk and needs assessments can increase system consistency, improve equity, and in other states, has led to reduced use of incarceration and cost saving.

To recap: The 75 percent reimbursement rate applies ONLY to community-based services. Residential placement expenses will continue to be reimbursed at 50 percent.

Additional testimony on these bills will take place next week.

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

 

Detroit-backed ‘land value’ tax plan begins legislative journey

Legislation to allow local governments to create a “land value tax,” a concept backed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, was filed and reviewed by a House committee this week.

House Bills 4966 and 496970, by Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit), HB 4967, by Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Eaton), and HB 4968, by Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Wayne), would create the Land Tax Equity Act and make complementary changes to the General Property Tax Act, the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Act, the Income Tax Act and the Tax Reverted Clean Title Act.

The bills were introduced the same day they were heard in the House Committee on Tax Policy.

The concept was pitched by Detroit Mayor Duggan at the Mackinac Policy Conference back in May. The bills would allow cities and local units of government to authorize a land value tax (LVT). The LVT would allow cities and local units of government to put on the ballot a measure to allow for an equivalent land tax rate to be levied on all parcels of land not specifically exempted by the bill. The intent is to reduce the property tax burden on occupied residential properties and increase the tax liability for undeveloped and blighted properties that are bringing down the area and value of the properties around them. 

It is anticipated that action will be taken on the bills before the end of the year. MAC has not yet taken a position on the bills and will be working with our internal policy committee and the Legislature in coming months.

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

 

MAC testifies on reimbursement for veterans exemption

In yest another attempt to secure reimbursement for counties for their losses associated with the 100 percent exemption on property taxes for disabled veterans, MAC testified this week in support of House Bill 4894, by Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Macomb), HB 4895, by Rep. John Roth (R-Grand Traverse), and HB 4896, by Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Kent).

In short, the bills would create a refundable income tax credit for the veterans payable to the local unit of government as the mechanism for reimbursement. 

A vote was not taken on the bills this week due to some language changes necessary to bring the veterans organization fully on board. MAC anticipates movement on the bills in the next several weeks.  

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

 

County-opposed staffing bill gets House committee hearing

A bill to require minimum staffing levels as a mandatory subject of collective bargaining between a public employer and the representative of its employees received a House haring this week.

The House Labor Committee took testimony on House Bill 4688, by Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Calhoun), which is opposed by MAC and the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council, an affiliate of MAC.

The bill would amend the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) and specifies that “other terms and conditions of employment” would include minimum staffing levels within the bargaining unit and consider minimum staffing levels a condition of employment with respect to a bargaining representative’s collective bargaining responsibilities.

Making minimum staffing levels a mandatory topic of collective bargaining could increase staffing costs to counties. In addition to the potential for increased costs, many counties are facing staffing shortages. Implementing minimum staffing requirements when local governments are struggling to maintain fully staffed facilities will add to the difficulties counties already face when recruiting and retaining employees.

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

 

State budget provides dollars for Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System fees

The FY24 state budget includes changes to the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS) attorney fee policy for indigent felony appeals, effective Oct.1, 2023. Moving forward, the MAACS attorney fee vouchers will match Michigan Indigent Defense System hourly rates of $130 to $1142, with local costs offset by a 1:1 state reimbursement. The local obligation, under this cost share, will be $64 to $71 per hour, similar to existing MAACS fees of $50 to $75 per hour in nearly all circuit courts. Any future inflationary increases would also be offset by a 1:1 state reimbursement. For cases still pending on the October 1 effective date, attorney fee vouchers will include new rates.

State funding for private appellate representation for felony and juvenile appeals will allow for quality representation without relying entirely on local budgets. The 1:1 state match will keep local costs consistent for nearly all circuit courts, however, its success depends on participation from circuit courts and their funding units.

MAACS has requested that every circuit court contact maacsvouchers@sado.org with any questions or concerns regarding the new rates or voucher process. Brad Hall, MAACS administrator, can be reached at bhall@sado.org.

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

 

State offers learning sessions on new Materials Management Planning

Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has several opportunities to learn more about Materials Management Planning this fall. As you know, counties have been given the opportunity to draft new plans for managing solid waste and recyclables. Please consider participating in one of the following events to ensure your county is well prepared for the upcoming changes.

Oct. 5, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Understanding and Preparing for Changes to Part 115: Materials Management Planning

In March 2023, amendments to Part 115 of Michigan’s Solid Waste Law went into effect. These amendments have provided a broader approach to handling end-of-life materials including a new Materials Management Plan (Plan). This webinar will describe how the Plan will consider management of solid waste, recyclables, organics, and other related activities. Learn about new requirements, timelines, resources, and technical assistance opportunities that pertain to the Part 115 updates.

Nov. 14, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Tools and Resources to Help Communities Navigate Materials Management

With amendments to Part 115 of Michigan’s Solid Waste Law going into effect earlier this year, now is a great time to learn what tools and resources EGLE offers to communities to assist them with their materials management programs. In this webinar, recycling specialists from EGLE will explain how they are helping Michigan communities navigate the complexities of these program changes. They will also elaborate on available technical assistance and educational services, as well as highlight grant opportunities communities can apply to for help funding successful materials management programs.  

The Michigan Recycling Coalition will be hosting in-person meetings at eight different locations to connect regional stakeholders and provide up-to-date recycling program information. These events will run through September and October:

MRC Regional Meetings – Michigan Recycling Coalition (michiganrecycles.org)

Last, but certainly not least, Christina Miller, Materials Management Planning Specialist from EGLE, will be presenting at the Michigan Counties Annual Conference on Oct. 2 Her session will cover new requirements, timelines, roles, and responsibilities, walk through scenarios, tools and resources, technical assistance opportunities and offer a better understanding of planning and its importance overall.

 

Field set for Board elections at 2023 Annual Conference

Four seats on the MAC Board of Directors will be filled on Oct. 2 at the 2023 Annual Conference.

The commissioners who filed for seats in this cycle are:

  • Region I, Seat B – Joe Bonovetz, Gogebic County (seeking 3rd term)
  • Region II, Seat B – Richard Schmidt, Manistee County (seeking 3rd term)
  • Region III, Seat B – Jim Storey, Allegan County (seeking 3rd term)
  • At-large, Seat B – Stan Ponstein, Kent County (seeking 3rd term)

Although only one candidate filed for each of the four available seats, regional caucuses must be held, per MAC By-laws, to elect the candidate.

The 16-member Board of Directors governs MAC and sets policies for the association. Board terms are three years long and a commissioner may serve a total of three full terms (or 9 years).

Election procedures

  1. Only commissioners who register for the Annual Conference may participate in the regional caucuses that fill these seats.
  2. Regional Board seats are filled by elections in which each COUNTY gets ONE vote. At-large seats are filled with each attending commissioner casting one vote in each caucus; the winning at-large candidate must have majorities in at least four of the six caucuses.

(If you are not sure which Region your county is in, please consult this list.)

To see statements from the candidates, click here.

 

Four seats on the MAC Board of Directors will be filled on Oct. 2 at the 2023 Annual Conference.

The commissioners who filed for seats in this cycle are:

  • Region I, Seat B – Joe Bonovetz, Gogebic County (seeking 3rd term)
  • Region II, Seat B – Richard Schmidt, Manistee County (seeking 3rd term)
  • Region III, Seat B – Jim Storey, Allegan County (seeking 3rd term)
  • At-large, Seat B – Stan Ponstein, Kent County (seeking 3rd term)

Although only one candidate filed for each of the four available seats, regional caucuses must be held, per MAC By-laws, to elect the candidate.

The 16-member Board of Directors governs MAC and sets policies for the association. Board terms are three years long and a commissioner may serve a total of three full terms (or 9 years).

Election procedures

  1. Only commissioners who register for the Annual Conference may participate in the regional caucuses that fill these seats.
  2. Regional Board seats are filled by elections in which each COUNTY gets ONE vote. At-large seats are filled with each attending commissioner casting one vote in each caucus; the winning at-large candidate must have majorities in at least four of the six caucuses.

Each candidate provided a statement of candidacy with their filing. See below. (If you are not sure which region your county is in, please consult this list.)

The candidates

Region I

Joe Bonovetz, Gogebic County

I have been on the MAC Board for six years, and I am a member of every board that is made up of all 15 Upper Peninsula counties, including UPCAP UP Michigan Works and UP Legislative Coalition.

I also serve on the NorthCare Board that oversees mental health services and funding to all UP CMH offices. I am chairman of the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region that serves six western UP counties with economic and planning resources. I speak up at the MAC Board meetings to represent the UP.

I am asking for your support at the Annual Conference in October. It will be an excellent conference that you should all attend.

Region II

Richard Schmidt, Manistee County

I am seeking re-election to the MAC Board, for many reasons.

One reason is MAC gives me an opportunity to bring Northern Michigan ideas to Lansing. Another reason is the ability to learn from other commissioners.

Finally, I would be able to continue to work on MAC committees that benefit all citizens. By serving on MAC committees, I noticed that Northern Michigan had not been there to explain their rural position on many issues.

Working with other commissioners gives me the opportunity to learn what may work in my own county and what could happen if we were to implement certain policies. This saves money for my county and others.

Having contributed to the success of MAC by working with my alliances like West Michigan Alliance and Northern Michigan Counties Association, I believe I have the skills, knowledge and background to qualify me for re-election to the MAC Board.

Region III

Jim Storey, Allegan County

My time on the MAC Board of Directors has enriched my understanding and appreciation of the 83 counties our association serves with foresight and dedication. This service has given me greater understanding of the crucial role MAC plays in ensuring each of our counties has the tools to serve our residents in a cost-effective manner.

Going forward, the MAC Board needs to build upon the successes of the past few years, using the newly lengthened terms of commissioners, to enhance the responsibility and resources provided counties to serve residents.

Counties, the original regional government in Michigan, have great opportunity to streamline the organization and cost of local government. This is, in part, due to the respect and trust MAC staffers have earned in the State Capitol and, in part, to the active participation of member commissioners.

Embracing opportunities to enhance the status and leadership of counties when those opportunities emerge is one of the primary duties of a board member. Working with the staff, seeking those opportunities will be a constant goal for me.

At-large

Stan Ponstein, Kent County

I will cut to the chase: I am running for my third and final term (term limits) on the MAC Board as one of your at-large directors. As a former school board trustee and city councilman, and a current Kent County commissioner, I have an appreciation for public service for the past 43 years.

During my service on the MAC Board, including this past year as your President, I have gained a better appreciation for the Michigan Association of Counties and everything we stand and advocate for on behalf of our residents.

I am asking for your support once again to serve not just the county I reside in, but all 83 counties. I have always been a strong supporter for all counties that make Michigan “Pure Michigan.” That will never stop.

We have had challenges in the past and will in the future. I will always stand for what is in our collective best interest in a bipartisan collaboration. I will also advocate for counties who have a unique issue to them that need the strength of our organization standing with them.

MAC, under the leadership of Executive Director Stephan Currie, has assembled a team of qualified professionals that represent and advocate for everyone. MAC has become one of the most respected organizations in our state and continues to be a partner with the state government to ensure the best outcomes for our constituents. I stand with them.

As we look back at the previous 125 years, let’s look forward to making our organization stronger than ever in the next 125 years. We can only do that together.

Conference early-bird prices end at 5 p.m. today

County leaders wishing to attend the 2023 Annual Conference, Oct. 1-3 in Kalamazoo County, have until 5 p.m. today (Sept. 8) to utilize the early-bird price of $415 for members.

Starting tomorrow, a full conference registration will cost a member $490.

In other conference news, the performance team of  “Yellow Brick Dueling Pianos” will be the entertainment after the annual President’s Banquet on Oct. 2. This group was chosen for its high-energy approach to audience participation.

Registration for the event, which will celebrate MAC’s 125th Anniversary, is online only:

In honor of MAC’s anniversary year, the annual President’s Banquet will be capped by music and dancing in the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.

Additional highlights for this year’s event are:

  • A keynote from Jeff Butler, a workforce strategist specializing in bridging generational issues in the workplace
  • A two-part, two-day dive into the details of Public Act 51, the state’s road funding formula via workshops held on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning
  • A plenary session on Michigan’s affordable housing crisis
  • MAC’s Annual Business Meeting, during which members will review and approve MAC’s policy platforms for the coming year

The schedule of the conference is carefully crafted to respect members’ weekly schedule, with conference registration opening around noon Sunday and events concluding prior to hotel check-out on Tuesday morning.

Commissioners who attend the conference will earn 3 credit hours for MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.

Click here for a full Agenda

 

House committee considers bills to add judges in Kent and Macomb counties

Macomb County would get a new probate judge and Kent County a new district judge under legislation reviewed this week by the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee heard testimony on House Bills 4823 and 4920, by Rep. Doug Wozniak (R-Macomb) and Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Kent) respectively.

HB 4823 would add a third judge to the Macomb Probate Court, while HB 4920 would add a judge to the 63rd District Court in Kent County. However, the Kent addition would still need approval from the Kent County Board of Commissioners if the bill becomes law. After approval from the Kent Board, an election would have to be held in 2024 to fill the new slot.

Committee Chair Kelly Breen (D-Oakland) said the committee will likely vote on the bills at its next session.

MAC supports these bills, as does the State Court Administrator’s Office.

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

 

Frequently asked questions on opioid settlements documents released

Two new documents have been released to assist counties around the opioid settlements. MAC helped create the documents in collaboration with the Opioid Advisory Commission; the Michigan Departments of Attorney General, Civil Rights, Corrections and Treasury; and the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association.

The Michigan Opioid Settlement Funds Part I: Key Agencies and Settlements document outlines which agencies are involved in the settlement work and provides and overview of all national settlements coming to Michigan.

The Michigan Opioid Settlement Funds Part II: Frequently Asked Questions document answers questions commonly asked by local governments, providers and the general public.

For more information on this issue, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

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