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

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

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

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

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

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

All events are free.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Treasury releases information on finalizing Interim Final Report on COVID aid

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

Key points include:

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

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

 

Podcast 83 returns to live sessions Monday; register now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supreme Court sets Sept. 22 hearing on court rules

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

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

 

August Michigan Counties looks at juvenile justice, policing reforms

County commissioners and administrators will soon receive the August edition of Michigan Counties, MAC’s bimonthly magazine, in their mailboxes. The latest edition features a report on juvenile justice changes and MAC’s advocacy work around them and a briefing from the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association on policing reform bills in the Michigan Legislature.

Also included in this edition are:

  • A letter from MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt as she completes her term as leader of the association
  • A report from MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie
  • Bios of MAC Board Directors Robert Showers and Joe Bonovetz
  • A Q&A with Rep. Kevin Hertel of Macomb County
  • An analysis of Michigan’s tax system by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan
  • News briefs from around Michigan

To view a digital copy of the August edition or prior ones, visit the magazine page on the MAC website.

 

MAC offices to observe Labor Day holiday

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Monday, Sept. 6 in observance of the Labor Day holiday.

Normal office hours will resume at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

 

Assisted Outpatient Treatment is topic of next MDHHS webinar

A Sept. 28 webinar will feature information on “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” and its use and benefits in Genesee County.

The webinar, which will run from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., is free for county leaders due to funding from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Click here to register.

The webinar will have keynote addresses by Administrator Emeritus Milton Mack (SCAO) and Dr. Debra Pinals (medical director of behavioral health and forensic programming for MDHHS). It will be moderated by Chief Justice Bridget McCormick.

Genesee County is recognized as one of the Michigan counties that has operationalized and seen the benefits that AOT can offer. Representatives from Genesee County’s Probate Court, Law Enforcement, Natural Support, Hospital System and CMH will serve on the webinar panel to share their AOT experiences with other Michigan communities.

These trainings are co-sponsored by MAC affiliate members the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association and the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan.

For additional information, contact J. Eric Waddell at jericwaddell@thecardinalgroup2.com.

 

Governor, legislators set key parameter for FY22 budget totals

In a welcome move, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders resumed negotiations this week and agreed upon target numbers for each departmental budget bill for fiscal year 2022, which begins Oct. 1. Although many details still have to be worked out, the overall spending amount and the most important priorities for funds have been hashed out.

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

The spending of the COVID-19 relief funds will be moved through a series of supplemental bills this fall. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Stamas (R-Midland) and Vice Chair Curtis Hertel (D-Ingham) are optimistic the budget will be completed and signed by the governor before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year.

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

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

 

MAC-backed coalition urges legislative leaders to fund ARP matching program

A coalition that includes MAC, other government groups and representatives of the business community sent a letter this week urging legislative leaders to back a proposal for a state matching program for American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

The coalition, which also includes the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association, is asking that $3.9 billion in ARP funds sent to the state of Michigan seed a matching program to invest, leverage and amplify the influx of federal funding to leverage all levels of local government to reach our common goals.

Michigan will receive more than $10 billion in fiscal recovery aid, with all 83 counties slated to get $1.9 billion in direct aid alone. Cities and larger townships will receive $1.8 billion and non-entitlement communities approximately $644 million. The state of Michigan itself is receiving more than $6.5 billion. By working together, we can strategically invest these one-time dollars in areas of greatest need for improvement.

The ARP match program will provide Michigan with the ability to make unprecedented investments in:

  • Water infrastructure and broadband
  • Local capacity and fiscal stability
  • Housing and community development
  • Comprehensive economic development
  • Public health and safety

The framework lays the foundation for a stronger recovery by creating multi-sector partnerships between communities, state leaders, interest groups, business, and philanthropy to accelerate the impact of one-time fiscal recovery funds.

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

 

ARP message to counties: Do best you can with interim report due Aug. 31

During a Wednesday afternoon digital briefing, the National Association of Counties advised state associations that their member counties should focus on two key points as they prepare their interim ARP reports due on Aug. 31:

  • First, this is not a final report, but an interim one. Treasury is expecting changes down the line. These reports can be updated later through the quarterly or annual report.
  • Second, Treasury is only asking that county leaders do the best they can in filing these reports. These reports can be updated later through the quarterly or annual report.


Resources

This week, the U.S. Treasury released a recorded presentation providing a walkthrough of the reporting portal covering both upcoming reports. This includes the one-time Interim Report, which all counties are required to submit to the U.S. Treasury by Aug.31, 2021, AND the Recovery Plan Performance Report, which only counties with populations above 250,000 residents are required to submit to the U.S. Treasury by Aug. 31, 2021.

The U.S. Treasury has released a number of other webinars covering targeted topics related to the Recovery Fund and have notified NACo that they will continue to offer such assistance in the future. The webinars can be found here.

Additionally, counties must refer to the Compliance and Reporting Guidance as well as the User Guide for a complete understanding of the information they are required to submit.

You can also visit NACo’s Recovery Fund Resource Hub for more information related to reporting. If your counties are having issues with the reporting portal, please send them to Eryn Hurley at ehurley@naco.org.

MAC’s CoProPlus subsidiary also is offering consulting services for counties seeking expert assistance in handling ARP funds. Click here to learn more.

And as always, be sure to check for updates on MAC’s ARP Resources Page.

 

Filing closes for MAC Board slots; contest arises for Region 2 seat

Commissioners who attend the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference (Sept. 26-28 on Mackinac Island) will vote in elections to fill five seats on the MAC Board of Directors.

Filing for those seats closed on Thursday. The following individuals filed:

  • Region 1 — Joe Stevens, Dickinson County, incumbent
  • Region 2 — Neil Ahrens, Emmet County; Christian Marcus, Antrim County, incumbent
  • Region 3 — Phil Kuyers, Ottawa County, incumbent
  • Region 5 — Eileen Kowall, Oakland County, incumbent
  • At-large — Melissa Daub, Wayne County

Seats representing regions are filled by a vote in regional caucuses at the conference. At-large seats are filled by the candidate that wins a majority of the six regional caucuses, which will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27. Commissioners attending the conference will receive additional information on the voting process in their conference bags.

MAC will be creating a webpage with candidate information in early September. Be sure to keep an eye on www.micounties.org for it.

 

MIDC survey participants warn against premature funding changes

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) has approved a local share study, required by statute to be submitted to the Legislature by October. The MIDC contracted with Public Sector Consultants to review the current local share formula and conduct stakeholder interviews.

Study participants largely fell into two categories when asked about types of funding systems: support for full state funding or maintaining the current funding structure, in which funding is a combined effort between the State and local systems. MAC and county stakeholders were part of a focus group that reminded evaluators that the 1978 Headlee Amendment was the impetus behind the current formula, and it would be nearly impossible to identify any other funding structure that does not violate the Michigan Constitution.

The report makes note of the Headlee issue and, in large part, suggests any changes to the formula would be premature as implementation of the MIDC process and standards are only a few years old. The report states, “Other participants used stronger language, labeling a reevaluation and potential formula amendment as a ‘reckless’ undertaking that could ‘collapse’ the current system.”

Overall, the report recommendations were to delay formula amendments, which MAC supports. Also made were recommendations to explore further regionalization efforts, require reimbursement collection reporting and establish a reevaluation timeline. In conclusion, the report states, “Participants during all phases of this project have conceded that while the funding formula may not be perfect or final, altering it now would be a disservice to local jurisdictions and the defendants they serve.”

The full report can be found here, beginning on page 63.

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

 

Michigan AG signs on to opioid settlement

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has officially signed on to a proposed multi-billion-dollar national opioid settlement with Johnson & Johnson and the three largest pharmaceutical distributors in the country: Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen.  

Nessel’s office called the agreement “historic” and “result of ongoing efforts to hold these companies responsible for their roles in contributing to the opioid epidemic gripping this country.” 

Her office added: “Depending on the allocation metrics and participation of local units of government, Michigan stands to receive up to nearly $800 million from these defendants over the life of the settlement, with priority placed on spending for treatment and prevention. Only the 1998 national tobacco settlement has involved more dollars than this proposed settlement.

“The state deadline to join the settlement is Saturday, Aug. 21. Next, the defendants will evaluate the extent of state sign-ons and determine if they wish to continue the process. They have up to 14 days to do that. If the defendants decide enough states have signed on, then the process moves to the local government sign-on period, which is 120 days. Following that timeframe, the defendants will determine if enough local governments have signed on to move forward.”

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

 

Don’t delay another day on registration for Annual Conference

With more than 300 people now registered to attend the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference, county leaders who are not registered should do so immediately.

Why?

First, available rooms at the historic Grand Hotel are dwindling. Also, the discounted room deal for the event will expire on Aug. 26. After that, room nights at the Grand will be substantially higher than the amounts you now can see on our conference portal.

Second, MAC has made a special extension of the early-bird conference pricing of $375 for members; this extension, though, lasts only through Aug. 31.

Also continuing is the special deal for the conference with Shepler’s Ferry service. Attendees will able to travel to Mackinac Island from either of Shepler’s locations in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace for a roundtrip price of $21 ($12 for children). You can make your reservation via Shepler’s website (www.sheplersferry.com) using the promo code MCMCFC2021 or by calling 800-828-6157 and referencing the MAC/MCMCFC conference.

Don’t delay. Get registered today.

For specific questions on conference logistics, you may contact conference@micounties.org.

 

Senate trio bidding to allow Medicaid benefits for jail inmates

A bipartisan trio of U.S. senators will introduce legislation to address the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP). U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said they would be introducing the Due Process Continuity of Care Act, which would amend the MIEP to allow individuals who have not yet been convicted of a crime to keep their Medicaid benefits.

Under current federal law, health benefits are denied to individuals in jail awaiting adjunction with no differentiation between other individuals who are serving time post-conviction. Nationally, local jails admit 11 million people a year, with 60 percent in the pre-trial phase and a large portion qualifying for Medicaid. The current ban on their use of Medicaid benefits puts a large administrative and financial burden on local jails and taxpayers who take on the costs of care for the inmate.

The legislation would allow for Medicaid coverage for pretrial detainees and provide $50 million in planning grants and technical assistance to state and local governments for implementation. The Due Process Continuity of Care Act will be introduced this September.

MAC supports this concept and will continue to monitor the legislation’s progress through Congress.

For more information on this issue, see this National Association of Counties report or contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

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