Filing period opens for MAC Board elections at Annual Conference

County commissioners interested in serving on the MAC Board of Directors have until Aug. 23, 2024, to file for elections to fill five seats on the Board at the 2024 Michigan Counties Annual Conference.

The elections will be held on Sept. 25 at the conference at the Grand Traverse Resort. To be an official candidate, commissioners must file official notice of their intent to run. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2024.

Four seats available represent regions, so will be decided by a vote in that specific region. The at-large seat is determined by votes in all six MAC regions.

To download an application form, go to https://bit.ly/2024appform.

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 2024 Annual Conference:

  • Region I, Seat A (Open seat)
  • Region II, Seat A (Bryan Kolk of Newaygo County is the incumbent)
  • Region III, Seat A (Rick Shaffer of St. Joseph County is the incumbent)
  • Region V, Seat B (Sarah Lucido of Macomb County is the incumbent)
  • At-large, Seat C (Melissa Daub of Wayne County is the incumbent)

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.

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.

 

Prisoner release credit bills get first look in Senate

Legislation to allow certain prisoners to earn productivity credits to reduce their sentence received its first hearing this week in the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety.

Senate Bills 861864 would only apply to future sentences in allowing prisoners to receive productivity credits. Under the legislation, prosecutors are required to notify victims at the time of sentencing that an earlier release date is possible, if the offender completes productivity credits.  

While completing productivity credits would deem a prisoner eligible for early release, the parole board will still make final decisions regarding release dates, with final discretion remaining with judges and prosecutors.  

SBs 861-864 would remove truth-in-sentencing, leaving many victims of crime with uncertainty regarding the minimum sentence their offender would serve.

MAC is opposing the legislation, alongside the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

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

 

Bill to expand options for opioid ‘antagonists’ gets Senate hearing

Legislation to expand the available options of opioid “antagonists,” or medication that blocks the effects of opioids, to local governments and others received a hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Policy this week.

Senate Bill 542 would allow a government entity that received an opioid antagonist from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) at no cost to choose the formulation, type of delivery service, method of administration or dosage of the opioid antagonist. The ability to decide on formulation or dosage only applies if the formulation or dosage chosen would not result in a loss of Federal funding.

Counties currently can utilize the MDHHS naloxone (an opioid antagonist) portal to access naloxone at no cost. SB 542 expands the type of opioid antagonist available to government entities through the MDHHS portal.

MAC supports SB 542 and efforts to expand resources to counties for reduction, treatment and prevention of the opioid epidemic.

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

 

Targets set, legislative sessions in question

All budget subcommittee chairs, save those responsible for the School Aid budget, have received their target numbers for their respective fiscal 2025 budgets. Targets are key to negotiating the final version of state budget between the legislative chambers and the administration and setting them is the next to last step to completing the budget for the year starting Oct. 1.

Following the negotiations between chambers to rectify the differences in their budget bills is the passage of the bills in conference committees, with both chambers set to take a concurrence vote. The major hold-up has been the battle between the parties on $670 million that the Democrats want to use to fund the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS). By allocating these dollars to MPSERS, school employees would be relieved of paying 3 percent of their salaries to cover retiree health care.

Should the chambers agree to allocate this $670 million, the Republicans in the Senate, however, may not be willing to join Democrats in granting immediate effect to the budget, meaning the Legislature would have to adjourn sine die early for the budget bills to take effect by Oct. 1.  We faced this same issue last year during budget negotiations and a messy dispute was avoided. But this year is an election year for the House and the Republicans could disrupt any plans the Democrats have for “lame duck” sessions in late 2024 by forcing an early adjournment.

More will be known next week when the Legislature is supposed to vote on budget bills.

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

 

Clock is ticking on compliance with energy siting law, expert tells Podcast 83

County officials need to be taking concrete actions now to prepare for the November implementation of a controversial state law on siting renewable energy facilities, a University of Michigan analyst told Podcast 83 in a new episode.

“If you hire outside legal counsel, or if you have outside planning experts, like you need to get them on retainer now because everybody is going to be changing their ordinances between August and the end of the year,” said Sarah Mills of the university’s Center for EmPowering Communities.

Public Act 233 was adopted in 2023 despite opposition from MAC and others due to its assault on local control by giving ultimate authority on siting decisions to the unelected Public Service Commission (PSC).

In a wide-ranging discussion with host Stephan Currie and MAC’s Madeline Fata, Mills explained that the law still leaves local governments with responsibilities ― and opportunities.

“One of the things that’s really important is to think about what the law does, and what it doesn’t do,” Mills said. “So zoning is still in effect; local governments can still zone for renewables. It’s just for those biggest projects. So solar projects that are over about 400 acres, wind projects that are like 330 or so and then energy storage projects, which we don’t have very many of right now. But this kind of scale of project that we’re talking about is something that could be on as little as five acres of land.”

Mills noted that the PSC will be issuing its final draft recommendations on how to implement the law on June 21, then the body will take feedback on them (click here to see where to provide such feedback) before issuing the final official plan around Aug. 9.

In the meantime, Mills said, counties need to decide whether they’ll adopt an ordinance at all, a compatible renewable energy ordinance (CREO) or a workable ordinance that allows locals to set criteria outside of the law but that might still be attractive to developers.

View the full episode, recorded on June 4, 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 booth at MAC conferences sparks $250,000 in potential repayments

A booth at MAC’s 2024 Legislative Conference has started the process for claims that could mean thousands of dollars in currently unclaimed property.

Twenty-one claims were established by the Michigan Department of Treasury staff at the conference after they performed 64 searches on April 29 during the first day of the conference. Treasury says the total amount being claimed, both by individuals and counties themselves, is $172,300.

This is on top of the $90,225 in claims begun via a similar booth at MAC’s 2023 Annual Conference last fall.

For those who have questions about their claim status, call Treasury’s claim assistance line at 517-636-5320 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday-Friday.

 

NACo academy can help your key employees hone their skills

Strengthen your team and improve your county’s future performance by giving your emerging all-stars — or yourself — an opportunity to level up.

Do you oversee program directors or other managers that you’d like to catapult into progressively more responsibility and growing effectiveness? Then send them through the National Association of Counties’ High Performance Leadership Academy, a virtual course that will run from Aug. 6 to Nov. 8.

Attendees will learn to plan, lead and sustain positive innovations across county government in the context of growing uncertainty and cascading challenges.

The 12-week course uses real-time webinars, self-paced activities and cohort-based learning, totaling about five hours per week. Request more information for your county at www.naco.org/skills today!

 

Staff picks

MAC releases huge survey report on opioid settlement funds

MAC is excited to announce the updating of the MAC Opioid Settlement Dashboard and the release of the Michigan County Opioid Settlement Reporting: Data Overview.

The Michigan County Opioid Settlement Reporting: Data Overview and the related MAC Opioid Settlement Dashboard are the product of months of work with Michigan’s 83 counties, which are now in the process of deploying millions of dollars derived from various legal settlements with drug manufacturers. Between now and 2040, those settlements will result in $800 million for Michigan counties.

“This is the first and only comprehensive picture of what is happening at the county level in Michigan,” said MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie. “It results from our ongoing partnership with Vital Strategies, a global public health organization, to aid our members to make the most of this historic opportunity to aid those struggling with substance use disorder.”

Data included on the dashboard and in the report are pulled from the Annual Opioid Settlement County Reporting Survey. The survey was administered between April and May of 2024 and was intended to capture data associated with calendar year 2023. Information collected included county activities associated with planning efforts, stakeholder engagement, management of funds and spending.

“Most counties are focused on thoughtful planning efforts to ensure funds are used in meaningful ways while understanding the urgency of drug overdose crisis,” said Amy Dolinky, the technical adviser who led the survey work. MAC is expecting to do annual surveys to gauge changes over time and continued updating of the dashboard and reporting.

Seventy-seven percent of counties responded to the survey, allowing for the most comprehensive picture of local government efforts associated with opioid settlement funds available.

County leaders can learn more about the report and the latest on opioid planning by attending the 2024 Policy Summit on June 25 in Lansing or via Zoom. For details, including registration, click here.

For questions or for technical assistance, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

Economic development vote pulls rug out from under locals

A huge state fund for community investments, accessible by counties and others, was suddenly and unexpectedly eliminated from legislation in a House committee this week.

The House Committee on Economic Development and Small Business adopted substitute bills that eliminate the proposed “Michigan 360” program.

The prior versions of Senate Bills 559, by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland) and 562, by Mary Cavanaugh (D-Wayne) would have created “Michigan 360” as part of a revamp of the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund.  “Michigan 360” would have dedicated funds for local housing, infrastructure, regional transit, job training, business assistance and child care development.

The state’s current economic development programs, which traditionally have focused on winning large corporate investments, have been criticized in recent years because the return on investment was unclear and because they failed to recognize the needs of the communities the companies were going in to.

MAC opposes the abandonment of the Michigan 360 program and sees it as a step backward for economic development. Businesses need talent and talent needs attractive, functional and affordable places to live, work and play. This turn of events is likely due to continued budget negotiations and concerns over the amount of funds available for the program.

MAC will continue to urge restoration of the program as the bills move through the legislative process.

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

 

Contentious election bills advance in Senate on party-line vote

An amended version of the “Michigan Voting Rights Act,” Senate Bills 401-404, passed the Senate Elections and Ethic Committee this week with all Democrats voting yes and Republican members voting no. The bills are meant to bolster federal law and voting rights in the state for members of a protected class and for disabled electors and locals have expressed support for this concept. However, the practical implementation and potential legal liability are quite troublesome for county governments.

Under the initial proposal, a member of a protected class could file a complaint with a local unit of government if they felt impaired from participating in elections or the political process. Many of the listed impairments are beyond the control of a local government or conflict with existing election laws.

MAC participated in workgroups with bill sponsors, Senate policy staff, clerks and other local government associations. Many changes were made, including the creation of a fund for the reimbursement of legal fees, softer language to ensure malintent is evident and certain stipulations for meetings between plaintiffs and defendants.

MAC appreciates the many concessions that sponsors made in acknowledgement of county concerns. However, MAC does not have a position on the bills, as we remain uneasy about exposing locals to frivolous legal challenges and placing additional burdens on local clerks. The bills are expected to be scheduled for a full Senate prior to the Legislature’s summer recess.

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

 

MAC joins call to reset state course on mental health services

A state plan to alert delivery of mental health services should be considered, MAC and one of its affiliates said this week.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has proposed new requirements for those utilizing mental health services through the public mental health system. These proposals, a result of the federal Conflict Free-Access and Planning (CFAP) guidelines, would create service delays, additional costs to providers and barriers to access for individuals seeking care from the public mental health system.

County commissioners may receive requests from their local Community Mental Health organization or PIHP to adopt resolutions opposing the proposed changes regarding CFAP from MDHHS and urging collaboration between MDHHS and the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan (CMHA), a MAC affiliate. (Download a CMHAM resolution template here.)

CMHA’s alternative to MDHHS’ plan better fits the needs of Michigan’s public health system and its patients.

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

 

Map of inland lakes

Bill to ease county burden on setting lake levels advances

Legislation to help counties streamline the setting of inland lake levels advanced to the House floor this week.

Senate Bill 662, by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Oakland), which cleared the House Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation this week, redefines “normal lake level” to allow for temporary fluctuations caused by weather conditions and water control structure construction or repair activities. The current statute and recent court decision to require counties to maintain a static lake level or to petition circuit courts to amend lake level orders when deviations occur result in a time-consuming and costly process.

SB 662 would improve this process by retroactively changing the definition to include the variations. By broadening the definition, counties and lake level districts should be able to avoid unnecessary lawsuits and repeated court proceedings, ultimately conserving both financial and administrative resources. The bill is supported by the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners, a MAC affiliate, and the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and Environment.

There are 62,798 inland lakes in Michigan with a surface area of at least 0.1 acres or larger. Michigan enjoys 1,300 square miles of inland lakes or 1.3 percent of Michigan’s total area. (mymlsa.org)

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

 

Counties would gain flexibility on drain maintenance under bill before House

Legislation to ease financial limitations on the maintenance of drains was voted out of a House committee this week.

The House Committee on Local Government voted out House Bill 5188, by Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), which increases the statutory cap on drain maintenance. Current law limits the amount of maintenance work drain commissioners can perform on a single drain in a year to $5,000 per mile. This bill would raise that to $10,000 per mile per year and then allow the cap to rise with inflation each year.

The rise in construction costs and the impact of extreme weather events necessitate the increase, argue advocates. Whether the existing drainage system is an open channel ditch/watercourse or an enclosed underground system, much of the necessary maintenance of drainage infrastructure cannot be efficiently done now, causing drain commissioners to maintain smaller sections each year and redeploying equipment and personnel in subsequent years to properly maintain the drain.

HB 5188 now moves to the House floor.

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

 

Podcast 83: County hiring legislation, mobility funding in the spotlight

While the Legislature’s work on the fiscal 2025 state budget remains behind closed doors, MAC’s advocates at the State Capitol have been shepherding forward policy reforms to boost county hiring, investments in public services and assist jurors.

Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie and guests Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on policy in Lansing in the podcast’s newest episode on June 11.

County hiring legislation

“(House Bill 5203) would allow those counties that have their own retirement system that are not a member of MERS … to rehire sheriff’s people for the sheriff’s department. And MAC was supportive of the endeavor (since) all those counties that are in the MERS system already have that ability. But it was those 13 counties that are not in that system that this would extend that ability to them,” Bosworth explained.

MAC worked to expand the legislation, though, so it can be used to bolster employment in other departments. “There are situations where you’ve got experts who have retired and the county really needs to bring them back without any significant limitations on it,” Bosworth noted.

MAC’s expectation is HB 5203 will clear the Senate committee this week and may reach the governor’s desk for signature before the Legislature leaves Lansing for the summer.

Economic/public investment strategies

The lion’s share of legislative attention in Lansing right now surrounds a Democratic proposal to revamp the state’s economic development strategic into a two-pronged approach that could mean billions of dollars for mobility investments by local governments.

The complicated legislative package involves bills from both the Senate (SBs 599/562) and House (HBs 5768-70) that are “tie-barred,” or required to move together.

A major portion of the work of interest to MAC, “Michigan 360,” was suddenly and unexpectedly junked this week, Bosworth said.

What remains is the “Michigan Mobility Trust Fund,” which would be provided with $200 million a year for 10 years, for total of $2 billion. Local governments will be eligible for these funds, as would regional transit authorities and public transportation providers.

Juror compensation

“So, a while back, a jury reform task force met and came up with a set of policy recommendations,” said Gibson. “House Bills 5689-5693 do a wide variety of things to reform the jury process; but most importantly to counties is the bills would increase the hourly rate that you would receive as a juror, and it ties it to minimum wage.

“That in and of itself, not an issue. The issue lies in what’s called the juror compensation fund. That is quickly dwindling. … So, when you have an ever-decreasing pot of money, and an attempt to increase the hourly rate that jurors are receiving, it begs the question: Who is then responsible for making up the difference? …

“(M)y goal is to ensure that that responsibility does not fall onto the county,” Gibson added.

Negotiations continue on the bills, which won’t be taken up until the fall.

View the full episode, recorded on June 11, 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.

 

Asset council seeks award nominees

The Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) is seeking agencies and individuals to recognize for their efforts in asset management and best practices.

The TAMC has established the Organizational Achievement Award to acknowledge those agencies that have incorporated the principles of asset management and adopted an asset management plan to help guide their investment decisions. In addition, the TAMC Awards Program provides agencies around the state with excellent examples to establish their own programs and practices. All Public Act 51 road agencies are eligible to be nominated for this award.

See criteria here.

The TAMC also wants to recognize individuals providing outstanding support of asset management and the TAMC. Nominees for the Carmine Palombo Individual Achievement Award can include elected officials (state or local), support staff from state agencies, regional and metropolitan planning organizations, county road agencies, local units of government, the education community or other individuals involved in promoting asset management in Michigan.

MAC and its members are represented on the TAMC by Kelly Jones, managing director of the Ingham County Road Department.

Submissions are due on June 21, 2024, to Gloria Strong, TAMC departmental technician, at Strongg@Michigan.gov. Direct questions to 517-402-3599.

 

Staff picks

 

MAC extends support to huge economic development package

MAC gave its support this week at the State Capitol to legislation to revamp state economic development spending.

Senate Bills 559, by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland) and 562, by Mary Cavanaugh (D-Wayne) would amend the Michigan Strategic Fund Act and the Michigan Trust Fund Act to alter how the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund works.

The Make it in Michigan Fund would have a new program, “Michigan 360,” which would dedicate funds for local housing, infrastructure, regional transit, job training, business assistance and child care development. The state’s current development programs, which traditionally have focused on winning large corporate investments, have been criticized in recent years because the return on investment was unclear and because they failed to recognize the needs of the communities the companies were going in to. 

In a House committee hearing this week, the bill sponsors and advocates stressed the need to attract talent and provide attractive and functional places for this talent the businesses need to thrive. SB 559 allows for investment directly into the communities where businesses would be located. Advocates argue that business attraction requires more than just financial incentive, they need available talent, transit, housing, education and child care to attract such talent.

SB 562 requires that 50 percent of the money deposited into the Make it in Michigan Fund be allocated for “Michigan 360.”

For the $750 million anticipated to be in “Michigan 360,” eligible applicants would include counties, cities and townships, education institutions, nonprofits, local economic development corporations and the land bank fast track authority.

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

 

MAC leaders to study $2B transport trust fund proposal

A $6 billion economic development package with a focus on public transit was unveiled before a House panel this week.

House Bill 5770, by Rep. Mike McFall (D-Oakland), creates the Michigan Mobility Trust Fund, dedicating $2 billion ($200 million per year for 10 years) toward public transportation and “transformational mobility projects.” The funding comes from a reconfiguration of the governor’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve, or SOAR fund, with revenue being generated by corporate income tax. The other $4 billion in the package will go toward housing, placemaking, and traditional economic development incentives for attracting businesses.

Local governments and transit authorities will be eligible to receive funding for a variety of projects. The intent is to promote economic development by attracting talent and businesses to areas with robust public transportation networks.

In the past, 100 percent of SOAR funding went directly toward big businesses. This new distribution and the creation of the Mobility Trust Fund will benefit local governments more directly and could shape communities in a more tangible way, advocates argue.

MAC has not taken a position on the package, but it will be reviewed at the next meeting of MAC’s Transportation Policy Committee.

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

 

Judicial protection legislation concerns county registers of deeds

County departments may need to conceal judge’s personal information under proposed legislation. House Bill 5724, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland), would allow a judge to request their personal information, including street address, phone number, and tax id number, be shielded from the public.

This bill would codify federal legislation at the state level. The initial legislation was crafted in response to the 2020 murder of federal Judge Esther Salas’ son at their family home. Judge Salas testified virtually at the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Judges often determine the fate of a person’s life or family, making them targets for disgruntled defendants or attorneys.

Under HB 5724, a judge would need to submit a written request to a public body to prevent disclosure of or remove a public posting or display of certain personal identifying information. Should a public body fail to comply, the judge could commence a civil action to compel compliance. The Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds testified to the technical complications of implementing such legislation. Breen, serving as both bill sponsor and chair of the committee, expressed a willingness to work on amendments so it is more practical for public bodies to adhere to.

MAC has not taken a position on the legislation but will continue to track its movement.

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

 

Podcast 83: Back from island, Legislature still has budget to finish

With legislative activity largely squelched last week due to the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, lawmakers return to Lansing this week with lots of budget and policy matters still on their plate.

Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie discussed with guests Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson what the next “20 to 30 days” will look like at the State Capitol in the latest episode of Podcast 83.

Budgets/revenue sharing

“We are waiting for them to finalize each and every one of their budgets,” Bosworth said, including those that affect MAC’s proposal for a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund.

Negotiations continue over the differing approaches taken by the House and Senate, with MAC strongly favoring the Senate approach, which would mean a $52 million boost in the first year for counties, Bosworth explained.

County hiring rules

“At a Senate Local Government Committee meeting tomorrow, they’re going to take up House Bill 5203,” Bosworth said. MAC is backing an amendment to expand the bill’s provisions to allow any county department, not just sheriffs, to rehire retirees without the retiree’s benefits being jeopardized. “We know how hard it is for county government right now to hire. And sometimes you need that expertise in different departments to come back and help teach new generations of employees. So we’re hopeful that that gets moved to the process this week.”

Medicaid coverage for jail inmates

“Something we’ve talked about at length at the policy summit last December and on this podcast is the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy,” said Gibson. “The (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) is in the process of applying for what’s called the Section 1115 Re-entry Waiver, which would allow county jail inmates, juvenile detention, detainees and then also MDOC inmates to have their uninsured health care costs covered; they would have otherwise been eligible for Medicaid upon incarceration, but you’re no longer eligible, which as we know, is incredibly costly to counties. MDHHS is in the third step of their six-step process towards applying and implementing the waiver approval. … So they’re chugging along, And there’s that $30.5 million proposal in the governor’s and House’s budget plans to cover the uninsured costs of jail inmates.”

Voting regulations

“Something kind of bigger that I do anticipate movement before they break for the summer is Michigan Voting Rights Act package. We’ve had some stakeholder meetings with the Senate policy team, and we received new drafts just this morning (June 3). So I do believe that they’ll leave the Senate Elections Committee before they break, which is good news,” Fata said.

Those bills are meant to codify the federal Voting Rights Act, but the way they were initially written puts a massive burden on our local clerks. And it could potentially expose local governments to some legal challenges and lawsuits. But in stakeholder meetings, I think we’ve made some great progress to mirror the federal act more closely. So, we’ve made some progress, and we have to review those drafts more closely. We’ll keep you posted on some movement.”

Energy siting law

With the pivot of the ballot group Citizens for Local Choice from the 2024 ballot to the 2026 one, counties need to start working on complying with the state law passed in 2023 that encroaches deeply on local control on renewable energy locations:

“For those counties who do handle zoning, if you were holding out hope that this would be successful, unfortunately, come November of this year, that law takes effect,” said Fata. “So, you will need to get your plans in order. Sarah Mills and Madeleine Krol from the University of Michigan have put together an excellent article that will be in our June magazine later this month that details the three paths that a local government may take moving forward. So, stay tuned for that. But you’re going have to get your ducks in a row in the coming months: either adopt an ordinance, don’t adopt an ordinance, it’ll be up to each individual municipality.”

View the full episode, recorded on June 3, 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.

 

Macomb, Kent, Washtenaw honored in NACo awards

Three Michigan counties earned recognition for five separate programs in the 2024 Achievement Awards announced by the National Association of Counties on June 7.

The program is a non-competitive awards program recognizing innovative county government programs in 18 categories covering a wide spectrum of county responsibilities. Since 1970, the NACo Achievement Awards have recognized outstanding county government programs and services. Through a non-competitive application process, noteworthy programs receive awards in 18 categories that cover a vast range of county responsibilities.

  • Macomb County garnered three different citations in the field of “Criminal Justice and Public Safety” for efforts around a Hate Crimes Unit, the streamlining of witness fee requests and a text-based access system to aid the victims of crime.
  • Kent County was honored for its “Getting Ahead of Lead” project to boost delivery of certified lead-reducing water filters to eligible households in the county.
  • Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary and Chief Judge Carol Kuhnke were honored for work on a Tax Foreclosure Prevention Specialty Docket that has “created a higher level of access to justice and to legal resources for vulnerable and disenfranchised homeowners.”

To see a full list of honorees, click here.

 

Check out NACo tool on opioid harm reduction

Five Questions for Counties Considering Harm Reduction as an Opioid Abatement Strategy was released by the National Association of Counties this past spring. The tool provides answers to the following questions and examples of counties associated with each question.

  • What is harm reduction and what would it mean for our community?
  • What if our county isn’t involved in the delivery of substance use services?
  • What if community-based organizations already offer harm reduction services?
  • What if harm reduction is restricted at the state level?
  • How can opioid settlement funds support harm reduction?

Based on data from MAC’s recent Annual Opioid Settlement County Reporting Survey, which 64 counties responded to, harm reduction is one of the lowest funded activities with local settlement funds (5%). The National Harm Reduction Coalition identifies harm reduction as, “Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use” (National Harm Reduction Coalition).

Harm reduction extends well beyond access to naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, and can include peer support, referrals to treatment, wound care, safe use supplies, communicable disease testing, and other services focused on meeting people where they are at. To learn more about how to meaningfully engage with individuals with lived and living experience with substance use, see MAC’s Lived Experience Key Takeaways Document from our previous webinar.

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

 

Sign up now for free cybersecurity training pod

County leaders have free access to an upcoming cybersecurity training unit sponsored by the National Association of Counties:

  • Simulation Topic: Supplier Management Access
  • Virtual: June 17-21
  • Register Here– No Cost

Effective supplier management is integral to the operational efficiency of any organization, yet it poses inherent cybersecurity risks, especially concerning supplier access to sensitive systems and data. This cyber attack simulation focuses on evaluating the vulnerabilities and potential threats associated with supplier access including third-party vendor breaches, unauthorized use of supplier credentials, and supplier-initiated cyber threats. The simulation aims to foster a deeper comprehension of the complexities surrounding supplier access risks and to facilitate the development and testing of robust strategies for mitigating these risks effectively.

Designed with a daily commitment of 45 to 90 minutes for the duration of one week, activities can be accessed anywhere online and can be completed at the convenience of the participant’s schedule. The cyberattack simulation is designed for any cybersecurity manager as well as teams responsible for risk defense, protection, and recovery (including managers in HR, policy, finance, public safety and emergency services).

For questions, email moderator@pdaleadership.com.

 

Webinar to feature San Francisco’s naloxone access work

“Partnership for Healthy Cities is hosting Overdose Prevention Webinar: Partnering with Community to Enhance Overdose Prevention Strategies” will be held on Monday, June 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Individuals can register here.

The webinar will highlight San Francisco’s approach to increasing access to naloxone, the overdose reversal medication. They will share, “the process and benefits of partnering with community-based organizations and people with lived and living experience.”

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

 

Staff picks

State program will help homeowners on septic work

Michigan homeowners may be eligible for a $50,000 low-interest loan to replace their septic systems under a new program. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has launched the Septic Replacement Loan Program in partnership with Michigan Saves, a nonprofit green bank.

Systems must be failing or near-failing to qualify for financing. Failing septic systems can contaminate groundwater, leading to a public health crisis. However, homeowners are often unable to repair or replace their systems due to financial constraints.

Those interested in applying for the program must first seek a bid from an authorized septic installation contractor, then contact their local health department to obtain a construction permit. The final step is to apply for a loan online. The available loan options have an average interest rate of 7.67% with a 15-year term.

While the proposed statewide septic code legislation has not yet had a public hearing and is far from becoming law, financing for homeowners has been a major concern for MAC. The Septic Replacement Loan Program is a step in the right direction to help address some of those concerns, with or without legislative change.

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

 

Bill to make state law on lake levels more flexible gets hearing

A bill aimed at amending the state law on inland lake levels received a legislative hearing this week.

Senate Bill 662, by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Oakland), would redefine the “normal lake level” to account for temporary fluctuations caused by weather conditions and construction or repair activities. The current statute and recent court decisions that require counties to maintain a static lake level or to petition circuit courts to amend lake level orders when deviations occur is a time-consuming and costly process. SB 662, which is before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation, intends to streamline this process by retroactively changing the definition to include the variations.  By broadening the definition, counties and lake level districts should be able to avoid unnecessary lawsuits and repeated court proceedings, ultimately conserving both financial and administrative resources.

The bill is supported by the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners and the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and Environment.

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

 

Bill would exempt broadband expansion grants from taxation

A tax exemption may help to foster broadband expansion under proposed legislation. House Bill 5682, by Rep. Jen Hill (D-Marquette), was brought before the House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee for an initial hearing on Tuesday. The legislation would exempt broadband expansion grants from taxable income.

When a broadband provider is awarded a grant by the state or federal government, they must pay 6% percent in corporate income tax. Most of these grants require a match from the broadband provider, so they are financially invested in addition to the awarded funds. Peninsula Fiber Network shared during committee that they were awarded $61 million by the federal government, they matched $26 million in private funds and are now required to pay $5 million in taxes. That $5 million could have been used to connect additional customers.

The counter argument is that, at present, the $5 million goes into the state’s General Fund. However, the tax collected on broadband expansion grants can hardly be accounted for by Treasury each year, as it is unpredictable and circumstantial.

MAC did not take a position on the legislation but has discussed it with stakeholders. It was supported in committee by the Broadband Association of Michigan and Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

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

 

Bill to boost maintenance work on drains gets House hearing

A bill to raise the current maintenance dollar limitation from $5,000 per mile per year to $10,000 per mile per year on county drains received a hearing this week before the House Committee on Local Government.

House Bill 5188, by Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), would change current law that limits the amount of maintenance work drain commissioners can perform on a single drain in a year to $5,000 per mile. This limit places stringent constraints on what a drain commissioner can do to perform maintenance on existing drainage systems each year. Whether the existing drainage system is an open channel ditch/watercourse or an enclosed underground system, much of the necessary maintenance of current drainage infrastructure across the state cannot be efficiently performed under the current limit, causing the commissioners to maintain smaller sections each year and redeploying equipment and personnel in subsequent years to properly maintain the drain.

The bill was not voted on this week, but further action is anticipated.

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

 

No Legislative Update for May 31

MAC’s Legislative Update will take a one-week hiatus due to the legislative break for the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island May 28-31.

Expect the next Legislative Update on Friday, June 7.

For any late-breaking legislative news, watch for MAC special alerts or check our website at www.micounties.org.

 

May 29 webinar to focus on rail crossing grants

A session focused on the Rail Crossing Elimination (RCE) grant, a federal program available to states and communities for improving the safety and mobility of people and goods, will be held on May 29 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern.

Click here to register.

Now approaching its second application period at the end of May, the program in its inaugural year delivered $570 million in grants to eliminate nearly 400 rail crossings in 32 states.

Attendees will hear from the Federal Railroad Administration on the program, including best practices for applicants. We will also feature a case study of a successful grant in Franklin Park, Illinois, including local and county perspective and insight from the project’s partner railroad CPKC on working with railroads on grant projects.

 

Treasury sets schedule for correcting millage rate errors

The Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury) reminds municipalities that, although not required, they can review and correct errors in Treasury’s calculation of each municipality’s millage rate eligible for the 2024 Personal Property Tax (PPT) reimbursement (MCL 123.1345(x)(ii)(B) and MCL 123.1353(5)). 

The Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) Act requires Treasury to make the eligible millage rate calculations available by May 1. The eligible millage rate calculations can be found on Treasury’s 2024 PPT Reimbursements website under the “Millage Rate Comparison Reports” heading. These 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports are intended to be used by municipalities to verify the accuracy of the eligible millage rates to be used in their 2024 PPT reimbursement calculations. 

How to Review the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports:

  1. Verify Individual Millage Rate(s) Levied in 2023
    1. Municipalities should compare the individual millage rate(s) levied in 2023 on the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports with the millage rates reported on their 2023 Form 614 – Tax Rate Request (L-4029).
    2. Each millage rate reported on the 2023 Form 614 should be listed on the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports (excluding special assessments).
  2. Verify Calculated Millage Rate Used in the Computation
    1. The calculated millage rates to be used in the 2024 PPT reimbursement calculations should equal the lesser of the eligible millage cap and the 2023 millage rate.
    2. The Millage Rate Calculation tab of the Excel workbook provides information about how each eligible millage rate is calculated.
    3. NOTE: Calculated eligible millage rates may be prorated and thus may not reflect the actual millage rates levied by the municipality.

When NO Millage Rate Errors Are Identified:

If a municipality does not identify an error in the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports, the municipality does not need to file a form or take any further action to notify Treasury.

When Errors ARE Identified:

If a municipality does identify an error in the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports, the municipality will need to complete the Form 5613Millage Rate Correction for the 2024 Personal Property Tax Reimbursement Calculations to notify Treasury of the error(s). In addition to the correction form, municipalities must provide substantiating documentation to support the millage correction.

The reporting forms related to the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports (along with the associated deadlines) are available on Treasury’s PPT Reimbursements website under Forms and Instructions.

  1. Form 5608Portion of 2023 Essential Services Millage Rate Dedicated for the Cost of Essential Services
    1. Optional form to be used by counties, cities, villages, townships, and local authorities that levy an extra-voted millage rate that partially funds the cost of essential services (for example a Fire/Cemetery millage).
    2. NOTE: For extra-voted millage rates with a name that implies the millage was partially dedicated for the cost of essential services, Treasury has identified the millage type as “PARTIAL ESSENTIAL SERVICE” on the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports.
    3. DUE DATE: Aug. 1, 2024
       
  2. Form 5613Millage Rate Correction for the 2024 Personal Property Tax Reimbursement Calculations
    1. Optional form to be used by municipalities that identify an error in the 2024 Millage Rate Comparison Reports.
    2. DUE DATE: Aug. 1, 2024

The corrections reported on Form 5613 and the essential services percentage reported on Form 5608 will be used in the calculation of the 2024 PPT reimbursements.

Form 5613 and Form 5608 submissions will not be accepted after Aug. 1, 2024.

Please direct any questions regarding the PPT reimbursement calculation or correction process to TreasORTAPPT@michigan.gov or 517-335-7484.

 

Comparing the FY25 revenue sharing proposals

As the state budget for fiscal 2025 heads to the Legislature’s Conference Committee, differing proposals for county revenue sharing from the governor and legislative chambers will be on the table. Each plan aims to address the fiscal needs of counties with varying methodologies and financial implications.

As seen in the chart, the three proposals have significant differences.

The governor favors a traditional approach of ongoing and one-time increases still subject to the annual appropriations process.

The House wishes to follow the MAC-supported Revenue Sharing Trust Fund model built on a sales tax carve-out, thereby allowing for a steady increase in funding and ensuring a link between economic activity and county funding.

The Senate takes the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund model further with a larger chunk of the sales tax and an inverse relationship to taxable value, meaning counties with lower taxable values receive a larger share of the increase. This results in a $52.5 million increase, with the average county seeing a boost of approximately 20 percent.

The Senate’s proposal, which MAC favors, aims to provide more substantial financial support, particularly to counties with lower taxable values, thereby addressing disparities and promoting equitable distribution of resources.

To see how the different approaches affect your county, click here.

The challenge now before the Conference Committee, armed with final spending data from the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (see item below), lies in balancing the ambitious increases proposed by the Senate with the more conservative approaches of the governor and House, all while ensuring the final agreement meets the varied needs of counties.

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

 

State has $14.26 billion to use for FY25 General Fund

Michigan’s legislators will have $236 million more available for the fiscal 2025 General Fund budget than was expected in January.

In its final session before the Legislature completes its 2025 budget work, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) concluded there will be a net amount of $14.26 billion to spend for the General Fund, state spending plan that covers many county-related functions.

This figure is up $235.6 million from the CREC projection from January 2024.

These conferences are required by statute to determine the state of Michigan’s financial resources as lawmakers draft annual budgets.

“With Michigan’s revenue outlook appearing to be stable if not growing slightly, we hope to see the manifestation of growth to continue to benefit not just the state, and infrastructure, but with counties as well through revenue sharing,” said MAC’s Deena Bosworth.

Notable information from the May 17 presentation on Michigan’s economy and budget:

  • The state would enter FY25 with a “rainy day” reserve fund of $2.1 billion, after substantial growth in interest earnings. As recently as FY19, the reserve fund held only $1.15 billion.
  • CREC continues to show the state falling further below the revenue limit imposed by the Headlee Amendment, which was adopted in the 1970s. For the next two fiscal years, the state could raise an additional $12 billion ― essentially a second state General Fund ― and still comply with Headlee’s restrictions.
  • The housing affordability outlook is not good, but, conversely, that is positive news for businesses involved in home construction that are trying to fill unmet demand.
  • Michigan employment is above pre-pandemic levels.
  • Inflation in Michigan is “turning slowly,” with housing the major issue there.

For more information on MAC’s budget advocacy, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Policy Summit will focus on financial issues with opioids, roads, jails

The 2024 MAC Policy Summit on June 25 will feature briefings on Medicaid jail policies, the latest news on using opioid settlement dollars, a potentially massive shift in how Michigan funds its roads and an overview of counties’ long-term fiscal health.

Registration is now open for the session, with a $75 fee covering either the virtual option or attendance in-person at the AC Hotel Lansing just off U.S. 127 in the capital city.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

The event is designed to allow county leaders to get to and from Lansing in a reasonable schedule. However, MAC has secured a room block at the AC Hotel (3160 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing) for $149 per night.

Agenda

9 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.: Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:40 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.: Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy and the Medicaid Section 1115 Waiver

  • Presenters: Robert Sheehan, CEO, Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, and Samantha Gibson, governmental affairs associate, MAC

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.: Opioid Settlement Funds: Year in Review

  • Presenter: Amy Dolinky, technical adviser, opioid settlement funds planning and capacity building, MAC

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Lunch

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Why and How to Conduct a Road Usage Charge Pilot in Michigan

  • Presenter: Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director of transportation policy, Reason Foundation

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Beyond the Numbers: Assessing the Resilience of Michigan County Governments’ Finances

  • Presenter: Stephanie Leiser, lead, Michigan Local Government Fiscal Health Project at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy

For more details on the presentations, the hotel and parking tips, visit MAC’s events page.

Participants in the summit will earn 1 credit hour toward certification in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.

 

Legislator remarks, energy law featured in new MAC videos

The Legislative Panel was held on May 1 at the 2024 Legislative Conference. (Rod Sanford Photography)

MAC has added new videos to its YouTube playlist from the 2024 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference in Lansing, April 29-May 1:

  • Energy Siting Law Workshop (April 30) led by Sarah Mills of the University of Michigan
  • Basics of Public Act 233
  • What’s a county to do under the act?
  • Pros and cons of available options
  • Legislative Panel held on May 1
  • Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt on indigent defense reform
  • Comments on public safety funding
  • Rep. John Fitzgerald on road funding
  • Rep. Graham Filler on partisan dynamics in the House

Presentations and other documents from the conference can be found on MAC’s website.

 

Prospects for huge revenue sharing gain detailed in podcast

Legislators continue to grind on a fiscal 2025 state budget, a document that could yield a massive reform in county revenue sharing, a Podcast 83 team member detailed this week in a new episode.

While the governor, the House and the Senate all have proposed increases in revenue sharing, it’s the Senate approach that is most attractive, said Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth.

Like the House, the Senate is pursuing MAC’s trust fund proposal of carving out a portion of the state sales tax for use in dedicated fund for counties.

“(The Senate) wants to do 9.1 percent of the state sales tax for cities, villages, townships and counties. And they are not doing the public safety percentage (which the House is pursuing),” Bosworth said. “So, Sen. (John) Cherry made the recommendation that we’re going to take a bigger piece of the sales tax, which is a $52.5 million increase. He says whatever your county got in fiscal year 24 is absolutely the minimum. And then that additional $52.5 million that he is recommending for this year is going to get distributed out to counties based on an inverse relationship to their taxable value.”

In other Capitol news:

  • Samantha Gibson explained MAC’s opposition to a bill on prisoners earning release credits that could disrupt the state’s “Truth in Sentencing” rules.
  • Madeline Fata explained the huge burdens that could fall on county clerks and other local election officials if the current version of the so-called “Michigan Voting Rights Act” legislation were to be adopted.

View the full episode, recorded on May 13, 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.

 

Register now for next ‘Chart Chat’ webinar from Michigan Treasury

Registration is open for Treasury’s next “Chart Chat” webinar on Thursday, May 30. The session will run from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern.

Click here to register.

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 in this session will include:

  • Corrective Action Plans
  • Numbered Letters Update
  • Budget Projection Tool
  • Uniform Actuarial Assumptions (PA 202 of 2017)
  • Headlee Overview

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

 

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