Extension for court fee authority advances in House and Senate

Legislation to secure key trial court funding has passed out of the House, and recently introduced Senate bills on the subject received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

House Bill 5392 and Senate Bill 815, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson) and Sen. Sue Shink (D-Washtenaw) respectively, extend a quickly approaching May 1, 2024, expiration (“sunset”) of the authority of trial courts to levy fees that constitute a key part of their operational funding.

However, HB 5392 and SB 815 are “tie-barred” to a separate measure through actions of the House Judiciary Committee. The companion bills, HB 5534 and SB 814, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland) and Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Wayne) respectively, outline a plan for the State Court Administrative Office to conduct data collection on certain trial court costs and revenue sources and provide a report to the Legislature with proposals to implement the Trial Court Funding Commission’s recommendations from 2019. A “tie-bar” means both bills must advance together.

Now that the House bills have advanced to the Senate, MAC anticipates the Senate passing the legislation next week. With the bills headed to the Governor as early as next week, MAC expects the sunset to be extended prior to its expiration on May 1. Courts stand to lose nearly $50 million in operational funding annually if HB 5392 does not pass. This loss of revenue, if not covered by the state, will fall on the counties to cover.

Now, the Senate needs to give immediate effect to both bills, otherwise the legislation will not take effect until well after May 1.

MAC supports both HBs 5392 and 5534 and SBs 814 and 815, with our priority to move HB 5392 and extend the sunset prior to May 1.

MAC is asking members to take immediate action to urge quick legislative passage. Please visit MAC’s advocacy center to share your support and the need for immediate effect in the Senate for HBs 5392 and 5534 with your elected officials. The legislative window is closing, as there are limited days for the Legislature to advance the bills to the governor prior to May 1.

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

 

MAC working on changes to short-term rental legislation

A 10-bill package designed to restrict ― but not eliminate ― local governments’ power to regulate short term-rentals, while allowing for a 6 percent excise tax was the subject of the House Local Government Committee meeting this week. House Bills 5437-5446 did not receive a vote in committee this week, and further hearings are anticipated.

The primary bill in the package is HB 5438, by Rep. Joey Andrews (D-Berrien), which would require short-term rentals to be registered with the state; carry $1 million in liability insurance; have carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; and have an emergency contact for renters within 30 miles of the rental. The bill would not allow a local government to ban short-term rentals but would allow communities to restrict their number.  

MAC has not taken a formal position on the bills since counties are not defined as a local government under the legislation; do not have the authority to regulate the rentals; nor do they collect any portion of the proposed excise tax. The bill sponsor is open to amendments to recognize that many counties do the planning and zoning for municipalities and enforce building codes.  

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

 

Special elections renew 56-54 Democratic majority in House

Democrats again will hold a 56-54 edge in the Michigan House of Representatives after two special elections held Tuesday.

The House has been at a 54-54 standstill since Reps. Kevin Coleman (D-Westland) and Lori Stone (D-Warren) left office to serve as mayor in their respective hometowns.

Replacing Coleman will be Peter Herzberg, a Westland City Council member. Mai Xiong, a Macomb County commissioner, will be filling Stone’s seat in the 13th district.

It remains unclear when the new representatives will be sworn in. The Board of State Canvassers must certify the election first, and they are scheduled to meet on April 26. It is possible Xiong and Herzberg will be seated the following week, though it could be even later.

State law requires the Legislature to finish its budget work by July 1 each year, though there are no penalties to lawmakers for missing that deadline.

However, during election years, the Legislature traditionally breaks in late May or early June to return home to their districts for campaign work. That means there could only be about 12 or 15 session days between the new representatives being seated and the summer recess. While most of this time will be occupied with budget work, it is possible Democrats will take advantage of their renewed majority and advance some of their legislative priorities.

For more discussion on the legislative calendar, check out the latest episode of Podcast 83.

 

Learn your options about social media posting in April 22 webinar

An April 22 webinar will brief local leaders on the effect of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on their social media posting.

Hosted by the Local Government Legal Center (LGLC), legal experts will lead a discussion of the Lindke v. Freed decision in which the Supreme Court set forth the test for when local government officials are considered “state actors” for the purposes of the First Amendment when they post on social media.

Click here to register. The webinar begins at 2 p.m. Eastern.

The LGLC is a coalition of national local government organizations formed in 2023 by the National Association of Counties (NACo), National League of Cities (NLC), International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) and Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) to provide education to local governments regarding the Supreme Court and its impact on local governments and local officials and to advocate for local government positions at the Supreme Court in appropriate cases.

 

Capital improvements are subject of April 22 ‘Fiscally Ready’ session

The next “Fiscally Ready Communities” training opportunity will focus on “Capital Asset Management and Planning” on April 22.

Recurring annual expenses are simple to budget, but repair and replacement of big-ticket items can be much more difficult. A Capital Improvement Program (CIP) will help your local government organize those major projects and forecast the expenses to make long-term planning simpler. This session will cover the basics of a CIP, best practices, and give participants a chance to share techniques that have worked for their community, as well as policies, procedures, and accounting for capital asset management and planning.

Click here to register for the event, which runs from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

For more information about Fiscally Ready Communities, please check out the Treasury Fiscally Ready Communities webpage. This webpage includes Treasury’s 32-page Fiscally Ready Communities Best Practices document, which we encourage all local officials to review.

If you have any questions, email TreasLocalGov@michigan.gov with the subject line “Fiscally Ready.”

 

Fee authority for courts likely to expire without legislative intervention

Legislation to secure key trial court funding still awaits a vote on the House floor.

House Bill 5392, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), extends a quickly approaching May 1, 2024, expiration (“sunset”) of the authority of trial courts to levy fees that constitute a key part of their operational funding.

However, HB 5392 is “tie-barred” to a separate measure through actions of the House Judiciary Committee. The companion bill, HB 5534, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland), outlines a plan for the State Court Administrative Office to conduct data collection on certain trial court costs and revenue sources and provide a report to the Legislature with proposals to implement the Trial Court Funding Commission’s recommendations from 2019. A “tie-bar” means both bills must advance together.

MAC sees broad support for the sunset extension, but the prospects for the companion bill are much less clear. If, for political reasons, the legislation is delayed and not signed before May 1, a funding gap will result.

As we approach May 1, and the bills have yet to receive a vote, it is increasing likely fee authority for courts will expire. Courts stand to lose nearly $50 million in operational funding annually if HB 5392 does not pass. This loss of revenue, if not covered by the state, will fall on the counties to cover.

With the likelihood for the fee authority to expire, the State Court Administrative Office sent a memo to courts last week, encouraging them to work with counties to establish a back-up funding plan.

While we are expecting the authority to expire on May 1, MAC anticipates the bills will still be signed in May. MAC is advocating for state funding to be appropriated to counties in the event a funding gap is created, to the tune of $1 million per week.

MAC supports both HB 5392 and 5534, with our priority to move HB 5392 and extend the funding authority prior to May 1.

MAC is asking members to take immediate action to urge quick legislative passage. Please visit MAC’s advocacy center to share your support for HBs 5392 and 5534 with your elected officials. The legislative window is closing, as there are limited days for the Legislature to advance the bills to the governor prior to May 1.

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

 

Executive Director Stephan Currie with official County Government Month resolution.

Legislative resolution recognizes ‘County Government Month’

April has been designated National County Government Month in Michigan after the Senate approved a resolution this week.

Resolution 105, by Sens. Jeff Irwin (D-Washtenaw) and Sylvia Santana (D-Wayne), was requested by MAC as part of National County Government Month festivities led by the National Association of Counties. Irwin is a former Washtenaw County commissioner and a member of MAC’s County Caucus.

This recognition is an opportunity to highlight the hard work of county officials and the multitude of services county governments provide. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has pushed for all states to celebrate counties throughout the month of April.

 

Impact on counties of federal PFAS rule as yet unclear

The federal government has issued new drinking water standards pertaining to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week the “first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard.”

There are 66,000 public drinking water systems in the U.S. and the EPA estimates that between 6 percent and 10 percent of those systems will need to take action to meet the new standards. The federal government has made available $1 billion in funding to test and treat both private and public water supplies for PFAS.

Michigan has been a national leader in PFAS testing and treatment since at least 2017 with the creation of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART). While MPART has already sampled every public drinking water system in the state, it is not yet publicly known how many, if any, will be impacted by the new standards.

For more information on MAC’s environmental policy work, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Trial court legislation still stuck in Lansing calendar, Podcast 83 reports

With legislators returning to Lansing this week, focus again turns to the overdue action on the authority of trial courts to levy fees, MAC’s Samantha Gibson told her fellow Podcast 83 team members in the group’s newest episode.

“So, at this time, unfortunately, we’re still held up on trial court funding legislation in the House,” Gibson said. “What’s becoming increasingly likely, and what I think will end up happening, is once the two vacant house seats are filled after those special elections, April 16, maybe. So, let’s say April 23 or 24, maybe the House will vote the bills out, then the Senate is going to have a hearing on some Senate versions of those bills on the 18th. So, whenever the House bills get over there, they can just get sent right to the Senate floor. … We probably will be looking at a week or so after May 1 for implementation of the new sunset.”

In that case, MAC will be pressing the state to reimburse counties for the approximately $1 million per week that will be lost in operating revenue, as it did the last time the fee authority expired in the fall of 2022.

Also reviewed in this week’s episode are:

The potential effects of legislation just signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on hotel/motel tax authority for Kent and seven other counties.

The timing for the passage of the state’s FY25 budget this spring with the statewide election calendar looming.

View the full episode, recorded on April 8, 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.

 

April 16 webinar set on harm reduction and opioid treatment meds

On Tuesday, April 16, the next webinar in the Opioid Settlement Technical Assistance Learning Series will be held from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., titled “MOUD & Harm Reduction.”

Many people have negative reactions when they hear “methadone” or “needle exchange,” but these are two of several science-backed ways to improve health and prevent deaths among people who use drugs. This presentation provides a broad overview of two kinds of interventions that science shows can help people who use drugs: medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), sch as methadone, and harm reduction, which includes services like needle and syringe programs. We will explain how these interventions work, show evidence of their effectiveness, and address common misconceptions about them.

Register to attend here.

The series is hosted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University as part of their Technical Assistance Collaborative.

For more information on opioid settlements are technical assistance, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

New tool provides ‘one-stop shop’ for your grant searches

Help with the perennial challenge of finding and securing grants for county initiatives is here.

The MI Funding Hub is a new effort led by the Michigan Municipal League and state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to develop one-stop shop for grants. The hub provides open access to a searchable database of federal and state funding sources as well as philanthropic foundations that can be queried based on type of applicant and funding category as funding becomes available.

The hub provides a monthly newsletter announcing new grants, webinars and grant readiness training.

Local officials also have free access to hands-on technical assistance from a team of experts across many fields through the MI Funding Hub helpdesk. After receiving your helpdesk request form, the team will schedule a meeting to discuss funding needs, answer funding questions, direct applicants to appropriate funding sources and coach you on developing application strategies.

Services provided through the MI Funding Hub do not include writing grant applications, but MAC’s CoProPlus subsidiary does have a pre-negotiated grant writing contract available.

Get started by watching a recorded introductory webinar.

 

Use cyber courses to bolster your county’s defenses

It can happen to you.

In early April, Grand Traverse County was hit with a “spear phishing” attack through its email system. The county’s IT team was able to ward off the assault, but this is yet another reminder that digital security is a fundamental duty for any county government in the 21st century.

The NACo Cyberattack Simulation is a reality-based simulation that prepares county risk leaders for cyberattacks by assessing counties’ current state of readiness and identifying gaps. This simulation will help attendees evaluate their incident response procedures and tools and guide them in developing a detailed cyberattack response strategy.

Upcoming sessions will focus on:

  • June 2024: Supplier Management Access
  • September 2024: Financial Access
  • December 2024: Cloud Security

The NACo Cyberattack Simulation is designed for cybersecurity managers, their teams and those responsible for risk defense, protection, and recovery, including HR, policy management, finance, public safety and emergency services. It requires 30-60 minutes per day for one week. Activities can be completed on the participants’ schedule and accessed online anywhere.

The retail price of the one week Cyberattack Simulation is $795 per enrollee; however, the simulations are fully sponsored for all counties, bringing your price down to ZERO.

To learn more or enroll, email moderator@pdaleadership.com.

 

Electronic options now offered on payments from state

The Michigan Municipal Services Authority (MMSA) and Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) are working to ensure local governments are receiving the state reimbursements the Legislature has worked hard to protect. These reimbursements include personal property tax (PPT) reimbursement, Fire Protection Grants, ELPHA and Metro Act payments.

The LCSA issues thousands of checks each year to local governments and a number of these remain uncashed. Issuing physical checks means there’s a greater chance of those funds being lost.

While we do work with the local units to try to locate checks and/or reissue them, if necessary, this process can take months.

As a result, we are commencing an electronic payment outreach program with the goal of ensuring local governments receive payments required under state statute(s). Our partners at Plante Moran are launching an outreach effort to contact local units of government directly to set up electronic payment.

LCSA offers two options for electronic deposit: through an ACH or through a Michigan Class participant-to-participant transfer.

If you would like to begin the simple process of converting to electronic payment, email us at electronicpayment@lcsami.gov.  For questions, please contact Samantha Harkins, ceo@michiganmsa.org.

 

Opioid settlement metrics tool released

The Opioid Settlement Principles Resource and Indicators (OSPRI) interactive online tool is now available. This tool serves as a valuable resource to monitor strategies funded with opioid settlement funds to address the drug overdose crisis and improve public health outcomes in the community. OSPRI assists in determining indicators related to the priorities and needs determined by local governments which will allow for understanding of the effectiveness of and improved ability to report on outcomes associated with investments.

OSPRI was developed by a working group from Vital Strategies and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with additional contributions from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Shatterproof, the CDC Foundation, and the National Association of Counties.

For additional information or technical assistance with monitoring investments, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

Staff picks

Time grows short to register for 2024 Legislative Conference

If you plan to join your fellow county leaders for two days of policy presentations, legislative discussions and networking in Lansing this month, now is the time to act.

The 2024 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference starts April 29, but MAC’s special room rate at the DoubleTree Hotel expires today. Attendees may be able to still obtain lodging there, but they will be paying the full retail rate.

The next nearest hotel is the Courtyard Marriott (see map). Their room rates are $159 for the night of April 29 and $189 for the night of April 30. Click here for more information or to book a room there.

Digital conference registration continues until April 19 for the event. Leading in times of crisis and change will be the theme of its keynote address.

Retired Adm. Peter Cressy, director of Executive Leadership Programs at the Washington Leadership Institute, will speak on:

Cressy

“Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Churchill: A Strategic Approach to Leading in Times of Crisis and Change: Washington and these other great leaders manifested eight common characteristics in leading during times of crisis and change, ranging from visibility and communication to planning and collaboration. This popular session will explore examples of these traits during the times of crisis each of these outstanding leaders faced, which remain relevant today.”

Additional plenary sessions will feature:

  • A Legislative Panel discussion with key lawmakers from the House and Senate
  • Remarks from National Association of Counties (NACo) President Mary Jo McGuire of Ramsey County, Minnesota
  • MAC Legislative Update
  • Remarks from MAC President Jim Storey of Allegan County
  • Presentation of certificates to the 2024 graduating class of County Commissioner Academy

Breakout sessions on current challenges for county leaders, including broadband funding updates, lessons learned from the opioid settlements, impact of renewable energy siting legislation, options for infrastructure funding to address the expansion of electric vehicles and much more!

For any conference-related question, send an email to connell@micounties.org.

 

New law expands hotel/motel tax authority for 8 counties

Eight counties gain an expanded ability to tax temporary lodgings under a 2023 bill finally signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week.

House Bill 5048, by Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Kent), uses population thresholds that qualify these counties to increase what they can charge on hotel and motel rooms. The counties are Calhoun, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Saginaw and Washtenaw. 

MAC had backed a bid for this option for all 83 counties to give them another economic development tool. Leaders in Kent County, in particular, pushed hard for change as they are seeking revenue for a new sports complex and an aquarium.

MAC’s broader efforts were opposed by the Restaurant and Lodging Association and convention and visitors bureaus, leading to this more restricted law.

These projects hold immense promise for Kent County, not only in terms of providing recreational and cultural amenities but also in driving economic growth through increased tourism and job creation. The sports complex promises to be a hub for sports enthusiasts, attracting both local fans and visitors from afar. Similarly, the aquarium offers an immersive experience for residents and tourists alike, showcasing the region’s aquatic biodiversity and educational opportunities.

Under the law, an increase will require a vote of the people to increase the excise tax from 5 percent to 8 percent for eligible counties. A separate provision for an additional 2 percent excise tax by local governments is limited to Kent County.

MAC will continue to advocate for the ability of all counties to raise revenue to fund economic growth and to provide for the public safety needs that come along with increased tourism and recreation in this state. 

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

 

Legislation introduced to return local control on tobacco sales

Legislation to allow counties to place tighter restrictions on the sale of tobacco products is now before the Senate Regulatory Affairs Committee. Senate Bill 647, by Sen. Sue Shink (D-Washtenaw), is one piece of a larger package enforcing limitations on tobacco product sales.

SBs 647654 would ban all sales of flavored tobacco products, require tobacco retailers to be licensed and create an excise tax on e-cigarettes and vapes with nicotine. The package would also repeal current statutory penalties on youth for possessing tobacco products.

MAC has taken a position of support for SB 647 due to its focus on returning control to counties for the regulation of tobacco sales.

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

 

CoPro+ program can be ally in procurement work

Were you aware that a MAC program offers your procurement team more than 150 contracts for goods and services, all pre-negotiated and in full compliance with state law?

MAC’s CoProPlus subsidiary, now entering its second decade of service to public entities, stands ready to assist MAC members in expansive ways, explained CoPro+ staffers in a new episode of MAC’s Podcast 83.

“One thing that makes us unique is that we will go into an entity that needs our services and offer a full range of end-to-end procurement services,” said Penny Saites of CoPro+. “(We offer) everything from writing bid specs, to writing the bid document, to assisting through the procurement process and all the way to evaluation and contract execution.”

“Any public agency is eligible to participate in the program,” added Chuck Wolford. “And that could be a county, a city, a township, a public school, a college or a university. And you can use the contracts at absolutely no cost to you and save you the time for procuring it again, we’ve already done the work for you. It’s already been vetted. And you’re always going have something that’s done the right way through this program.”

While the figure changes regularly, CoPro+ has about 150 contracts in place. About 20 counties have made use of at least one such contract.

“We have contracts in commodities, IT professional services and maintenance and repair type contracts. So, if you’re a facility guy, you’re going want to look at some of those building services contracts that we have, like we have a really nice overhead door contract where those vendors also do HVAC and other building services,” Saites explained.

“We are looking at some of the professional services contracts; grant writing I know is one of them. We get a lot of questions from MAC (on that issue),” Saites added. “There’s also compensation studies available on there, if folks would like to engage with that group.”

View the full episode, recorded on Feb. 28, 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.

 

EGLE event will focus on environmental compliance challenges

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) will host the 2024 Michigan Environmental Compliance Conference (MECC) June 5-6 at the Lansing Center. The MECC is EGLE’s premier compliance assistance event designed to help businesses, municipalities, and environmental professionals across Michigan comply with their environmental requirements.

Get up-to-date information on regulatory topics, environmental requirements, best practices, EGLE hot topics and more.

Network with regulators, clients, and potential customers from around the state.

Choose from more than 70 concurrent technical presentations delivered by program experts on topics related to air quality, hazardous waste and materials management, drinking water requirements, water quality regulations, remediation, and emergency planning.

Take advantage of opportunities for specialized one-on-one assistance from EGLE staff and get your questions answered.

A full conference registration is $200. The deadline to register is May 27. See more details at Michigan.gov/EGLEevents.

 

Lenawee commissioner explains beginnings of ballot campaign on energy sites

“This is strictly a question of who decides how to site these things, the (Michigan Public Service Commission) or local units of government.”

So explained Lenawee County Commissioner Kevon Martis about the ballot campaign he and other concerned citizens formed now to contest Public Act 233, the controversial state law adopted in 2023 on the siting of renewable energy facilities.

“Public Act 233 has really taken away any meaningful local control of wind, solar and battery storage regulation,” Martis explained to Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie in a new special episode. “We’ve taken the approach that people should have a vote on this, and we’re trying to place the repeal of that local zoning preemption on the ballot this November.”

Under the name “Citizens for Local Choice,” this group wants voters to have a chance to modify the law to protect local control.

“We introduced this as initiated legislation and that legislation targets only the local zoning preemption (in the law),” Martis explained. “We’re not touching any of the energy policy side of this.”

The group, of which MAC is now a part, needs 357,000 signatures by May 29 to meet its goal of reaching the November 2024 ballot.

“My strong recommendation to (Michigan’s county commissioners) is if each of you go out and collect one or two pages of signatures ― and each page has 12 signatures ― that will make a meaningful difference in our efforts,” Martis said.

View the full episode, recorded on March 22, 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.

 

Use new portal to help state direct broadband investments

The State Challenge Process is open for residents and businesses to test the quality of their high-speed internet. The $1.55 billion Michigan is set to receive through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program (BEAD) will go toward unserved and underserved locations. But, for the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) to determine which locations truly meet that criterion, people must participate in the challenge process.

The maps were initially built using data from internet service providers, state, and federal entities. The challenge process is meant to fact-check that data and ensure funds are being allocated accurately. The challenge began on March 25 and will run through April 23.

Residents are unable to submit challenge results directly to the state, however, Merit has generated a portal for this purpose. Merit is a nonprofit regional research and education network which will gather residential data from the portal and submit it to the state on behalf of individuals. Community leaders should refer their constituents to the Merit platform to participate in the challenge.

For more information on MAC’s advocacy on broadband, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

MAC-backed bill to expand drug courts awaits House vote

Legislation to expand drug treatment court availability remains on the House floor, likely until a majority is reinstated after upcoming special elections in mid-April.

House Bill 4525, by Rep. Graham Filler (R-Clinton), would amend state law to allow certain offenders to be admitted to a drug treatment court with the approval of the judge, prosecutor and any known victim.

HB 4525 is part of a three-bill package, including HBs 4523 and 4524, by Reps. Kara Hope (D-Ingham) and Joey Andrews (D-Berrien), respectively. The package would expand the use of mental health and drug treatment courts, which are currently limited to nonviolent offenders, to include certain violent offenders ― but again only with approval from a judge and prosecutor and consent of any victim.

The bills were voted out of the Senate; however, they were sent back to the House, as they are required to provide a concurrence vote due to amendments made in the Senate. Despite prior approval in the House, HBs 4523 and 4525 failed to move, and likely will not receive another vote until later this spring.

MAC supports this legislation.

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

 

NACo webinar to give update on ‘elective pay’ under federal IRA

An April 16 webinar from the National Association of Counties is designed to answer county questions about the “elective pay” portion of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

On March 5, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) issued final regulations for the elective pay mechanism established in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Using elective pay, also known as direct pay, counties and other tax-exempt entities can monetize certain clean energy tax credits that they have previously been unable to access due to their lack of tax liability. Treasury also unveiled a new proposed rule to provide criteria regarding the eligibility of certain ownership structures to claim elective pay. During this webinar, counties will hear from Treasury and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on these new regulations and other funding opportunities available under IRA.

To register for the webinar on April 16, which will run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern, click here.

 

County efforts earn Hometown Health Hero awards

The Michigan Public Health Week Partnership, in which MAC participates, has named the recipients for its 2024 Hometown Health Hero awards.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the award, which is presented to individuals and/or organizations that have made significant and measurable contributions to preserve and improve their community’s health. Awardees are selected solely from nominations received. 

Washtenaw County’s Community Voices for Health Equity will receive one of 10 awards this year.

Honorable Mentions will be awarded to:

  • Ottawa County Migrant Health Task Force
  • Kathy Moore, Muskegon County health officer
  • Oakland County Health Division, Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • Cass County Medical Care Facility
  • Women of Ottawa County Health Department

All the awards will be presented on April 10 at 11:30 a.m. in the Atrium of Heritage Hall in the State Capitol. The event is open to the public. The event is held during Michigan Public Health Week, whose theme this year is f “Protecting, Connecting and Thriving: We Are All Public Health.”

 

Give locals a ‘true sharing’ of revenue, MAC tells Senate panel

MAC and other local government groups explained the key to restoring the full meaning of state revenue sharing is creating a dedicated revenue stream and trust fund to exist outside the annual appropriations process to a Senate appropriations panel this week.

“Last year shows that the money that goes to revenue sharing for local units of government is just based on whatever money the state has available. It’s not really based on a true sharing of the state revenue,” said MAC Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth. “When we got to conference committee, local units of government were devalued, and the money was pushed elsewhere.”

Bosworth was referring to this chart (see at right) in her presentation before the General Government Subcommittee that showed how, in FY24, lawmakers backed higher revenue sharing until the waning hours of the budget process. (View her testimony, starting at 33:14 mark.)

To avoid such situations, MAC and others developed a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund plan embodied in House Bill 4274, by Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), and HB 4275, by Rep. Mark Tisdel (R-Oakland). The bills would require that 8 percent of the revenue generated by 4 percentage points of the state’s sales tax rate go into the fund.

Counties would receive 46.14 percent of this total, which would be $273 million in the first year, an increase of nearly $16 million from the current total.

The bills cleared the House last fall with a huge, bipartisan majority.

“All of the things that counties do at the local level are mandated either in the (Michigan) Constitution or by statute,” Bosworth advised the committee in urging adoption of the fund. “There are very few things that counties governments do for their residents that they have the discretion to do. Most of them are mandated.”

This week’s hearing was informational, as the bills are before the Senate Finance Committee. MAC is aiming for Senate action on them once the Legislature returns to sessions on Tuesday, April 8.

To send a ready-made message of support for these bills, just visit MAC’s Advocacy Center.

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

 

Renewable energy industry gives its take on controversial siting law

Solar and wind developers shared a much different interpretation than locals on the new renewable energy siting law in the second in a series of public meetings hosted by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) this week.

MPSC staff heard from developers and their attorneys about their concerns for implementing Public Act 233, which takes effect this November. MAC vigorously opposed the legislation in 2023 that became PA 233.

The law references “each affected local unit of government” numerous times throughout, and while locals have interpreted that to mean the city, village or township, in addition to the county a project lies in, developers say it only applies to the local unit handling the zoning.

During the meeting, they argued that only the primary local unit should receive the $2,000 per megawatt payment and the maximum $75,000 in intervenor funds. A legal representative for the developers strongly cautioned the MPSC that while they may grant a local unit up to $75,000 to contest the MPSC over a permitting decision, they should allocate much less.

Local governments and planning experts spoke during the first session and shared different concerns.

The MPSC must now determine how to proceed through the rule-making process. It is likely these disputes will be elevated, and a court of law may ultimately have to decide how to interpret the legislation. Much of the language in the law was drafted without proper consultation from stakeholders.

The next session is set for April 5 and is open to the public, though the time has not yet been announced. In the meantime, the MPSC is seeking feedback from the public. It has shared a list of questions and have asked that responses be submitted by March 31:

  • What guidance or information are local units of government and communities seeking from the MPSC about implementing the new siting law (Public Act 233)?
  • What lessons learned, resources, or expertise do local units of government and communities have to share with the MPSC?
  • What types of consultant specialties were needed and who are the consultants you worked with in your evaluation of past developer applications?
  • How can the MPSC incorporate local considerations into the process when a developer files an application at the MPSC?
  • How should the MPSC determine the amount of the 1-time grant (up to $75,000 per affected local government and not more than $150,000 in total) for local intervenor compensation?

Responses can be sent to lara-mpsc-commissioners2@michigan.gov or

Michigan Public Service Commission
Attn: Cathy Cole
PO Box 30221
Lansing, MI 48909

MAC encourages members to stay tuned for more information.

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

 

Could ‘perfect user fee’ dig Michigan out of $3 billion hole in county road resources?

Michigan has a nearly $3 billion a year funding gap to maintain its county road network, an expert in the field told MAC’s Podcast 83 in a new special episode.

“We’re short about $2.8 billion a year for county road agencies,” said Ed Noyola, chief deputy and legislative director for the County Road Association of Michigan. “So that is really a number that boggles the mind, and I’m sure it’s going to boggle the minds of our legislators and the governor’s office to include on top of what MDOT needs and what the cities and villages need.”

As daunting as the need is, finding a solution may be more of a challenge, Noyola warned.

“There is no way that the amount of money that we have is going to maintain (the roads) that we all have to maintain and make improvements to, period,” Noyola said.

“We’ve tried not to tell the Legislature what’s the best choice or how much they need to invest in the infrastructure. I don’t think we can play that anymore. I think we have to be direct and honest with them as to how much we need. They can decide whether they can meet that figure or not, but at least we have to tell them how much we need to increase it in the short term,” he explained.

What is a “mileage-based user fee” and how would it work?

A promising new solution, Noyola says is the “mileage-based user fee.”

“It is a perfect user fee. If you drive 10,000 miles, you’re going to pay for 10,000 miles; if you drive 50,000 miles, you’re going to pay for 50,000 miles of road driving.”

Hear more about what the County Road Association thinks needs to be done ASAP on this issue by viewing the full session, recorded on March 5.

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

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

 

Deadline approaching for 1% of revenue sharing payment

Counties are required, as part of the FY2024 budget, to certify that they have fully obligated or expended all their ARP funds by Dec. 31, 2023.

The Michigan Department of Treasury Form 6056 must be completed and submitted to Treasury by March 30.

 As of 8 a.m. on March 18, 40 counties had yet to comply with the reporting to receive the additional 1 percent of their revenue sharing payments.

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

 

Report offers suggestions on spending opioid dollars

Recommendations on how counties could deploy their opioid settlement funds are included in a new report paid for by the Michigan Opioid Partnership.

The partnership, a public-private collaborative including representatives from Michigan state government and key philanthropic organizations and the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT) at the University of Michigan, worked to understand the needs and challenges of community-based recovery organizations in supporting recovery for individuals and families.

CHRT researched gaps and identified opportunities to address those gaps with relation to opioid settlement funding and to develop potential recommendations for state government and local governments. The report outlines areas for investment with opioid settlement funds in the areas of recovery and harm reduction, highlighting specific practices and pointing to Michigan-specific examples of these activities. Primary strategies presented in the report include recovery housing, peer support, recovery community organizations, engagement centers and jail services.

Read the full report here.

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

 

Interested in national policy? Apply for a NACo committee seat

A meeting of one of NACo’s many policy committees.

NACo members have the opportunity to serve on 31 committees, caucuses, task forces and advisory boards to inform national policy-making and help solve problems impacting counties, boroughs and parishes.

Policy Steering Committees

If you want to serve as a member of one of NACo’s 10 policy steering committees, you simply need to email MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie at scurrie@micounties.org. MAC is responsible for these appointments. You do not need to complete any forms. Just list your first and second choices for committees. It is NACo practice to reappoint all members each year, so if you currently serve on a committee as a regular member, you will be renewed automatically. Please note that you can only serve on one Policy Steering Committee.

Leadership (chair/vice chair): All chairs and vice chairs of all committees and subcommittees are appointed by the NACo president each spring, with appointments announced at the NACo Annual Conference in July. Appointments are made through an application process. The Presidential application portal for incoming President Supervisor Jame Gore is currently open through April 26, 2024. You can access the site to apply here. Detailed application instructions are outlined below. Please note that you can only serve on one Policy Steering Committee, so if you are appointed to leadership for a committee, you can’t serve as a member on another Policy Steering Committee. …

READ MORE

 

Forum will focus on mass shootings and local responses

A forum to brief county and other local leaders on resources to prevent and respond to mass shootings will be held on April 17 in Lansing.

“School Mass Shooting & Critical Incident Preparedness Forum: The Role of Local Leaders” which run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Crowne Plaza Lansing, 925 S. Creyts Rd. 

“The MSU and Oxford Village shootings have taught us that a school shooting can happen anywhere at any time. We owe it to our children to be prepared. Give the importance of this issue, former Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley (who responded to a mass shooting in Dayton) and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor will be keynote speakers. They will be joined by subject matter experts who will brief us on crisis communications, victim services, law enforcement training needs, school safety and available resources for county and other local leaders,” explained event organizer Sarah Peck of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University’s School of Law.

Registration link: https://www.chds.us/in/registration/?event=3355

Contact Peck at s.peck@phai.org for questions.

 

Cycling infrastructure for rural areas is topic of MDOT class

Planning and designing approaches for cycling facilities in a “rural context” will be the focus of a three-hour webinar to be offered twice in April by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Each session will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern.

Click here to register for the April 10 session.

Click here to register for the April 30 session.

The program will look deeper into the challenges and solutions for establishing safe and connected bicycle networks within and between rural communities. These concepts will be illustrated using national best practices, case studies and actual projects in rural communities.

This free course is for village, city, township and county managers, engineers, planners and officials.

RSVP by April 5 for the April 10 class or by April 26 for the April 30 class.

The class link will be provided by a separate email prior to the day of the class.

 

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