Whitmer extends ‘Stay at Home’ to May 15, with some changes

Michigan’s “Stay at Home” order will remain in effect until at least May 15, though some provisions of it are being eased, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday.

Her new Executive Order will supersede the existing one that was to run to April 30.

The new version contains a variety of changes:

  • Requiring the use of basic cloth masks in public indoor spaces, such as grocery stores
  • Specifically allowing for more outdoor activities
  • Lifting restrictions on certain business activities
  • Allowing Michigan residents to travel between residences in-state

The new version, however, does retain such restrictions as:

  • 10-person limit on attendance at funerals
  • No gatherings of individuals who are not from the same household
  • A general prohibition on activities that are not essential to public health and life

The governor made these changes on the day Michigan announced it had 36,641 cases and 3,085 deaths from the coronavirus.

 

Legislature creates COVID-19 oversight committee

A 10-member panel of legislators will examine how Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has handled Michigan’s COVID-19 response, the Legislature voted today.

 The committee will be chaired by Rep. Matt Hall (R-Calhoun) and will investigate and consider restricting the powers the governor has and utilized since her original declaration of emergency on March 10, 2020. The move comes after much criticism from Republican leaders in the House and Senate over the governor’s extension of the state of emergency and Stay at Home orders.

Republicans in the House and Senate have forwarded their own proposals on reducing restrictions on business and social activities.

 

Upcoming MIDC decisions will be critical to counties

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission met this week to discuss an upcoming grant manual for local systems, as well as the FY21 grant contract for systems and other items. This was the second meeting the MIDC held virtually. The first virtual meeting was recorded and available on the MIDC website; however, the April meeting minutes and recording are not yet online.

The commission discussed the grant manual proposed by staff during previous meetings and have included many provisions that MAC requested since the initial version. While the agenda was slated for a vote on the manual, Commissioners made additional modification requests and final approval will now take place at the June 16 meeting.  The latest version of the draft grant manual can be found here.

MAC continues to work with MIDC on grant contract language for FY 21. A final version is likely to be voted on by the commission on June 16. Once a final agreement is approved by the MIDC, MAC will update members.

The commission will be putting forward objective standards for the determination of whether a defendant is indigent or partially indigent, as well as the amount a partially indigent defendant must contribute to their defense. This is a requirement of the Commission under the MIDC Act, as amended in 2018. Members have advised MAC that the absence of this standard from MIDC has been problematic, so progress on this issue is appreciated.

For more information, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

No jury trials in Michigan until at least June 22

All jury trials in Michigan are delayed 60 days, until June 22, 2020, under an Administrative Order issued by the Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday.

The court said that local orders that delay trials beyond the June 22 date can stay in place.

The order “also authorizes the State Court Administrative Office to initiate pilot projects related to conducting remote jury trials.”

 You can access the new order by clicking on this link:  Administrative Order No. 2020-10.

 

Governor’s health worker pay boost doesn’t cover skilled nursing facilities

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week announced increased pay for Direct Care Workers providing Medicaid-funded, in-home behavioral health and long-term care services during the coronavirus pandemic by $2 per hour. The increase is temporary and applies to services provided between April and June.

The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC) sought clarity from the Governor’s Office on whether this increase applies to skilled nursing facilities. Recent indications through the Department of Health and Human Services say it does not. Without further confirmation from the Governor’s Office, MCMCFC will move forward as directed by DHHS that nursing homes are not included at this point.

“It is unfortunate that the press release is claiming to support direct care workers that provider services to the most vulnerable, but nursing facilities who care for the states most fragile are excluded,” said Renee Beniak, MCMCFC executive director, “ It is very confusing for our members, and we will continue to seek guidance through these unprecedented times.”

For more information, contact Renee Beniak at renee@mcmcfc.org or Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

MAC to scale back updates to M-W-F schedule

Starting next week, MAC will be scaling back its daily COVID update emails to a schedule of Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If events dictate, MAC will issue special messages on other days.

“We have received excellent feedback from members on these updates,” said Stephan Currie, executive director. “However, in recognition of the huge flow of information coming to county leaders right now, we think a three-per-week pace balances the need to inform with members’ time pressures.”

Updates from this week:

 

NACo sets May 5 webinar on long-range planning

On May 5, county leaders may join a discussion on “Long-range Planning for Health, Equity and Prosperity” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. eastern time. Click here to register

“How do we move beyond talking about equity to building equitable communities and responding equitably to community needs? Long-term community change and immediate crises such as COVID-19 both require significant attention and resources; they both require prioritizing where to focus that attention and those resources; and they both have the potential to increase or reduce health and prosperity inequities. … Join us for this webinar to learn about tools, frameworks, and strategies that will help you integrate equity into your work today in ways that will also help you plan for equity in your community tomorrow.”

For more information contact Kirsty Fontaine at kfontaine@naco.org.

 

Michigan airports receive $257 million in corona rescue funds

Almost 100 airports scattered across Michigan will share in $257 million in federal aid due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. The amounts range from $20,000 for Ontonagon County’s Shuster Field to $142 million for Detroit Metro Wayne County.

Among county-owned airports receiving assistance are:

  • Gogebic-Iron County Airport: $30,000
  • Houghton County Memorial Airport: $1,098,918
  • Chippewa County International Airport: $1,095,968
  • Roscommon County Blodget Memorial: $30,000
  • Ionia County: $30,000
  • Muskegon County: $1,090,341
  • Lenawee County: $30,000

 

Local governments will make $1.1B ask to governor in letter

MAC joined with associations for Michigan’s cities, villages and townships today on a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to advise on distribution of federal aid to local governments dealing with the corona pandemic.

The letter, signed by Executive Director Stephan Currie and his counterparts at the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association, said, “Your letter to the White House correctly identifies a major concern that local governments around Michigan are preparing to face. As you are aware, Michigan’s local governments bore the brunt of the last recession and many are ill-positioned to face another economic downturn without significant support from the state and federal government. With that fact in mind, our three organizations respectfully request that you designate a significant portion of the current CARES Act funding the state is set to receive to cover local government reimbursements and recovery expenses resulting from the current pandemic.”

The groups added, “We urge the state to set aside an equitable amount of money for local units of government to draw down upon to reimburse their eligible, COVID-related expenses. Based on the amount the CARES Act made available to our largest members, we ask that an equitable per capita amount, equal to approximately $1.1 billion, be made available to all other local units of government in Michigan to cover these expenses.”

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

 

Chief justice opens 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference

Highlighted by a presentation from Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, MAC’s 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference started its two-week run on Thursday, April 16.

McCormack detailed her work on a variety of reforms in the judicial branch, particularly the actions taken to reduce the threat to jails posed by corona and administrative orders to allow for virtual court proceedings to help protect the public health.

Best practices for boards was the subject of the second event on Thursday, a workshop led by John Amrhein of MSU Extension on “extraordinary governance.”

Following his presentation, Amrhein took up a variety of questions from commissioners looking for tips on how to boost engagement of their county colleagues.

On Friday, Harmony Gmazel of MSU Extension led a workshop on economic development strategies.

“The first wave is complete,” said Stephan Currie, MAC Executive Director. “We had some glitches, but attendance was strong and pre-registrations for next week’s events are looking good, too.”

The conference resumes on Tuesday, April 21 with a workshop on addressing rising waters in Michigan.

For complete details, including videos of conference events, visit the conference page

 

Governor, Senate Republicans offer thoughts on reopening economy

While COVID-19 will be with us for months to come, Michigan leaders have been planning for how to bring more businesses and workers back online.

This week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined with other governors in region to outline some metrics for easing the current restrictions. They are:

  • Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations. 
  • Enhanced ability to test and trace. 
  • Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence. 
  • And best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

The governor also said on Friday that she’s hopeful to begin easing restrictions on May 1.

Republicans in the Michigan Senate unveiled their own proposal on Thursday to reduce restrictions. And the Trump administration has issued guidance meant for states to consider as this work progresses.

Michigan’s stay-at-home order is in place until April 30, which puts it in a group of 16 states with that date. Another 22 states have orders going past May 1 (New York and Wisconsin extended this week).

 

Chief justice urges counties to seek federal aid

Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack urged state and local governments on April 16 to apply for more than $24 million in Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) made available through the US. Department of Justice’s Bureaus of Justice Assistance. The chief justice also noted this during her discussion with MAC at our opening session of the 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference.

MAC shared information last week with members about the available funding and encourages those that have not already applied to do so as soon as possible. The official deadline is May 29.

Per BJA guidance, “Funds awarded under the CESF Program must be utilized to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to, overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment), hiring, supplies (such as gloves, masks, sanitizer), training, travel expenses (particularly related to the distribution of resources to the most impacted areas), and addressing the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails, and detention centers.

“Funds may not be used to supplant state or local funds but must be used to increase the amounts of such funds that would, in the absence of federal funds, be made available. Funds may not be used for direct administrative costs that exceed 10 percent of the total award amount.”

For any localities that need assistance drawing down funds, the BJA offers a support hotline: 888-549-9901 or GMS.HelpDesk@usdoj.gov. Find the application here

This list of expected eligible entities in Michigan was made available by the BJA last week. If your county was not specifically identified, MAC suggests using the hotline to ask about qualifying.

 

May 5 summit will focus on opioid treatments

Please join the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice for our Opioid Treatment Ecosystem Community of Practice Virtual Summit on Tuesday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Click here to register.

Hear from communities across the state who are implementing processes to provide medications for opioid use disorder within their county jails and leading community-based initiatives to expand the broader treatment ecosystem. An in-person event is being planned for this fall.



New order mandates ‘regional hubs’ for long-term care patients

On Tuesday night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 49 to “to provide limited and temporary relief from certain regulatory requirements to enhance the operational capacity and efficiency of health care facilities.”

The order states, “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will work with long-term care facilities across the state to establish COVID-19 designated regional hubs. These hubs will provide higher levels of care and services to treat patients with increased needs. All other nursing facilities will continue providing care in a traditional manner which may include the care of patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but do not require specialized care and services.” 

Michigan counties are a key provider of long-term care services via the 34 county-owned facilities that are members of the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council. Those facilities operate more than 4,600 beds in locations from Houghton to Hillsdale counties.

 

MAC replaces physical conference with virtual event

Keynote addresses from Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and National Association of Counties Executive Director Matt Chase will bookend a special “virtual edition” of the MAC Legislative Conference between April 16 and 30.

AGENDA AT-A-GLANCE

Conference Page on MAC Website

As Michigan continues to combat the COVID-19 threat, MAC was forced to cancel the usual conference gathering in Lansing that had been set for April 15-17.

“To meet our responsibilities to members for professional development, we have created this free virtual event that extends over two weeks to allow maximum flexibility for participation,” explained Executive Director Stephan Currie. “In addition, all events will be recorded and provided on our website for 24/7 viewing, both during and after the conference.”

McCormack, who has led Michigan’s highest court since January 2019, has been a strong and consistent voice for reforms and innovation in the judicial world, including partnering with

MAC and others on the Jail and Pretrial Incarceration Task Force. (See full bio.) On April 16, she is expected to address that effort, along with such issues as trial court funding, indigent defense, court organization and more. After her address, she will take questions.

On April 30, NACo’s Chase will provide an overview of federal responses to the COVID-19 crisis and how Michigan county leaders can assist NACo in gaining proper assistance for counties as the crisis continues.

Please note that members must pre-register for each conference event they want to view. All events are free to attend virtually. After the event, a recording will be placed on the MAC website for 24/7 viewing.

Save the date: Treasury sets webinar on April 20

The Michigan Department of Treasury, in partnership with the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association, will hold a joint webinar, COVID-19 Updates and Resources for Local Governments, on April 20 at 2 p.m.

Click here to register.

Topics will include local government economic impacts, state resources, and federal funding information. Additionally, there will be a question and answer period. Please submit your questions to Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org by Thursday, April 16.

 

State loosens rules on use of veteran service grants

The Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency (MVAA) this week announced expanding options to counties that have already submitted for County Veteran Service Funds due to COVID-19. Counties can complete a budget amendment to help alleviate some of the emerging financial burdens your veterans are facing under new circumstances.

For counties that did not meet deadlines or were not awarded funds already, the MVAA is waiving some eligibility criteria to allow “emergent, immediate and director financial assistance to its veterans, service members, and eligible family members in your county.” Two options are outlined here.

Questions can be submitted to Marie Douville at douvillem@michigan.gov, and your final application to MVAAGrants@michigan.gov.

 

Revenue sharing checks head to counties on April 30

MAC has confirmed that the April bimonthly payments to counties for FY20 revenue sharing will go out as planned.

The April checks will be the fourth of six regularly scheduled, bimonthly payments to counties.

Counties are slated to receive a grand total of $226.5 million in statutory revenue sharing payments for FY20, which ends Sept. 30.

 

HEROES Act would aim tax holiday at health workers, first responders

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI 2) has introduced the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Emergency Situations (HEROES) Act of 2020, which would provide a four-month federal income tax holiday for medical professionals and first responders, including: law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, doctors, hospital and licensed medical facility support staff and senior care facility staff. In order to be eligible, the qualified first responder must provide services in a county that had at least one positive COVID-19 patient or provides services in a licensed medical facility located in such a county.

The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council supports the measures in the HEROES Act of 2020.

“The HEROES Act is modeled after how members of the military serving in combat zones designated by the Department of Defense are exempted from having to pay federal tax on their income. The legislation also provides the Secretary of the Treasury with the ability to extend the tax holiday for up to an additional three months,” Huizenga said in a statement.

 

Coronavirus relief bill includes $250B for smaller local governments

“On April 7, U.S. Reps. Ben Lujan (D-N.M.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) introduced the Coronavirus Community Relief Fund Act, which would create a new $250 billion coronavirus relief fund for local governments with populations under 500,000,” reported the National Association of Counties. “In addition to providing direct payments from the U.S. Treasury to local governments, the bill would also cover lost revenue due to COVID-19. The bill text can be found here

 

Senate wrangles with fourth federal rescue measure

“On April 9, the U.S. Senate adjourned following stalled negotiations over a fourth ‘interim’ FY 2020 supplemental appropriations package,” reports the National Association of Counties.

“First, Senate Democrats blocked Sen. Mitch McConnell’s attempt to provide $250 billion for small businesses, and then McConnell stopped Democrats’ attempt to pass a proposal (Interim Emergency COVID-19 Relief Act) that would combine the small business aid with several other provisions including: An additional $150 billion in aid to state, tribal and local governments to address necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Of the $150 billion, $53.55 billion would be distributed directly to localities based on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula, which would be administered by the U.S. Treasury within 15 days of the bill’s enactment. The legislation would also allow the funding to be used for lost revenue.

  • $100 billion to bolster hospitals and community health centers, with funds going toward the production of coronavirus tests and protective medical equipment.
  • Fifteen percent increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit and would maintain the current suspension of work requirements for able-bodied adults would be extended for two years.
  • $250 billion to support the SBA’s Payment Protection Program and other economic recovery efforts.
  • Technical fixes to election assistance grants to ensure funding is flexible and targeted to local elections officials.

“Negotiations are likely to continue over the weekend prior to the Senate returning in pro forma session on Monday, April 13.”

For more information on federal policy on COVID-19, visit the NACo resources site.

 

New feature: Staff picks

Starting this week, Legislative Update will feature a round-up of news and information links suggested by members of MAC’s staff:

Understanding the true state of broadband connectivity in America (NACo)

Is America ready for a second wave of coronavirus? (Route Fifty)

State budget fallout: ‘A hurricane that hits all over the country’ (Governing)

How to think about coronavirus like a public health expert (University of Michigan)

 

 

Keynote addresses from Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and National Association of Counties Executive Director Matt Chase were bookends for a “virtual edition” of the MAC Legislative Conference held April 16-30, 2020.

Chief Justice McCormack

As Michigan continues to combat the COVID-19 threat, MAC was forced to cancel the usual conference gathering in Lansing that had been set for April 15-17.

“To meet our responsibilities to members for professional development, we have created this free virtual event that extends over two weeks to allow maximum flexibility for participation,” explained Executive Director Stephan Currie. “In addition, all events will be recorded and provided on our website for 24/7 viewing, both during and after the conference.”

Full Conference Content

Opening Keynote: Court Reform in Michigan in 2020 and Beyond – COMPLETED
April 16
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING
LINK TO SLIDES

Workshop: Leading your Board Toward Extraordinary Governance* – COMPLETED
April 16
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING
LINK TO SLIDES

Workshop: Economic Development and Tax Base Growth Strategies – COMPLETED
April 17
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING
LINK TO SLIDES
LINK TO POST-EVENT Q&A

Workshop: The Water Keeps Rising – COMPLETED
April 21
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING
LINK TO SLIDES

Workshop: Handling OMA and FOIA in New Situations* – COMPLETED
April 22
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING
LINK TO SLIDES & DOCUMENTS

Podcast 83: Special Live Legislative Update – COMPLETED
April 23
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING

Workshop: How the COVID Crisis has Affected State and Local Budgets – COMPLETED
April 28
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING
LINK TO SLIDES

Closing Keynote: The Federal Government’s Response to COVID-19 – COMPLETED
April 30
LINK TO VIDEO RECORDING

*Qualifies for credit for County Commissioner Academy.

AG warns on meeting ‘hijackings’; MAC offers guidance on virtual sessions

As counties (large and small) and other public bodies adapt to physical distancing with virtual meetings, issues are arising with disruptions.

This week, Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a warning about examples of meetings being “hijacked”: 

“We were alerted to this problem by a Michigan reporter who participated in a Zoom conference that was hijacked,” Nessel said. “Since then we have learned of other incidents around the country. There are steps people can take to protect their cybersecurity and we encourage all users to follow the proper procedures to ensure their teleconferences are secure.” 

The warning taken by the Attorney General’s office follows a similar alert made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

To aid counties, MAC has created a tips sheet for running effective virtual sessions.

In addition, the Lansing firm of Cohl, Stoker & Toskey drafted a memo on the legal questions arising out of virtual sessions.

The key to remember is that counties must provide opportunities for the public to listen to and participate in the meeting. However, a county can still set rules for public comment, as you would with a physical meeting, and limit callers to a set time, plus cut off callers who are disturbing the peace/disrupting the meeting with threats, hate speech, etc.

After consulting these documents, if a county has any questions about virtual meetings, send them to melot@micounties.org.

 

MIDC FY21 compliance plan deadline extended 

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission held a special public meeting March 27 to address immediate needs related to COVID-19. A letter was sent to funding units this week outlining the commission decisions and their guidance to counties as they work through these unprecedented times. 

 First, the commission approved a motion that reiterates standards 2 and 4 remain in effect through this crisis. MIDC staff will work to ensure funding units have plans and budgets that can accommodate remote capabilities during this state of emergency.

Additionally, the commission voted to keep standard 1 in effect with strong recommendation to local funding units to lift any restrictions they may have on videoconferencing (webinars) for CLE training.

The commission also approved a motion made by MAC representatives of the Commission to extend the upcoming plan submission deadline from April 30 to May 31. There is no restriction for funding units to submit earlier, and MIDC encourages doing so. However, in the event counties need flexibility or have limited ability to submit plans because of the current circumstances, the required submission deadline will now be May 31.

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

 

MAC webinar goes over Michigan status, fields county questions

During an hour-plus session with administrators and board chairs on April 1, MAC staffers led by Executive Director Stephan Currie detailed Michigan’s current situation and key issues affecting county governments on the front lines of the corona response.

In an extensive Q&A period at the end of the webinar, commissioners and administrators raised the following issues:

Status of filing deadlines for local and state candidates for the 2020 elections: The governor has not issued an EO on this topic. Also, the Michigan Association of County Clerks has advised MAC that they are opposed to such an extension for operational reasons. The clerks understand the difficulties of achieving the signature requirements and instead of an EO that moves the deadline, they are proposing an alternative to achieve the same goal. 

 “I believe we had about 70 people participate, and I know several others wanted to but were themselves on different calls or digital meetings,” said Currie. “So many of these issues are moving targets, but we are doing our best to get answers for our members. As always, I urge everyone to regularly check our resources page at micounties.org for the latest information we have.”

 

Help us tell county stories during crisis

MAC is reaching out to our members to help us collect special stories about county employees responding to the corona crisis. They need not be extensive – just items that show how hard county employees are working for their neighbors in this crisis.

Any photos you have tied to such stories are most appreciated. Please send any material to melot@micounties.org.

We are collecting information our website and will share via our social media channels.

Here’s an example of such stories/vignettes that we are looking for: https://www.naco.org/articles/coronavirus-counties-move-protect-elderly-vulnerable-residents

 

Webinar to support county ‘Stepping Up’ partnerships

On April 30, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET, join a webinar on information to aid counties participating in the “Stepping Up” initiative on mental health in county jails.

Click here to register.

Partnerships and collaboration are considered essential ingredients in establishing an effective continuum of services across the Sequential Intercept Model. SAMHSA’s GAINS Center presents a webinar discussion with practitioners who have established effective partnerships and collaboration across the intercepts to increase services for justice-involved individuals with mental and substance use disorders.

Presenters will share the perspectives and strategies that have been critical to their success.

 

In difficult times, it’s important to focus on gratitude and well-being

Midland Administrator/Controller Bridgette Gransden shared these thoughts with MAC:

Merci. Arigato. Danke. Grazie. Mahalo. Gracias. Thank you. No matter what language, the words that mean thank you have a way of making us feel better. There are many types of happiness: mood, emotions, affective style, life satisfaction, wellbeing, and flourishing. Showing gratitude is an intentional activity that can help us increase life satisfaction and make us happier. Happy people are more likely to succeed, have more fulfilling relationships, and be both physically and mentally healthier — who wouldn’t want that?

Showing gratitude sounds easy. As a child you were likely taught to say please and thank you and right on cue that’s what you do. Although a general “thank you” is positive, research has shown that we get more of a happiness boost when we describe in detail what we are grateful for and so does the person to whom we are expressing our gratitude. What exactly are we grateful for? What was the emotional impact? How did that make you feel? You get the idea. … READ MORE

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