Public Notice bills no help to locals

A two-bill package “modernizing” public notice postings passed out of the Senate this week. SB 258 sponsored by Sen. Vanderwall (R-Mason) and SB 259 sponsored by Sen. Santana (D-Wayne) would modify the definition of a newspaper to mean a newspaper in an adjoining jurisdiction if one was not available in the county. 

The bill would also require the posting of the notice on a website hosted by the newspaper.  Neither of those modifications help to curb the cost of the postings, alleviate the unnecessary details of many of the posting requirements, nor do they assist locals in meeting the publicized notice timeline should a newspaper fail to print the notice in a timely manner. 

MAC offered several amendments to the legislation that were rejected.  The intent of the amendments was to limit the cost of the public notices to a government rate, to allow for partial posting of information with a link to more information, and to allow the posting online to count toward the deadline needed to meet notice posting timelines. The bills have been referred to the House committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance. MAC will continue to advocate for amendments to make this legislation beneficial to counties. 

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

Mental health transport option moved by committee

Under Senate Bill 101, sponsored by Rep. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), a county board of commissioners would be allowed to contract with a private security company to transport individuals for involuntary hospitalization or screening. The opportunity under the bill will allow county boards to address the many logistical issues that law enforcement officers have to work through when they must transport an individual.

The board would have to establish a county mental health transportation panel, which must include certain members, before entering into a contract. The purpose of the panel would be to recommend a transportation mechanism to serve as an alternative to a peace officer’s transporting an individual to the board. The panel would make sure the company meets the criteria as set forth under the statute, if passed.

The substitute bill that passed the Senate Health Policy and Human Services committee included additional language to protect counties from liability and ensure a private security company would have to maintain insurance coverage. The bill now awaits further action by the full Senate.

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

NACo hosting webinar featuring Michigan’s jail reforms

County jails are a major local expense and jail populations across the country have tripled since the 1970s. While state lawmakers may think of jails as the county’s responsibility, many of the laws and policies that determine who goes to jail and for how long are made at the state level. Everything from determining what’s a crime, when to arrest someone, how to make pretrial release and sentencing decisions, and how to handle probation violations and unpaid fees, to things like funding for mental health services in the community. County officials often have broad discretion, but they’re not solely responsible for the growth in our jails.
 
Safely reducing jail populations has taken on even more importance during the pandemic as congregate care settings have fueled the spread of COVID-19.
 
Join us on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. (noon central time) for a half hour webinar featuring the work of the Michigan Association of Counties, which formed a county-state partnership to safely reduce jail populations, and read more about their work here!

FY22 budget includes County Incentive Program requirements

The state’s County Incentive Program (CIP) will continue through FY 2022 after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the state budget into law last week. The Michigan Department of Treasury has released guidance for qualifying counties to begin their application process to receive their full CIP payments.

The program’s document requirements include:

  • City, village, and township revenue sharing and County Incentive Program certification
  • Citizens’ guide  
  • Performance dashboard
  • Debt service report
  • Projected budget report

All required documents must be available for public viewing in the county clerk’s office or posted on a public website. The due date to receive full CIP payments is Dec. 1, 2021. Detailed information can be found on the Michigan Department of Treasury’s CIP website.

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

Conference draws more than 300 to Mackinac Island; President Kuyers urges unity

More than 300 county leaders from across Michigan converged on Mackinac Island this week for the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference, which culminated with the swearing in of Ottawa Commissioner Phil Kuyers as MAC Board president.

The conference, which was held at the Grand Hotel Sept. 26-28, featured plenary sessions, policy breakouts and the MAC Annual Business Meeting, where commissioners approved policy platforms for the 2021-22 year.

Kuyers, who is starting his third term on the MAC Board, is the 113th person to hold the president’s position.

In his speech after taking the oath on Monday, Sept. 27, Kuyers pledged to “raise up MAC as an example of unity, of bipartisanship, of civility and of common sense” in a time of controversy and high passions.

“You are here tonight and at this conference because you believe in the value of MAC. I urge you to lean on this organization like you never have before. Our comfort zone is gone, another victim of the pandemic. Expectations of county government are rising on new fronts from broadband service to affordable housing,” Kuyers continued. “MAC stands ready to help each of you, and your colleagues who are not here tonight, with navigating these new issues. But we must work together.”

Keynote addresses at the event included presentations by Deputy State Budget Director Bethany Wicksall and Dave Lorenz, who leads the highly popular Pure Michigan travel campaign.

Kuyers will lead a board that gained one new member via elections held at the conference: Melissa Daub of Wayne County. She will fill one of the three at-large seats on the MAC Board of Directors.

As the conference closed, the MAC Board confirmed officers for the 2021-22 term. Joining Kuyers are Stan Ponstein of Kent County (first vice president) and Eileen Kowall of Oakland County (second vice president). Veronica Klinefelt of Macomb County moves to the role of immediate past president.

“We were pleased with the attendance at our first in-person conference in two years,” said Stephan W. Currie, MAC’s executive director. “It speaks to the quality of the policy breakouts and keynote presentations that more than 300 county leaders set aside the time to join us.”

 

Governor calls mask-budget links unconstitutional in budget message

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the FY22 state budget this week, but only after a few line-item vetoes and deeming certain boilerplate provisions unconstitutional and unenforceable.

The budget presented to the governor included language that “unappropriated” funding of local public health departments if a heath officer has an emergency order in place authorized under the Public Health Code- unless a county board of commission votes to support the order.

In a letter to lawmakers, the governor stated that penalizing local health departments for using their power given to them by the Public Health Code violates the Michigan Constitution. The letter cites both Article 3, section 2 and Article 4, section 25, which provide for separation of powers and no act is to be amended by reference, respectively.  

For more information on this issue, please see the text of the transmittal letter or contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

U.S. Treasury resets key deadline on ARP reporting

The U.S. Treasury has revised its timeline for counties to submit their Project and Expenditure Reports for the Fiscal Recovery Fund.

Treasury has set aside the original deadline of Oct. 31, 2021, citing comments and feedback gathered during the Interim Report and Recovery Plan Performance Report process.

The Project and Expenditure Reports will now be due on Jan. 31, 2022, and will cover the period between award date and Dec. 31, 2021. Further instructions will be provided at a later date, including updates to existing guidance as well as a user guide to assist recipients to gather and submit the information through Treasury’s Portal. 

Please visit the Treasury’s website at www.Treasury.gov/SLFRPReporting for the latest information.

 

Presentations from 2021 Annual Conference now available

Presentation slides from all of the plenary sessions and MAC policy breakouts at the 2021 Annual Conference are now available on the MAC website.

Among the highlights are:

  • A breakdown of the state budget process by Deputy State Budget Director Bethany Wicksall
  • The MAC Legislative Update
  • A primer on Michigan’s voting process by Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck
  • Research studies on the problems with, and potential solutions for, Michigan’s local taxation system

Also on the conference page, you will find Facebook videos of three of the breakout sessions.

 

FY22 budget deal announced; 2% boost on revenue sharing expected

A fiscal 2022 state budget deal is in hand, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders announced this week, just days before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.

The Legislature is set to push through a single omnibus spending bill covering the funding for all state departments for FY22. The House and Senate Conference Committee could take up the bill as soon as Tuesday, Sept. 21, with a floor vote expected within the week. Although, details have yet to be released as to what’s inside this budget, MAC is expecting a 2 percent increase in county revenue sharing.

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

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

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

 

MAC-opposed mental health bills get hearing in Senate

Two bills to revamp the state’s mental health system in ways opposed by MAC received their first hearing before the Senate Government Operations Committee this week.

Senate Bills 597-598 would shift administration of Medicaid mental health services to private health plans through the creation of specialty integrated plans. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R- Jackson) sponsored SB 597 and also chairs the committee; SB 598 is sponsored by Sen. John Bizon (R-Calhoun).

In testimony before the committee, the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan (CMHAM) outlined opposition and major areas of concern, including higher costs and lack of public accountability and oversight. Rather than dismantling the current system, CMHAM urged legislators to build from the point of service delivery, rather than taking a top-down financial approach these bills seek to integrate.

Nearly all testimony this week encouraged lawmakers to focus on improving access and staffing shortages across the workforce. Representatives from the Michigan Association of Health Plans testified in support for the bills. A full video of testimony can be found here.

MAC has long opposed a shift to a private health plans and supports local governance and accountability rooted in the mental health code. This structure allows partnerships across county-based services, including responding to those who come in contact with the county sheriff department and/or jail, local court system, juvenile justice system, health department or local hospital.

Another committee hearing is expected to be held on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.

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

 

Regional meetings set for ARP local government funding

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

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

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

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

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

Program details

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

All events are free.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Treasury releases information on finalizing Interim Final Report on COVID aid

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

Key points include:

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

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

 

Podcast 83 returns to live sessions Monday; register now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supreme Court sets Sept. 22 hearing on court rules

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

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

 

August Michigan Counties looks at juvenile justice, policing reforms

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

Also included in this edition are:

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

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

 

MAC offices to observe Labor Day holiday

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

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

 

Assisted Outpatient Treatment is topic of next MDHHS webinar

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

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

Click here to register.

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

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

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

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

 

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