House GOP releases county-oriented COVID plan, bill

A new plan and legislation from the House Republican Caucus would require counties to adhere to state health rules on COVID-19, unless they could meet five criteria to adopt less restrictive rules.

The plan incorporated in House Bill 6314, by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Shiawassee), says counties must follow Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) emergency orders, unless certain standards are met. If all five are met, the county health officer may issue directives that are equal to or less restrictive than the state order.

The criteria that must be met include, within a 14-day period:

  • Confirmed cases at or below 55 per 1 million
  • Percentage of positive tests below 5%
  • Hospitalization rates have not increased 25%

Additionally, health facilities in the served areas must have a “surge capacity of at least 20 percent in admissions or patient transfers,” and must also have at least a 14-day supply of PPE available. The service area must be able to conduct 15 tests per 10,000 residents per day and receive results within three days.

Many counties participate in multi-county health districts. For those who do, the calculations in the criteria mentioned above would have to be met by each county individually.

Under the bill, if a county no longer meets two or more of the requirements during a seven-day period, the county health officer order is no longer valid, and the county reverts back to the emergency order issued by MDHHS. The county health officer can issue subsequent orders once the county meets the criteria again previously mentioned.

MAC has not taken a position yet on this bill but will be reviewing it with our internal committees in upcoming days. Additionally, MAC is seeking input and guidance from local public health experts.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Commission sets ‘Indigency Standard’ at October session

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission revised the “Indigency Standard” this week at a meeting after receiving public comment in September. The final standard sets indigency, partial indigency and contribution standards for local systems, as statutorily required. The full text can be found here.

The standard now heads to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which has final approval of all MIDC-set standards.

The commission also released its October 2020 update, which includes important information and resources for fourth quarter reporting.

Comments can be submitted to LARA-MIDC-info@michigan.gov. All comments will be posted on the MIDC’s website.

The MIDC is also anticipating approval of Standard 5 in upcoming months. Standard 5 sets standards for an indigent criminal defense services to be independent of the judiciary. If approved, the next round of county plan and cost analyses will include this new standard.

The Legislature and governor funded MIDC grants at $117.5 million in FY21. It is expected that Standard 5 will create additional costs in the upcoming fiscal year. MAC stands ready to continue to advocate for full funding by the state, as constitutionally required, as more standards are approved.

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

 

New COVID requirements for nursing homes are now law

Several requirements pertaining to the state’s COVID-19 nursing home policy are now law after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 1094 this week.

The bill, by Sen. Pete Lucido (R-Macomb), also requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to adopt statewide policy by Nov. 15.

Additionally, the department must create a process for the creation of Care and Recovery Centers (CRCs) within nursing homes for those residents who test positive for COVID, similar to what the state moved toward after the nursing home task force recommendations were released.

Under the law, an individual cannot be admitted to a nursing home if they are positive for COVID-19, receiving treatment at a hospital and have less than 72 hours in the isolation period. Starting Nov. 15, the individual cannot be admitted to a nursing home if the person tests positive for COVID-19, but there are certain exemptions.                        

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

MDHHS expands Behavioral and Opioid Health Home initiatives

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) says it will expand the Behavioral Health Home (BHH) and Opioid Health Home (OHH) initiatives “in select Michigan counties to provide intensive care management and care coordination services for Medicaid beneficiaries with a serious mental illness (SMI) or serious emotional disturbance (SED), and an opioid use disorder (OUD), respectively.

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved Michigan’s State Plan Amendments (SPAs) to expand its Behavioral and Opioid Health Home initiatives. The expanded SPAs will allow thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries meeting the eligibility criteria to receive BHH or OHH services in the following Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan (PIHP) regions:

BHH

  • PIHP Region 1 (counties in the Upper Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 2 (21 northern-most counties of the Lower Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 8 (Oakland County)

OHH

  • PIHP Region 1 (counties in the Upper Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 2 (21 northern-most counties of the Lower Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 4 (specifically Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties)
  • PIHP Region 9 (Macomb County)

“In Michigan, half of Medicaid beneficiaries have an untreated mental illness, and more than two-thirds have an untreated substance use disorder. Health Homes are a proven model to increase access to coordinated and integrated care, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/IHH. For BHH-specific information, including eligibility and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/BHH; for OHH-specific information, including eligibility and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/OHH.

 

Staff picks

Registration opens for 2020 New Commissioner Schools

To aid newly elected commissioners, and promote continuing education among veteran ones, MAC again is partnering with MSU Extension (MSUE) for the biennial New Commissioner Schools.

Registration is now open for this year’s series, which will be the first all-digital series in the event’s history.

“The value of these sessions for commissioners, new or not, is tremendous,” said Stephan Currie, MAC executive director. “We work closely with MSUE on content to ensure its direct application to the challenges and opportunities that commissioners encounter every day.”

With the digital format, sessions will open Nov. 12 and not conclude until mid-December, allowing attendees a great deal of flexibility on dates and times. In addition, registrants will have 24/7 access to previously released sessions – what MSUE calls “self-paced, asynchronous learning.”

MAC’s Currie will offer taped remarks to registrants, and MAC is sponsoring the segment on the Open Meetings Act, a particularly salient issue right now, led by Matt Nordfjord of the firm of Cohl, Stoker and Toskey.

Full details on the schedule of sessions can be found here.

Registration for the event, which carries a $95 fee, starts here.

Also, commissioners and commissioners-elect earn credits in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy for their participation in the New Commissioner Schools.

CCA operates on a two-year sequence, starting after an election. Participants earn continuing education “hours” by attending designated events and workshops. “Certification” is offered at two different levels: “Certified” is reached at 10 hours over a two-year cycle, while “Advanced” is reached with 20 hours over a four-year period. “Hours” will not be limited to MAC events. Commissioners can earn via attendance at MSUE-sponsored events or even sessions hosted by the Treasury Department or elsewhere.

A New Commissioner School equates to 5 credit hours, for example.

“We strongly encourage all members to consider these sessions,” Currie said, “and we look forward to seeing everyone online.”

 

Changes to Open Meetings Act allow for expanded remote sessions

Changes to the Open Meetings Act to allow county boards, under any circumstance, to continue to conduct virtual sessions through the end of the year are the governor’s signature away from being law, a signature that is expected late Friday afternoon

Senate Bill 1108 also allows for retroactive authorization for virtual sessions dating back to March 18, 2020, to ensure the validity of board actions taken during the pandemic. This blanket authorization expires on Jan. 1, 2021, but the bill will still allow for virtual participation in meetings in such circumstances as a commissioner’s medical condition and when the county or the state is operating in a state of emergency.

Legislation cleared the Senate and House earlier this week by bipartisan majorities. (MAC thanks members who participated in our advocacy campaign to the House this week for this result. Your voices make a difference in Lansing.) The bill was part of a huge wave of legislation passed this week that was sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature Friday.

The legislation allows county boards to meet electronically, in whole or in part, as follows:

March 18, 2020-Jan. 1, 2021, for “any circumstance, including but not limited to,” military leave, state or local emergency declaration, or for a medical condition”

Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2021, for “only those circumstances requiring accommodation of members absent due to military duty, a medical condition, or a statewide or local state of emergency”

After Dec 31, 2021, only for reason of military duty

If a member of the public body is participating remotely due to military duty or a medical condition, the accommodation only applies to that individual and the other members must by physically present at the meeting.

Each member of the public body that is meeting remotely must announce the county, city, township or village and state from which the member is attending remotely, and it must be included in the meeting minutes.

Quick passage of this legislation was a top priority for MAC in the wake of the litigation against the 1945 law that the governor had used for her Executive Orders during the pandemic.

For more information on OMA options, view the latest episode of MAC’s Podcast 83, sponsored by DTE, which featured Matt Nordfjord of the firm of Cohl, Stoker and Toskey answering questions on the law. 

 

Legislature adopts COVID care immunity, policy bills

During a Tuesday session that stretched into Wednesday morning, the Legislature revised laws to codify various orders that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had made during the pandemic, but which had been nullified when the Michigan Supreme Court said the 1945 law underpinning the orders was unconstitutional. Among actions taken was on immunity for nursing facilities, as well as implementation of the COVID-19 nursing home task force recommendations.

House Bill 6159, by Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Isabella), would provide immunity protections for medical care facilities during COVID-19 response efforts from March 29 through July 14, 2020. The final text of this bill can be found here. The bill now heads to the governor for review. 

Senate Bill 1094, by Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb), was also passed by both chambers. It adds many requirements for the state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), including adoption of policy as recommended by the nursing home COVID-19 Task Force and to identify labs that will process COVID tests from nursing homes by Nov. 15.

MDHHS must create a process for the creation of care and recovery centers (CRCs) within nursing homes for those residents who test positive for COVID “who have not met the criteria for the discontinuation of transmission-based precautions from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

A home wishing to operate a CRC would apply to DHHS and must adhere to several requirements. An individual cannot be admitted to a nursing home if they are positive for COVID-19, receiving treatment at a hospital and have fewer than 72 hours in the isolation period. Starting Nov. 15, the individual cannot be admitted to a nursing home if the person tests positive for COVID-19 unless they have since recovered, the nursing home is a CRC or the nursing home can meet the requirements under (1)(e). A nursing facility can continue to admit and care for a COVID-positive resident, through Dec. 31, 2020, under certain exemptions. 

The full text of the bill, which is now before the governor, can be found here.

Lastly, House Bill 6137, by Rep. Leslie Love (D-Wayne) was passed by the House regarding reporting requirement for MDHHS and nursing home data. The full list requirements can be found in the bill here. 

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

 

Jail Task Force-inspired bills advance in Senate

Legislation that will reduce burdens on county jails and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s criminal justice system were voted out of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee this week. MAC supports these reforms.

House Bills 5844 and 5854-57 remove mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain offenses. Removal of such sentences would mean a court could impose any term of imprisonment, up to the statutory maximum specified for an offense. For certain driving while intoxicated offenses, the legislation prohibits a judge from waiving the minimum, unless the offender successfully completes a specialty court program, such as a drug treatment or sobriety court.

Additionally, bills removing driver’s licenses sanctions for non-related driving offenses were also passed by the House. HBs 5846-5852 would eliminate various license suspensions unrelated to dangerous driving, such as failure to appear for court or failing to pay child support.

The Senate committee also voted out SB 1152, by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Wayne), that requires jails to provide certain accommodations to an incarcerated woman who is pregnant. The bill requires jails to provide pregnancy tests, a holding place for breastmilk, and access to an OB-GYN, nurse midwife, or doula services.

At this time, MAC opposes the Geiss bill due to unknown costs related to some of the previously mentioned services and liability connected to the requirements. See the full fiscal analysis for further cost impact to counties. 

MAC’s opposition testimony can be found here.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

State again seeks input on five-year Health IT Roadmap for Michigan 

The Michigan Health Information Technology Commission has begun developing a Statewide Five-Year Health IT Roadmap. This Roadmap will be a guide for future planning, investments and governance of health information technology (HIT) and health information exchange (HIE) for the state of Michigan.

The next step is to gather input from stakeholders across the health and human services ecosystems in Michigan on current and future HIT and HIE needs, capabilities and gaps. Please ensure your input is included by participating in the survey and sharing your organization’s insights relevant to health information technology and health information exchange.

The appropriate individual(s) in your organization should complete this survey by Nov. 17, 2020. This survey should take no longer than about 20 minutes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, critical HIT and HIE services to support real-time, clinical interventions, care coordination, referrals to social support services, and research is imperative to supporting the health and well-being of the communities we serve. Your candid perspective in response to the survey questions will be very valuable and appreciated.

More information on the Statewide Five-Year Health IT Roadmap and other opportunities to engage in the process can be found here.

 

MAC-backed OMA bill clears Senate; quick House vote expected

A bill to change the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to allow remote attendance at local board meetings under certain circumstances was approved 36-2 by the Michigan Senate Thursday and now heads to the House for quick consideration.

Senate Bill 1108, by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Livingston), however, gained many changes during the Senate floor debate that did not exist in the bill approved by the Senate Local Government Committee. 

The version now before the House will allow members of public bodies to meet remotely due to medical leave (current law), a medical condition or a state or local emergency, through Dec. 31, 2021. 

MAC heard from numerous members concerned about board actions taken since April 30, when the governor’s authority to extend the State of Emergency unilaterally and implement further Executive Orders was deemed unconstitutional by a majority of the Michigan Supreme Count. (Reminder: MAC legal counsel advises that the EOs are still in place as the federal court has yet to rule in the challenge against them.)

To address this issue, the bill would apply retroactively to April 30, 2020, and provide that the remote meeting could take place under any circumstance. Since the governor’s state of emergency declaration has been called into question, and not all counties have declared a local emergency, this would ensure board actions since April 30 that took place over an electronic platform are covered by law.

In an unexpected turn of events, an additional amendment was added so remote capabilities revert to current law (remote participation only for a military absence) on Jan. 1, 2021. This caused much confusion, as it conflicted with allowing meetings through limited circumstances through December 2021. MAC staff has verified this was an error in drafting and the bill should revert to current law on Jan. 1, 2022, as consideration continues.

Despite this confusion, MAC is still supportive of the latest version, so long as the House addresses the date error.

MAC encourages members to speak to their representatives this weekend and remind them of the importance of this legislation. The House is expected to come back to session on Tuesday, Oct. 12 to act. Please remind them, as a county commissioner, interfacing directly with the public is preferable, but under the current COVID-19 situation, we need this bill to allow county officials to decide what is best for their community and provide safe measures for all residents, while continuing to govern and address county needs.

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

 

OMA changes advance out of Senate committee

Revisions to the state’s Open Meetings Act advanced this week in the Legislature, as the Senate Committee on Local Government approved Senate Bill 1108, by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Livingston). The bill, which MAC supports, would allow a public body to meet electronically under certain circumstances, with protections to ensure notice and public participation.

Under current law, a public body can accommodate, by allowing remote participation, the absence of a member of the body due to military duty. SB 1108 would extend this provision to accommodate a member due to a medical condition or due to a state or local emergency declaration. The bill requires an electronic meeting to have notice posted at least 18 hours before the meeting begins and must explain why the public body is holding the meeting electronically and how the public may participate.

The bill awaits action by the full Senate. A House bill that would make the similar changes, House Bill 6207 by Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Ottawa), has yet to receive a hearing.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Broadband grants bill headed to governor

A bill to create a new broadband grant program flew through the Senate this week, despite opposition from MAC, other local government groups and education groups.  

House Bill 4288, by Michele Hoitenga (R-Wexford), would require the Department of Technology, Management and Budget to award grants for projects that extend broadband service into unserved areas. It also, however, prohibits the DTMB from awarding money to a governmental entity or educational institution, to own, purchase, construct or operate a communications network, which is why MAC opposes the legislation.

The state’s FY21 budget includes $14 million for the grant program; however, the bill will prohibit local governments and educational institutions from accessing the funds.

HB 4288 now goes to the governor for her signature.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at Keit@micounties.org.

 

Governor proposes $500 million for water infrastructure around Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week a $500 million proposal to invest in water infrastructure across Michigan. Thanks to a recent federal amendment by Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.), states have a one-time window to transfer federal funds for clean water into their drinking water revolving fund for investment into the assessment and replacement of drinking water lines.  Of the $500 million proposed by the governor, $207 million, which does not require legislative approval, will be allocated for:   

  • Lead Service Line Replacement in Disadvantaged Communities Program – $102 million 
  • Lead and Copper – Drinking Water Asset Management Grants – $37.5 million 
  • PFAS and Emerging Contaminants – Contamination and Consolidation Grants – $25 million 
  • Non-Lead Drinking Water Infrastructure Grants – $35 million 
  • Affordability and Planning Grants – $7.5 million 

These funds will be in addition to the $14 million appropriated by the Legislature in the FY21 budget for additional lead service line replacements. 

On the other side of the clean water equation, the governor proposes utilizing the remaining $293 million in available Great Lakes Water Quality bond authority. All proposed expenditures under this category will require legislative approval.  The proposal calls for a series of expenditures for:

  • Clean Water Infrastructure Grants (eliminating sanitary sewer overflows; correcting combined sewer overflows; increasing green infrastructure) – $235 million   
  • Substantial Public Health Risk Grants (removing direct and continuous discharges of raw sewage from surface or ground water) – $20 million 
  • Failing Septic System Elimination Program – $35 million 
  • Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater Grants – $3 million 

Although this proposal is nowhere near enough to fully address the clean water and drinking water issues in Michigan, it is nonetheless a start to solving the problems. During a brief call this week, the governor and the director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy gave a brief overview of the sources of revenue and the proposed expenditures. More details on how to apply for the grants will be forthcoming on another webinar slated for Oct. 14, 2020. MAC will send out information on how to participate on the webinar once details are provided.

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

 

Tax foreclosure legislation gets Senate committee’s nod

Bills to adopt a new process for handling property tax foreclosures in the wake of the Rafaeli v Oakland County decision were passed out of the Senate Finance Committee this week.

Senate Bill 1137, by Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Oakland), and SB 676, by Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb), would create a process by which a previous property owner would be eligible to claim excess proceeds once a property that was foreclosed upon for non-payment of taxes and subsequently sold to either a local unit of government or auctioned off to the highest bidder. Proceeds from these sales are subject to reimbursement first to the foreclosing governmental unit for deposit into the delinquent tax revolving fund, and for reimbursement of costs associated with the foreclosure process. Claims by a former owner would have to be evaluated by a circuit court before proceeds would be disbursed to them.

There are no provisions in this legislation, however, to provide financial relief to the foreclosing governmental entity should a property sell for less than the amount of the taxes and expenses. MAC is seeking an amendment to the bills to require an annual report that would calculate the total chargebacks to local units under such shortfall scenarios, as well as the additional unredeemed expenses on counties. This will be a critical piece of information so we may determine, in the future, the financial harm to local governments. In addition, MAC is pursuing a bill to give counties the opportunity to surrender their status as the foreclosing governmental unit to the state. Right now, seven counties in Michigan have the state handle these foreclosures.

More action is anticipated on this issue during the lame duck session of the Legislature in November and December.

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

 

Changes to utility Personal Property Tax reviewed by Senate panel

Bills to eliminate the Personal Property Tax (PPT) on solar energy facilities and energy storage systems were reviewed this week by the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Oakland).

Senate Bill 1105, by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason), and SB 1106, by Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Tuscola), would exempt these renewable energy facilities from PPT and replace the tax with a payment in life of taxes (PILT) model at the rate of $3,500 per megawatt.

Testimony from solar industry officials reflected their desire for a standardized tax liability on this equipment; to eliminate the court challenges to assessed value; for a steady financial liability as opposed to an annual assessment and depreciation schedule; and for a more attractive environment for investment.

MAC, however, testified in opposition to the legislation for several reasons, while acknowledging some potential benefits to such a scheme for counties. On the plus side, this type of proposal, if financially beneficial and fair, would provide a predictable and steady revenue stream to local governments since there would no longer be a depreciation schedule and declining revenue over the life of the project. In addition, there would be significantly fewer court battles with the developers.

But MAC opposes the legislation right now because the proposed PILT payment may or may not be an appropriate level of payment, compared to the current system of assessment and taxation in any given community. In recent weeks, MAC has participated in many conversations regarding the proposal and is pleased to report the State Tax Commission (STC) has convened an ad hoc committee to come up with a consistent methodology to assess this equipment. That recommendation should be completed before the end of 2020. MAC is awaiting these recommendations before determining if the proposed $3,500 per megawatt rate is an equitable exchange.

The bills were not voted out of committee this week and won’t be addressed again until the lame duck session begins in November.

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

 

Designated assessor deadline is Dec. 31

Public Act 660 of 2018 requires each county in the state to have a Designated Assessor of Record on file with the State Tax Commission by Dec. 31, 2020. House Bill 6049, by Rep. James Lower (R-Ionia), would establish quality assessing requirements and a process by which to address those assessing districts that failed to achieve substantial compliance with those requirements.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has issued guidance on the process for identifying a designated assessor, a checklist for the interlocal agreement and the forms necessary for approval. For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Behavioral health transformation put on ‘pause’

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced this week it was putting its behavioral health transformation efforts on pause, given the challenges and response around COVID-19.  

Starting in late 2019, the DHHS began the process to develop a new strategy for Michigan’s behavioral health systems. Earlier this year, Department Director Robert Gordon and Deputy Director George Mellos presented on the department’s behavioral health system transformation project that would include new specialty integrated Medicaid plans. The department wants SIPs to manage physical and behavioral health for those with significant needs and allow the community mental health providers to provide safety net services.

Forums around the state were held and concerns were raised by public mental health providers and county leaders related to the state’s proposal. MAC members are strongly supportive of the county structure remaining central to ensure public oversight and response is in the best interest of persons served through the mental health system.

While the current transformation project has been put on hold, MAC will continue to stay engaged and stand ready to partner with the state and industry stakeholders to ensure the systems supports are in the best interest of all residents.

 

$80 million in opioid grants announced by state

The state will issue $80 million in federal State Opioid Response (SOR) funds to “support prevention, treatment and harm reduction services,” the Governor’s Office and the state’s Opioid Task Force announced this week. The funding includes $36.4 million from the new State Opioid Response II (SOR II) grant and $43.1 million from an extension of the current State Opioid Response I (SOR I) grant.

MAC is a member of the Michigan Opioids Task Force Stakeholder Advisory Group, which is tasked with identifying barriers and improve coordinated services for individual with opioid use disorder. The group has identified needs such as expansion of medication assisted treatment, access to transportation and housing services, and improving diversion efforts so individuals with OUD are not in county jails.

A summary of how the new SOR II grant supports the state’s opioids strategic plan is available here

A summary of current projects supported by SOR I funding is available here

A number of county jails have participated in programs in coordination with the Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice. For more information, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

Organizations interested in participating in these programs – including treatment providers, hospitals, community organizations, law enforcement agencies and others – are encouraged to reach out to regional representatives. Inquiries about statewide strategy can be directed to MDHHS-OpioidsTaskForce@michigan.gov.

For more information on the state’s opioids crisis response, visit https://www.michigan.gov/Opioids.

 

Register for Treasury’s Chart Chat webinar on Oct. 15

The Michigan Department of Treasury is pleased to announce its next Chart Chat webinar on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. This Chart Chat will cover changes to the Uniform Chart of Accounts, implementation dates for the Chart of Accounts, information about yearly qualifying statement submissions, and how to monitor fiscal health using cash ratio.

To register for this event, please visit https://chartchat.eventbrite.com.

Treasury is accepting questions for the Q&A portion of the webinar. To submit a question, please email LAFD_Audits@Michigan.gov by Friday, Oct.9.

 

Staff picks

 

Counties skirt fiscal danger in FY21 budget deal

Ending a long period of behind-the-scenes work by key legislators and the Whitmer administration, the Legislature moved rapidly today to pass budget bills for the state fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

In all major program areas, counties avoided cuts in funding that were once feared, and would have badly hampered members’ ability to provide key local services:

  • Counties will receive their revenue sharing at levels established in fiscal year 2020, which totals more than $226 million.
  • The deadline to pay hazard pay to first responders is extended to Oct. 31 (from the previous Sept. 30).
  • Indigent Defense grants are funded for $117.5 million.
  • About $4.2 million is provided for behavioral health training and crime victim support, as recommended by the Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.
  • The County Jail Reimbursement Program will receive $14.8 million.
  • The Secondary Road Patrol program will receive $13.1 million.
  • The Community Corrections program will receive $13.2 million.
  • Counties will have access to $4 million for Veteran Service Fund grants.
  • Local road agencies will receive a $35 million increase from FY20 levels from the Michigan Transportation Fund.
  • About $13 million is cut, however, from General Fund appropriations for the local bridge program.
  • An increase of $27 million in federal funds is included for local public airports.
  • Local public health funding was kept at FY20 levels: $51.4 million.
  • The Child Care Fund will receive $254.3 million.
  • Includes $3.5 million in Child Care Fund indirect cost payments.
  • Match requirements for non-Medicaid community mental health (CMH) services will continue in a way that saves counties $5 million.

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

 

Expungement bill gets final legislative approval

Legislation that expands expungement of convictions and creates an automatic process for such actions is on its way to the governor after the Senate approved House Bill 4980 by a vote of 29-8. Under the bill, and beginning in two years (subject to an appropriation), certain offenses will be set aside without the filing of an application. 

The bill directs the Department of Technology, Management and Budget to develop a computer-based program for setting aside of records. The Department of State Police must also have an accessible record of each conviction and ensure it is accessible to each court in the state. The governor is given authority under the bill to postpone implementation by 180 days if it determined there are technological limitations.

Additionally, a fund will be created for implementation costs, necessary systems upgrades and any staffing needs that may be required as the automatic process is developed.

MAC advises county commissioners to work with court administration and clerks, as systems vary among courts. System changes that the state implements over the next two years may affect local systems in different ways and should be covered by the state as to avoid a Headlee Amendment violation.

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

 

Webinar offers budget expertise, certification credit to county commissioners

MSU Extension and the Michigan Department of Treasury will cover the fundamentals of budgeting during uncertain economic times, tracking long-term fiscal health and operational best practices in “Fiscally Ready Communities: Budgeting for Fiscal Sustainability.”

Commissioners who participate in this session would earn 3 credit hours in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.  As of Sept. 1, nearly 40 commissioners were 3 hours or fewer short of their qualification as “certified” under the CCA program. So, this is an excellent opportunity for members to earn either their certification or build up hours toward it. The first “graduates” of CCA will be honored at MAC’s Legislative Conference in Lansing in April 2021.

MSU Extension encourages all elected and appointed officials in local government, administrators and staff to attend one of the three sessions, which will occur on:

  • Oct. 27, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 19, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

To register, click here.

The webinar will provide best practices for local government fiscal health, including budgeting, long-term planning, dealing with uncertainty, and financial policies and procedures. Participants will learn about key financial variables, such as the “rainy day fund; understanding how the tax base provides revenue; understanding volatile revenue; forecasting revenue and expenditures; and how to track your budget performance, including reviewing and amending your budget.

There is no cost to attend a session, but each session is limited to 50 attendees. (If necessary, additional dates and times will be added.)

For questions on the webinar, contact MSUE’s Eric Walcott at walcott3@msu.edu. For questions on County Commissioner Academy, contact MAC’s Derek Melot at melot@micounties.org.

 

Ballot pre-processing measure headed to governor

Legislation to allow time pre-election to process mail-in ballots cleared the House this week on a 94-11 vote. The measure is supported by the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks and the Council of Election Officials.

Senate Bill 757, by Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Oakland), allows clerks in cities or townships with a population of at least 25,000 to perform certain absent voter (AV) ballot pre-processing activities prior to Election Day, as long as they give notice of that action to the Secretary of State (SOS) at least 20 days before Election Day. This provision would apply only for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.

The bill would also allow election inspectors on AV counting boards in cities or townships to work in shifts. Additionally, it would provide requirements for AV ballot drop boxes and notification requirements for AV ballot applications and ballots that were rejected for missing a signature or having one that did not match the signature on file.

The bill now goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign it.

 

Criminal justice reforms pass House, get Senate hearings

A legislative package spurred by recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration were approved by the House this week, while the Senate began its own deliberations related to task force ideas.

House Bills 5844 and 5854-57 remove mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain offenses. Removal of mandatory minimum sentences would mean a court could impose any term of imprisonment, up to the statutory maximum specified for an offense. For certain driving while intoxicated offenses, it prohibits a judge from waiving the minimum, unless the offender successfully completes a specialty court program, such as a drug treatment or sobriety court.

Additionally, bills removing driver’s licenses sanctions for non-related driving offenses were also passed by the House. HBs 5846-5852 would eliminate various license suspensions unrelated to dangerous driving, such as failure to appear for court or failing to pay child support.

MAC, along with the Michigan Sheriffs Association and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, supported the bills as passed the House.

The Senate, meanwhile, began hearings on bills recommended by the task force that address alternatives to arrest, such as issuance of appearance tickets and allowing resolutions to low-level warrants without being arrested. Review of Senate Bills 1046-51 will continue before the Senate Judiciary Committee in upcoming weeks. 

While a full fiscal analysis is not done projecting county savings, it is assumed that these changes will save counties money by ensuring funds are not spent on housing those in county jails for reasons that are not a threat to public safety. MAC’s policy platforms support the task force, in which MAC members were represented, and smart criminal justice reforms, while maintaining public safety.  

The task force appointments expire, under the current Executive Order, on Sept. 30. MAC expects the governor to extend the group’s make-up through the end of the year.

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

 

Legislative burst brings good news for skilled nursing facilities

Michigan’s 34 county-owned skilled nursing facilities received good news in the fiscal 2021 state budget approved Wednesday, along with other parts of the state’s health field.

In the budget now awaiting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature:

  • The nursing facility rate escaped a $85 million reduction that had been sought by Whitmer.
  • Section 1775 maintains the status quo: (1) Requires the Department to report on the progress in implementing the MI Health Link Waiver on March 1. (2) Requires the existence of an independent ombudsman to help assist with complaint and dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Section 1857 “requires the Department to explore the implementation of a managed care long-term support service by July 1.”
  • A new line was included for $20 million to Nursing Home PPE grants that is funded through federal CARES Act funds. The new section reads, “(1) Appropriates $20.0 million of Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund revenue to nursing homes to help cover the cost of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2) Directs that funds under this section be allocated on a per licensed skilled nursing facility bed basis, with each nursing home receiving a fixed amount per licensed skilled nursing facility bed equal to $20 million divided by the total number of the licensed skilled nursing facility beds in the state. (3) The funds under this section must be allocated by Oct. 31.”
  • CARES Act funding of $150 million is included to continue the $2 per hour direct care worker wage increase, as provided in the previous fiscal year originally approved under SB 690 in July. MCMCFC understands this will continue through the end of December and, according to budget sources, the eligibility remains the same for direct care workers, including those at skilled nursing facilities, that were eligible under SB 690.

In other legislative news related to medical care facilities, House Bills 4098 and 6159 were passed by the full House this week and now await action in the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee.

HB 4098, by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Shiawassee), would allow the training and permitting of medication aides. MCMCFC supports the bill as a way to relieve the strained nursing profession by allowing specially trained CNAs to administering routine medication Under supervision of a nurse.

HB 6159, by Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Isabella), creates the Pandemic Health Care Immunity Act to provide protection from liability to health care facilities, including MCFs, that provided health care services related to the COVID-19 from March 9 to July 15 this year. MCMCFC supports this bill.

For more information on MCMCFC-related legislation, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Flawed broadband measure gets House approval

A bill that creates the “Connecting Michigan Communities Act” to establish a statewide grant program to expand broadband in underserved areas passed the House this week. House Bill 4288, by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Wexford), however, leaves locals out of the running to apply for the grant funds, leaving MAC no option but to oppose this legislation in current form.

While MAC supports the concept of greater access to broadband, this bill excludes local governments or educational institution from accessing these grants, which in some cases, may be the only viable entity to provide services. This could result in leaving some residents unserved in areas where a private provider has no plans to expand but could otherwise be served by a local unit.

Local partners such as the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association were also in opposition as the bill passed the House. The bill now moves to the Senate Energy and Technology committee, chaired by Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-St. Clair), and is expected to receive a vote next week.

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

 

Bill on lake level bonds advances in House

Legislation allowing certain special assessment districts, filed in response to the Sanford Dam failure, cleared another legislative hurdle this week by advancing out of the House Committee on Natural Resources. MAC supports the legislation.

Senate Bill 1080, by Sen. Rick Outman (R-Montcalm) already has Senate approval and would allow a special assessment district, with the approval of the County Board of Commissioners, to issue notes or bonds for up to 40 years to finance lake level projects. While a direct response to the Sanford Dam failure, the bill also provides greater financing options for the multitude of other lake level projects across the state in dire need of repair. 

The bill would extend time a district could issue bonds from 10 years to 40 years, allowing the property assessments that pay for the work to be spread out over a much longer period and thereby make the payments more affordable for property owners. The bill now awaits action in the House Ways and Means Committee.

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

 

Tax shift for heavy equipment clears House committee

A new method to tax heavy construction and earth-moving equipment in Michigan cleared a House committee this week.

House Bill 5779, by Rep. Jim Ellison (D-Oakland) and voted out of House Tax Policy Committee, would end the current system for taxing rented heavy equipment, which is assessed in the jurisdiction where the property is physically located on Dec. 31 each year, regardless of where the property originated from or where it was for the rest of the year. This system has created difficulties for assessors, who have to track down the equipment within their jurisdictions on one day out of the year; creates uncertainty for the business owners who will have to pay multiple jurisdictions each year based on where the equipment is on that one day; and it can create unpredictable revenue issues for tax collecting units year to year.

Ellison’s bill, instead, would establish a 2 percent levy on the rental price of the heavy equipment. The levy would be collected by the Department of Treasury on a quarterly basis. Late penalties, audits of submissions and additional disqualifications penalties would also apply. Of the money collected by Treasury, up to $250,000 per year would go to the department for administering the program; the remaining funds would be distributed to the taxing jurisdictions.

Ninety percent of the funds would be sent to the tax collecting units where the businesses are located, who would then have 35 days to distribute the funds to the other taxing jurisdictions in the same proportion as it distributes property taxes. The remaining 10 percent would go to those local units of government not receiving any of the 90 percent distribution in the same proportion as distributions of the personal property tax reimbursement funds under the Local Community Stabilization Authority.

This bill is tie-bared to one that would exempt this equipment from personal property taxes under the General Property Tax Act. MAC is neutral on the legislation.

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

 

Controversial ‘Dark Stores’ advocate regains Tax Tribunal seat

A former member of the Michigan Tax Tribunal who served when the panel adopted the “Dark Stores” theory of property assessment will rejoin the tribunal after a Senate committee failed to reject her nomination by the Whitmer administration.

Victoria Enyart will be seated after the Senate Advice and Consent Committee turned aside a move by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson) to reject her reappointment. MAC and others had opposed Enyart’s reappointment due to her role in the adoption of the “Dark Stores” assessment ideology, which has stripped local governments statewide of more than $100 million in revenue, thereby increasing the local tax burden on homeowners and small businesses.

The day before, a different Senate committee, Finance, took testimony on legislation, Senate Bill 39, by McBroom, which ban one of the Dark Stores techniques – the use of deed-restricted parcels as comparable properties for assessment purposes. MAC supports the bill, which did not receive a committee vote but is gaining traction in the Legislature.

For more information, contact Deena Bosworth at Bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Webinar to aid law enforcement with autism, DD communities

A webinar designed to provide participants, particularly law enforcement, with the knowledge and skills required to provide effective, equitable service to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, will be held Oct. 27 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The content presented in this course is a culmination of information from a partnership of mental health and law enforcement professionals. The webinar is co-sponsored ty the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA).

County commissioners may wish to encourage colleagues and partners in law enforcement to attend this free training session, which is MCOLES-approved and meets with MCOLES recommended annual officer trainings.

To register, click here. The class is limited to 50 slots. Deadline to register is Oct. 25.

To register groups or for additional course information, contact J. Eric Waddell at jericwaddell@thecardinalgroup2.com.

 

  • CoPro Web Ad 2018
  • Enbridge Banner Ad 2018
  • MMRMA Web Banner 2019
  • NACo Live Healthy Ad 960x200px
  • Nationwide Ad For Mac Site
  • 2022 AC Sponsors - Michigan above
  • 2022 AC Sponsors - Huron
  • 2022 AC Sponsors - all else