MAC unveils 2024 legislative priorities

A commitment to the financial health of Michigan counties undergirds a robust legislative agenda released today by the Michigan Association of Counties for 2024.

Among the priorities for MAC in Lansing this year are revenue sharing, state reimbursement for lost revenue due to the disabled veteran property tax exemption, extending the sunset on our ability to collect fees that fund our trial courts, tackling the issue of Medicaid for jail inmates set to be released and ongoing challenges in financing infrastructure improvements and maintenance.

Revenue Sharing Trust Fund

MAC places a high priority on securing and enhancing the revenue sharing for counties. House Bills 4274-75 carve out a portion of the state sales tax and dedicates it to revenue sharing passed the House last November with overwhelming bipartisan support. Getting this policy through the Senate and to the governor’s desk tops the list of our priorities this year. 

Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption reimbursement

Since 2014, MAC has been seeking reimbursement for the state policy exempting 100 percent disabled veterans from paying property taxes. When the policy was initially passed, the cost estimate for locals was in the ballpark of $18 million. Today, the cost is closer to $100 million for all recipients of property tax revenue. Working with the veterans organizations and policy-makers, we have come up with a mechanism to reimburse local units for their lost revenue. Unfortunately, the state is more than hesitant to take financial responsibility for the exemption. MAC will continue to work with the administration to stress the importance of the reimbursement to counties. 

Increasing resources for juvenile justice services

MAC recognizes the need for additional beds for juveniles across the state and the challenges counties face with a lack of available and qualified workers to staff these facilities. The only way to address these critical shortages is to infuse additional funds into the system. MAC will seek state funds for staff recruitment, retention and training, plus direct funding for facilities. 

Extending the sunset on trial court funding authorization

To maintain the effectiveness of the judicial system, MAC calls for an extension of the sunset on trial court funding authorization. The current authorization for the collection of fees that help to fund our trial courts expires in May. We will seek an extension of this authorization to May of 2026 and in the interim seek the enactment of the recommendations from the Trial Court Funding Commission. 

Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy

While federal legislation to address necessary reforms to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) is under way, and several states have been approved for Medicaid Section 1115 waivers to allow for Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals, Michigan counties still face burdensome costs in anticipation of these reforms.

To alleviate the financial burden imposed by the MIEP, MAC is pursuing a policy to require health care providers to bill at the Medicaid-established rate for all incarcerated individuals who do not possess private health care and receive medical care outside of the county jail.  In addition, MAC is working on an initiative to require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a Medicaid Section 1115 Re-entry Waiver, which several other states have been approved for, to reinstate Medicaid benefits for incarcerated individuals prior to release from county jails. 

Infrastructure funding

Addressing Michigan’s infrastructure needs, MAC prioritizes road funding in its legislative agenda. Proposals include sustainable and long-term solutions to maintain and improve the state’s transportation infrastructure. With declining gas tax revenue due to more efficient vehicles and the influx of electric vehicles and road quality declining, a new approach must be found. MAC envisions safer roads, reduced congestion and enhanced connectivity contributing to economic growth and overall community well-being.

For more information on MAC’s 2024 priorities, please contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Experts: $14 billion to spend from state General Fund in fiscal 2025

Michigan legislators will have about $14 billion in General Fund revenue to use for the fiscal 2025 budget, economic and budget experts said Friday in the first Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) of 2024.

These conferences are required by statute to determine the state of Michigan’s financial resources as lawmakers draft annual budgets, including spending areas that are critical to county needs, such as revenue sharing.

As for impacts on county priorities in 2024, MAC Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth said the projections leave the potential for MAC’s goal to enact a dedicated Revenue Sharing Trust Fund this year in good shape. but the meager growth does hinder the possibility for investment in other MAC priorities.

As for the perennial question of infrastructure funding, Bosworth said the clear need there is for the state to develop a new method to fund road maintenance and improvements in the face of pressures on traditional fuel taxes.

The Legislature will begin its budget work in earnest in February when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer presents her Executive Budget recommendations. The next revenue conference, in May 2024, will set the final numbers available for spending for the FY25 state budget, which is supposed to be finished, by statute, by June 30.

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

 

‘Ax Tax’ proposal headed back to the Board of State Canvassers next week

Earlier this week, MAC, in a special Podcast 83 episode to launch its 2024 season, reviewed a radical ballot proposal that, if adopted, would blow a nearly $3 billion hole in county revenues.

The podcast guest, Steve Liedel of the firm of Dykema in Lansing, is an expert in elections law, discussed the process that the group “Ax MI Tax” is using to try to ban property taxes in Michigan.

Since the taping and release of this episode, the Ax MI Tax group has altered their course and is again going before the Board of State Canvassers to have their ballot proposal summary language approved before they start the signature collecting process.  The meeting to approve the language is set for Jan. 19.

MAC is part of a group of interested parties engaging and closely monitoring this proposal and will keep our membership updated as we learn more.

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

 

Ballot group formed to challenge energy siting law

A ballot committee announced its plan last week to bring a voter initiative on a new law to revamp legislation that grants the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) the ability to override local governments in the permitting of renewable energy facilities.

Citizens for Local Choice is behind the proposal and aims to gather 550,000 signatures before May to get the initiative on the ballot for the November 2024 election. The group hopes to raise $7 million to $10 million to fund their work. (Under Michigan’s “indirect” initiative process, the measure would first go to the Legislature, which could choose to adopt it. If the Legislature rejected the initiative, the question would then move to the voters.)

The intent of the initiative is to nullify part of Public Act 233 of 2023, which allows solar and wind developers to apply for a permit directly to the MPSC if the local unit has not adopted a Compatible Renewable Energy Ordinance. If the local unit has such an ordinance, the developer may eventually appeal adverse decisions to the MPSC. Ultimately, the ballot initiative is an attempt to retain full local zoning authority.

According to Ballotpedia, the 2024 signature requirement for an initiated law is 356,958.

MAC was opposed to the act’s provisions that stripped decision-making from local governments, but that is not an indication of our position on clean energy goals. MAC is not a member of Citizens for Local Choice and has not been involved in the group’s work.

 

MAC-backed coalition will recognize promising practices on opioids

The Opioid Advisory Commission (OAC) is partnering with the Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association, to spotlight local governments that are demonstrating promising practices, in alignment with national guidance.

Individuals can nominate their local government for recognition by the OAC, within quarterly and annual reports of the Commission —completion of this form allows for nomination of a jurisdiction.

Click here to nominate your local government.

Through nomination, the work of local governments may also be shared with the National Association of Counties (NACo.) Opioid Solutions Center for recognition on their website or within publications, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as nomination for Awards for Excellence in the Application of the Opioid Litigation Principles. 

Data collected from this survey will be housed with the OAC and shared with the Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Townships Association, and Michigan Municipal League.

For more information, contact oac@legislature.mi.gov.

 

Learn about $6 million ‘Catalyst Communities’ grant opportunity on Jan. 26

The Catalyst Communities Initiative is a comprehensive program to provide education, training, planning, and technical resources to local governments as they work toward their sustainability goals. This initiative offers an array of resources on various environmental, social, and economic topics to help communities across Michigan make a just transition to decarbonization and meet our MI Healthy Climate Plan goals. The initiative aims to provide a range of resource options to meet communities wherever they are, regardless of geography, population size, or pre-existing knowledge.  The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Catalyst Communities Initiative is hosting this webinar series free to communities.

Next event: Jan. 26, 11 a.m. to noon (Eastern) – Community Energy Management Program RFP and Application Overview

The Community Energy Management Program has been amended to expand the total amount of funding available, eligible projects areas, and the maximum award size. These changes were made possible by additional federal funding from the State Energy Program’s (SEP) Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocation and the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) allocation. This webinar will highlight the additional funding and increased award sizes that are available, along with the expanded eligible project areas that communities can consider when applying.

Noteworthy details:

  • Program solicitation closes June 30, 2024, or when all funding is expended, whichever comes first.
  • Total funding available is $5,850,000.
  • Project awards have been expanded to a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $100,000. 
  • For the SEP portion of the funds, any local government, tribal government, or other public service entity physically located in Michigan is eligible to apply.
  • For the EECBG portion of the funds, any local government or tribal government physically located in Michigan that did not receive direct EECBG funding allocations is eligible to apply.
  • The grant period will end, and funds must be expended by Aug. 31, 2025.

Webinar recordings are posted online for future viewing on the Catalyst Communities Webinars Webpage and anyone registering to join will get a notification when the recording is available.

 

MAC’s YouTube page has dozens of new videos

The Michigan Association of Counties holds numerous educational events each year to help members stay abreast of policy and financial developments. And, for those members who are unable to attend, either in person or via digital links, MAC routinely records presentations and makes them available through our channel on YouTube.

Be sure to bookmark our YouTube page to see all of MAC’s video work.

Recent additions to the channel include:

Be sure to bookmark the page on your browser, as we will add videos throughout the year.

 

MAC offices closed for MLK holiday

MAC’s offices in Lansing will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15 to observe the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

Normal office hours will resume at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

For information on MAC committee meetings, click here. For information on MAC events, click here.

 

Nominations open for Hometown Health Hero awards

The Michigan Public Health Week Partnership, a collaboration of 12 organizations, including MAC, working to increase the visibility of significant accomplishments in public health, is seeking nominations of individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to preserve and improve their community’s health for its annual Hometown Health Hero awards. Hometown Health Hero awards are presented every spring as part of Michigan Public Health Week, April 8-14. Award recipients will be honored at a reception April 10 in the atrium of Heritage Hall in the State Capitol.

Michigan Public Health Week is observed as part of National Public Health Week the first week of April to recognize the contributions of public health and to highlight issues that are important to improving the nation’s health. Each year, the American Public Health Association develops a campaign to educate the public, policy makers and health care providers about issues related to that year’s theme.

Nomination forms can be downloaded from Michigan.gov/mphw. Completed nominations should be sent to Jim Koval via email at kovalj@michigan.gov or faxed to 517-335-8392 by Wednesday, Jan. 31.

 

Juvenile justice package adopted as MAC scores win in 2023 priority

Nineteen pieces of a 20-bill package to make sweeping reforms to the juvenile justice system, long backed by MAC, was signed into law by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist this week.

House Bills 4624-43 and Senate Bills 418-423424425426427428-429430-431 and 432-437 are a result of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform’s recommendations provided in July 2022.

One bill, HB 4630, did not advance out of the Legislature.

The Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform was established in 2021 and tasked with assessing Michigan’s juvenile justice data and identifying ways to improve the system. Two county commissioners served on the Task Force, each nominated by MAC. Alisha Bell of Wayne represented a county with a population over 100,000, and Marlene Webster of Shiawassee represented a county of under 100,000 in population. Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Jackson and a former county commissioner, also served on the panel.

The task force discovered several challenges to strengthening public safety and improving outcomes for youth. This led to the set of 32 recommendations provided to the Legislature last year. The recommendations would improve community safety, reduce disparities and improve youth outcomes.

SB 418, by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Wayne), enhances the County Child Care Fund (CCF) by establishing a minimum framework of juvenile justice best practices statewide, including the use of risk screening and assessment tools. The best practices will be supported by an increase in the reimbursement rate for community-based services from 50 percent to 75 percent, including 17-year-olds. These changes are essential to ensuring counties have the resources to implement and utilize these approaches. The reimbursement rate for residential services will be 50 percent, including the 17-year-old population.

SBs 419423 and HBs 4625-29  require the consistent use of validated screening and assessment tools to enable more objective decision-making and allow agencies to better match youth to appropriate supervision and services, reducing their likelihood to recidivate. The bills also expand the Diversion Act so that all offenses, with an exception for youth committing a specified juvenile violation, are eligible for pre-court diversion, based on the use of a risk-screening tool and other factors, and limit the time that a youth can be placed on pre-court diversion, unless the court determines that a longer period is needed. While diversion eligibility would be expanded, judicial discretion remains.

HB 4630, by Rep. Lightner, would have expanded the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to include development, oversight and compliance with youth defense standards in local county defense systems. It never received a vote in the Senate. It remains to be seen if the Legislature will revisit this bill in 2024.

Enacted bills will take effect Oct. 1, 2024.

MAC supported this package as a 2023 priority.

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

 

Growing Michigan Council sets goals – but specifics lacking as to funding

Michigan’s population has hovered around the 10 million mark for decades while other states have seen significant increases. (Source: Macrotrends.net)

The Growing Michigan Together Council, a special task force formed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that was notably lacking in local government representation, released a report this week for new state investments in human capital.

In its report, the council describes the hard truth facing Michigan, which is now ranked 49th out of 50 states in population growth, has seen its median income, fall, its population age and its infrastructure investments lag.

The report is light on blame for this decline but instead makes it a collective problem that we will have to face and change together:

To counter these trends, the panel sets out three main components and subsequent recommendations, include establishing Michigan as an innovation hub, the creation of lifelong learning focused on future readiness skills and competencies and on creating thriving, resilient communities that are magnets for young talent.

Following the actionable items in the report are recommendations on ensuring momentum and taking a hard look at state policies and their funding models and an honest look at the return on investment for the state’s 10 million residents. 

MAC’s Podcast 83 team will have its reactions to the council report in an episode scheduled for release on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

For more information or to provide thoughts and feedback on the report, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Presentations from 2023 Policy Summit

 

State launches online tool for FOIA requests

A new online tool for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) searches was unveiled this week by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

The new service will allow documents to be made publicly available online as part of a FOIA request. Rather than fulfilling multiple requests, the document will be accessible online to any interested party for one year.

Changes to the way the Department of State responds to FOIA requests come after an influx of requests for election materials in recent years. This system will make the process easier for both the requestor and the team fulfilling requests behind the scenes. Online payment will be accepted for the first time, adding another level of convenience.

It is possible other agencies will follow suit should this program prove successful.

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

 

Medication aide legislation signed into law

A package to create medication aide registration and permits, supported by the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC), has been signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

House Bills 4885 and 4923, by Reps. Donovan McKinney (D-Wayne) and Joseph Aragona (R-Macomb), respectively, allows for the training and registration of medication aides in a manner similar to registration and training for nurse aides, commonly referred to as certified nurse aides, or CNAs.

The changes will address staffing shortages within county medical care facilities; likely increase retention and recruitment for nurses, nurse aides and medication aides; and reduce overall errors by freeing up nurses within facilities.

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

 

Podcast 83 reviews MAC opioid settlement services

A special episode of Podcast 83 features MAC’s opioid settlement services to member counties.

Host Stephan Currie interviews Amy Dolinky, MAC’s technical adviser for settlement services, about her work with dozens of Michigan counties and what questions and issues have arisen in her statewide travels.

“I’m engaged with 60 counties providing various levels of support,” explained Dolinky, who joined MAC about a year ago to work specifically with members on the complicated task of best deploying national opioid settlement dollars in their communities.

Dolinky explained she has been involved in everything from helping counties plan for creation of an advisory panel, all the way to helping folks think through what transparency looks like with their spending decisions.

“And (MAC has been) working with some counties on strategic planning efforts,” she noted.

During the discussion, Currie and Dolinky reviewed the payment timeline, with Dolinky noting that while each company has a set number of payments, they are not being issued on a standard fiscal year or annual basis — and amounts can differ from year to year.

County members with any questions about opioid settlements are encouraged to review MAC’s extensive resources on the web and/or contact Dolinky directly at dolinky@micounties.org.

View the full video of the episode, recorded in November 2023, by clicking here.

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

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

 

MACPAC nearly reaches $13,000 mark in 2023

Continuing its rebound from pandemic-year lows, the MAC Political Action Committee raised nearly $13,000 for a 12-month period ending on Dec. 4, 2023.

MACPAC, the only PAC in Michigan committed to supporting sitting legislators who have proven themselves to be allies of effective and efficient county government, received $12,664.15 for the year. It was backed by 80 individual donors, with donations coming from 45 of the 83 counties.

In his first months in office, Board President Jim Storey of Allegan County has spoken often about the important role MACPAC plays in MAC’s overall advocacy efforts, including at last week’s 2023 Policy Summit: “(W)hen you combine our PAC with our individual voice in our home communities, we are very strong, we are very effective.”

To learn more about MACPAC’s work or make a click online donation, click here.

 

Treasury seeks public comment on accounting documents

The Michigan Department of Treasury provides direction to local governments on accounting and auditing in the form of Numbered Letters and Michigan Committee on Governmental Accounting and Auditing (MCGAA) Statements. To ensure this information is up to date and useful for its trusted partners, Treasury has begun the process of removing and updating the Numbered Letters and MCGAA statements from 1993 to the present.

Its ongoing goal will be to update Numbered Letters and MCGAA Statements every five years to make sure they are maintained adequately, with a focus on updating 20 percent a year. Most of the updates made will be to bring all these publications to our most current format and ensure all weblinks within those resources are accurate. Many will need to be revised more substantially or even removed from being active.

In addition to the content updates, Treasury is changing the MCGAA Statements to Numbered Letters. For this release, there will be four MCGAA Statements that will be changed to Numbered Letters. The revisions include updating to our current format and ensuring all weblinks are accurate.

The Local Audit and Finance Division is currently soliciting public comment on selected Numbered Letters and MCGAA Statements (which have been changed to Numbered Letters). Any individual or organization that would like to submit comments should provide those comments in writing by Jan. 12, 2024.

You can find the selected Numbered Letters Exposure Drafts and Numbered Letters for Public Comment below:

Comments may be submitted by email to LAFD_Audits@michigan.gov with the subject line entitled, “Numbered Letters Exposure Draft.”

Alternatively, responses may also be submitted via U.S Postal Service to:

Michigan Department of Treasury
Local Audit and Finance Division
PO Box 30728
Lansing, MI 48909-8228

If you have any questions, contact Treasury at 517-335-7469.

 

Year in Review continues with focus on public safety funding, Open Meetings Act changes

Potential new funds for public safety and long-needed repairs to the state Open Meetings Act are two of several issues discussed in Part II of Podcast 83’s “Legislative Year in Review.”

Host Stephan Currie again welcomed the MAC advocacy team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson to review key county issues in 2023 and how some of them may change in 2024, including:

Open Meetings Act: “This has been a slow process this year,” said Fata. “Over 10,000 groups adhere to OMA. … The needs are all over the place. The goal for MAC is to be able to fully participate, including voting, remotely, as long as a physical quorum is present. At least two bills introduced … that are great for smaller organizations but for county commissioners still not where we want it to be.

“We just want that ability to participate remotely as long as physical quorum is present. … We don’t have any legislation that is meeting our needs,” she added.

Public Safety Trust Fund: “(The fund) is two-bill package, modeled after our Revenue Sharing Trust Fund bills,” said Bosworth. “They carve out percentage of state sales tax and allocate to pub safety trust fund. … Part of revenue (goes) to local units of government based on their portion of violent crime throughout the state. We have worked really hard to figure out how we could get counties recognized in that legislation.

“At this point, it has passed out of house and is awaiting action in Senate,” she added.

Designated assessor: Bosworth said MAC and counties are “in a good spot” regarding legislation to have the State Tax Commission hire designated assessors, freeing local governments from a long-standing struggle to find qualified individuals. The legislation will continue its path through the process in 2024, she added.

View the full video of the episode, recorded on Dec. 4, by clicking here.

Previous episodes, including Part I of the Year in Review, can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

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

 

Nearly 100 county leaders participate in Policy Summit

MAC President Jim Storey welcomes the in-person and virtual audiences for the 2023 Policy Summit on Dec. 7, as Executive Director Stephan Currie looks on.

Counties have an excellent opportunity to drive policy change in Lansing in coming months, if their leaders work with MAC at every opportunity, Board President Jim Storey of Allegan County told the nearly 100 attendees of the MAC Policy Summit on Dec. 7.

Storey’s remarks opened the one-day event at the Kellogg Center, which included presentations on:

The expected effects of the recently approved juvenile justice reform package, most notably the shift to a 75 percent reimbursement rate for community-based services for counties.

The politics and implications over the upcoming debate for a statewide septic code: Presenters explained there is a consensus among stakeholders — including local health departments and septic industry experts — that reform is needed. They added, though, that the final product will not look like the legislation that was introduced in Lansing this year.

National efforts to change federal law so that counties are not left with the health bills of jail inmates who have not yet been charged with a crime. Blaire Bryant of the National Association of Counties noted that county efforts were gaining traction on Capitol Hill to reform the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy.

The continuing work of a MAC-commissioned study on the services that each county provides to the local governments within its borders.

“We are thrilled by the turnout for the event — and by the extended Q&A segments in the sessions,” said Executive Director Stephan Currie. “I think the results speak to the quality of the presentations and to the eagerness of our members to stay current on policy questions so they can protect their constituents’ interests.”

Look for resources from the summit to post to MAC’s website by the middle of December.

 

NACo offers update on State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds’ Obligation Interim Final Rule

The U.S. Department of Treasury released a new interim final rule to address questions regarding the definition of “obligation” and to provide guidance and clarification for Obligation Interim Final Rule (IFR).

Treasury defined “obligation” as “an order placed for property and services and entering into contracts, subawards, and similar transactions that require payment.”

State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, funds for Title I and Surface Transportation projects must be expended, by Sept. 30, 2024, and funds for most eligible uses must be expended by Dec. 31, 2026. SLFRF funds may only be used to cover costs incurred by Dec. 31, 2024. A recipient may use SLFRF funds to cover the costs of meeting the following: Reporting and compliance requirements, single audit costs, record retention and internal control requirements, property standards, environmental compliance requirements, and civil rights and nondiscrimination requirements.

Under the Obligation IFR, the definition of obligation is unchanged, but a recipient is also considered to have incurred an obligation by Dec. 31, 2024, when recipients incur costs related to the legal and administrative requirements of the SLFRF award funds. Recipient appropriation, budget, or allocation processes would not provide a standard that could be applied consistently across recipients related to the definition of obligation. Recipients can continue to charge indirect cost rates to SLFRF throughout the period of performance.

See relevant “case studies” from Treasury.

“The IFR was submitted for publication on Nov. 9, 2023, and will become effective when published. That will also begin the 30-day comment period. You may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should be captioned “Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Obligation Interim Final Rule Comment.” Please also include your:

  • Name
  • Organization affiliation
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number

Comments received will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov, without change, including any business or personal information provided. Comments received, including attachments and other supporting materials, will be part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Do not enclose any information in your comment or supporting materials that you consider confidential or inappropriate for public disclosure.

 

Podcast 83 begins look back at 2023 legislative year

Legislative successes on juvenile justice reform, property tax reimbursements and revenue sharing highlight the first of two episodes of Podcast 83 that are looking back at 2023 in the State Capitol.

Host Stephan Currie and the MAC governmental affairs team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson reviewed the county perspective on the following:

Passage of a huge juvenile justice reform package, which notably did not include an extension of juvenile services under the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. “MIDC will remain exactly as is,” Gibson said.

Release of Personal Property Tax (PPT) funds for local governments, which are losing revenue due to expanded tax exemptions for small businesses approved by the state two years ago. “There’s been $75 million set aside, and they are required to set aside $75 million each year to go out to local units to reimburse them,” Bosworth explained. “We are pretty happy about that.”

A new, dedicated Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, which was approved overwhelmingly by the House and now awaits action in the Senate in 2024. “It’s a true sharing of the state’s revenue,” Bosworth said of the long-standing MAC priority. “It’s a straight carve-out of the sales tax … and allows for growth.”

View the full video of the episode, recorded on Nov. 28, by clicking here.

The Legislative Year in Review will continue with Part II, set to be released on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

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

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

 

Check out new estimates on opioid settlement payments

An Opioid Settlement Payment Estimator was released this week by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office.

The worksheet outlines the estimated totals for opioid settlements in counties, other local governments and the state. Outside of estimated total amounts by settlement, local governments can see estimates for payments expected from each settlement in each calendar year.

The updated dollar amounts provided in the worksheet also have been updated on MAC’s Opioid Settlement Resource Center dashboard and a link to the payment estimator is provided.

For information on MAC’s opioid settlement resources, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

State offers Dec.15 webinar about new juvenile justice laws

The Michigan State Court Administrative Office and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services invite county officials to join an informational webinar to learn more about the recently passed Justice for Kids and Communities bill package. The bill package is the result of the work of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform and will bring significant changes to the juvenile justice system that will improve outcomes for youth and families and strengthen public safety across the state.

MAC supported this package during the 2023 legislative sessions.

The webinar will provide a detailed overview of the legislation. We will also be collecting your outstanding questions about the provisions for review and discussion at a future training opportunity. Please find logistical information to join the webinar below:

For more information on MAC’s advocacy work on juvenile justice issues, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAC president ‘visits’ Capitol Hill:

A friend of MAC recently visited the Capitol Hill offices of Congressman John James of Michigan and noticed President Jim Storey also “there” via the cover of the October 2023 edition of Michigan Counties. MAC distributes more than 1,500 printed copies of the magazine every two months to county, state and federal officials.

 

Three Midland County employees finish NACo leadership program

MAC congratulates the August 2023 NACo Leadership Academy graduates from Michigan. They join more than 10,000 graduates and current participants from across the country benefitting from the 12-week online program enabling existing and emerging county leaders to achieve their highest potential:

  • Chris Gaumer, equalization director, Midland County
  • Jessica Gilkins, board administrative assistant, Midland County
  • Marisa Boulton, community corrections coordinator, Midland County

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the High Performance Leadership Academy with a special training deal: each county can enroll 10 leaders for $15,000 in 2024. Our next cohort starts Jan. 8.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND ENROLL

Developed by General Colin Powell, the Professional Development Academy and NACo, the High Performance Leadership Academy is an online 12-week program that helps your workforce develop fundamental, practical leadership skills to deliver results for counties and residents.

 

Legislature adjourns for the year

As predicted, the Michigan legislature has completed its work for 2023 and is expected to adjourn sine die next week Tuesday.  This early adjournment for the year is in part due to the need to have certain previously passed pieces of legislation enacted early, the most pressing of which is the movement of the presidential primary election date. Public Act 2 of 2023 by Sen. Moss (D-Oakland) changes the election date to the fourth week of February. The bill was approved earlier this year but was not granted immediate effect. If a bill does not receive immediate effect, it is not implemented until 90 days after adjournment.  Traditionally, the legislative term ends mid-December.

Moving the presidential primary date was a priority for Governor Whitmer and makes Michigan the fifth state in the nation to hold the election. The Legislature had several late nights over the past few weeks to tie up loose ends before heading back to their districts for the year.

 

Solar siting reform legislation will soon be signed into law

House Bill 5120 by Rep. Aiyash (D-Wayne) passed the Senate on Wednesday along party lines and received a concurrence vote in the House later that day. The bill will take effect 1 year after the governor signs it. The following provisions are included in the final version:

  • The bill applies to all solar facilities greater than 50 megawatts, and wind facilities greater than 100 megawatts.
  • If a local unit wants the responsibility of approving or denying applications, it must adopt a “compatible renewable energy ordinance” (CREO). Locals will have 1 year from effective date to create and adopt a CREO. A CREO cannot be any more restrictive than what is prescribed in the bill.
  • If a local unit does adopt a CREO, a developer must apply to them first and the local unit has 120 days to approve or deny the application. The deadline can be extended up to an additional 120 days if the local unit and applicant agree.
  • If the local fails to act in 120 days or if the application is denied but meets the requirements of the bill, the Public Service Commission (PSC) then reviews the application.
  • If the PSC approves an application, the local CREO can be voided if the PSC feels the local’s initial denial was unreasonable.
  • If the PSC approves the application, the applicant will give the local unit $75,000 to be used as an intervention fund.
  • The applicant will give the local $2,000 per megawatt for public safety or infrastructure improvements, but the applicant must agree to the terms of use.

MAC’s Madeline Fata testified in opposition to the bill on Tuesday in the Senate Energy Committee. Some of Fata’s concerns were resolved in the latest draft but the substance of the bill remained largely unchanged between chambers. While the latest version may appear to preserve local control to a degree, locals will be limited in what they can and cannot consider when deciding on an application.

The governor is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks, especially since the clean energy package was also approved this week. Senate Bill 271 by Sen. Geiss (D-Wayne) passed along party lines in both chambers to set a renewable energy standard of 50% by 2030, and 100% clean energy by 2040. The siting reform legislation was introduced to supplement the clean energy package, with the goal of making it easier for solar and wind facilities to be built across the state.

 

Juvenile justice reform bills headed to governor

A majority of the 20-bill package to make sweeping reforms to the juvenile justice system, and which is backed by MAC, gained approval in the Michigan House and Senate this week. All but one of the bills, House Bill 4630, were passed and sent to the Governor.

House Bills 4624-43 and Senate Bills 418-423, 424425426427428-429430-431 and 432-437 are a result of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform’s recommendations provided last July. House Bills 4625, 4626, 4628-4629, 4633, 4636-4637, 4639-4640 and 4643, alongside Senate Bills 418, 421, 425, 426, 428, 429, 431, 432, 435 and 436 are headed to the Governor’s desk.

The Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform was established in 2021 and tasked with assessing Michigan’s juvenile justice data and identifying ways to improve the system. Two county commissioners served on the Task Force, each nominated by MAC. Alisha Bell of Wayne represented a county commissioner from a county with a population over 100,000, and Marlene Webster of Shiawassee represented a county commissioner from a county under 100,000 in population. Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Jackson and a former county commissioner, also served on the panel.

The task force discovered several challenges to strengthening public safety and improving outcomes for youth. This led to the set of 32 recommendations provided to the Legislature last year. The recommendations would improve community safety, reduce disparities and improve youth outcomes.

SB 418, by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Wayne), enhances the County Child Care Fund (CCF) by establishing a minimum framework of juvenile justice best practices statewide, including the use of risk screening and assessment tools. The best practices will be supported by an increase in the reimbursement rate for community-based services from 50 percent to 75 percent, including 17-year-olds. These changes are essential to ensuring counties have the resources to implement and utilize these approaches. The reimbursement rate for residential services will be 50 percent, including the 17-year-old population.

SBs 419423 and HBs 4625-29  require the consistent use of validated screening and assessment tools to enable more objective decision-making and allow agencies to better match youth to appropriate supervision and services, reducing their likelihood to recidivate. The bills also expand the Diversion Act so that all offenses, with an exception for youth committing a specified juvenile violation, are eligible for pre-court diversion, based on the use of a risk-screening tool and other factors, and limit the time that a youth can be placed on pre-court diversion, unless the court determines that a longer period is needed. While diversion eligibility would be expanded, judicial discretion remains.

SB 424 and HB 4630, by Sen. Sue Shink (D-Washtenaw) and Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), respectively, would expand the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to include development, oversight, and compliance with youth defense standards in local county defense systems. MAC has worked to ensure there would be no increase in the local share for MIDC services, that 40 percent of the total grant amount would be received upfront and that partially indigent reimbursements will remain. House Bill 4630 never received a vote in the Senate. It remains to be seen if the legislature will revisit this bill in 2024.

If enacted, this legislation would take effect Oct. 1, 2024.

MAC supports this package.

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

 

State House split evenly between Democrats and Republicans

Two Representatives exited the Michigan House this week, leaving a 54-54 split between Democrats and Republicans. On Tuesday, Reps. Coleman (D-Oakland) and Stone (D-Oakland) won mayoral races in their respective hometowns of Westland and Warren. Both will be seated next week, and the House will have a split majority for the first time in nearly 30 years.

While Rep. Tate (D-Wayne) remains speaker of the House and Democrats will retain control over the chamber, the House will struggle to pass partisan policies until those seats are filled via special election. It is expected that a special election will be held in mid-May. Both parties will need to work together and heavily negotiate to move any legislation in the spring.

 

Counties can create Opioid Fatality Review Teams under House-approved legislation

This week, the House approved Senate Bill 133, by Sen. McCann (D-Kalamazoo). SB 133 would allow a county or group of counties to establish an Opioid Fatality Review Team, by creating the Overdose Fatality Review Act.

If a county chooses, an opioid fatality review team would consist of county officials, individuals from law enforcement, and those from public health agencies. The main goal of a team would be to identify potential causes of drug overdose in their community and recommend law or policy changes for the prevention of those causes and overdoses.

Senate Bill 133 now heads to the governor.

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

 

Medication aide legislation passed by Senate

A package to create medication aide registration and permits, supported by the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC), was approved by the Senate this week.

House Bills 4885 and 4923, by Reps. McKinney (D-Wayne) and Aragona (R-Macomb), respectively, would allow for the training and registration of medication aides, similar to conditions for registration and training for nurse aides, commonly referred to as certified nurse aides, or CNAs.

These bills will address staffing shortages within county medical care facilities, likely increase retention and recruitment for nurses, nurse aides, and medication aides, as well as reduce overall errors by freeing up nurses within facilities. HBs 4885 and 4923 now wait for the governor’s signature.

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

 

Senate approves additional judgeships in Kent and Macomb counties

New judgeships will soon exist in Kent and Macomb counties after the Senate passed House Bills 4823 and 4920, by Rep. Wozniak (R-Macomb) and Rep. Fitzgerald (D-Kent), respectively. HB 4823 would add a probate court judge in Macomb County, while HB 4920 would add a district judge in Kent County.

The Macomb Probate Court now has two probate judges, so HB 4823 would add a third slot. HB 4920 would add a judge to the 63rd District Court in Kent County. However, the Kent seat would still need approval from the Kent County Board of Commissioners, even after any legislation is signed into state law. After approval from the Board of Commissioners, an election would have to be held in 2024 to elect a new judge.

The bills now head to the governor’s desk and await her signature.

MAC supports this legislation.

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

 

Opioid Advisory Commission announces survey and listening sessions

The Opioid Advisory Commission (OAC) is excited to announce the release of the Michigan Opioid Settlement Funds: Community Impact Survey and Community Voices Listening Sessions.

The survey takes roughly ten (10) minutes to complete and covers questions related to lived experience, access to care, and recommendations for the use of state opioid settlement funds. It is entirely voluntary, anonymous, and open to all members of the public. If you’re interested in viewing the survey before taking it, please click here—a public copy of the survey can be found under “What to Expect: View the Survey” on the OAC’s website. Information from the survey may be discussed in public meetings, referenced in reports written by the OAC, and used to help the OAC develop recommendations to the state legislature for funding and policy.

Listen sessions will take place weekly and new monthly flyers will be posted on the Opioid Advisory Commission’s website.

Please contact oac@legislature.mi.gov for more information.

 

Operation Green Light will honor nation’s veterans

America’s counties have a long and proud history of serving our nation’s veterans, a legacy that continues to this day as we work with our federal, state and local partners to ensure that the former service members have access to the resources they need to thrive.

Once again this Veterans Day (Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023), the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO) invite the nation’s 3,069 counties, parishes, and boroughs to join Operation Green Light and show support for veterans by lighting our buildings green from Nov. 6-12. By shining a green light, county governments and our residents will let veterans know that they are seen, appreciated and supported. The picture is of Wexford County Courthouse lit up for operation Green Light.

To show support, counties are encouraged to use this template to pass a resolution declaring your county’s participation in Operation Green Light. If you pass a resolution or light your building green, please send a copy of the resolution and any pictures to despins@micounties.org

For a variety of materials to publicize and support your Green Light efforts, visit NACo’s resource hub.

 

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