Governor signs $4.7 billion spending bill on water, more

A state spending bill will help repair dams that failed in 2020, leading to flooding in Midland (shown here) and elsewhere.

Nearly $5 billion is about to be injected into Michigan’s infrastructure after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week signed a supplemental spending bill aimed at water systems, broadband and other infrastructure.

MAC’s governmental affairs director, Deena Bosworth, said in March that the much of the spending falls in line with priorities laid out by the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan, which MAC helped form last fall to create a united plan for leveraging the state’s ARP funding in the most strategic way possible.

The coalition projects about $2.5 billion of the $4.7 billion in Senate Bill 565 aligns with its Michigan Prosperity Roadmap that recommended investments in five key areas: Infrastructure, Fiscal Health, Thriving Communities, Strong Economy, and Public Safety.

Of particular note in SB 565 is the massive investment in protecting Michigan’s waters, including $1.27 billion from federal ARP funds for grants for wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects.

The bill includes $200 million for Midland and Gladwin counties for repairs of dams that failed in 2020, forcing significant evacuations. Use of those funds requires a 20 percent local match. Another $6.8 million will be used in Clare County for lake dredging and a dam emergency spillway.

The bill also sends $250 million in federal funds into a broadband service grant program.

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

 

National County Government Month is under way

National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged counties to actively promote the services and programs they offer. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. NCGM is an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective county programs and raise public awareness and understanding about the various services provided to the community.

The coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of county government. Counties are on the front lines protecting our communities from coronavirus and other illnesses that have the potential to become a pandemic. Counties support more than 900 hospitals and operate over 1,900 public health departments, which are the ground troops in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. Local health departments are working to protect public health by communicating with transportation officials, educating health care providers and communicating to the public best practices to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

MAC members are encouraged to make use of NCGM resources:

 

Conference attendees, respond to survey by Monday, April 4

MAC members who attended the recent 2022 Legislative Conference are asked to complete their survey responses by Monday, April 4.

As of Friday morning, only a third of eligible respondents had use their survey link to answer questions on conference educational content, scheduling and speakers.

“These surveys are the top way for members to give us their views on what we are doing well and where we can improve,” said MAC Communications Director Derek Melot. “Planning is already under way for 2022 Annual in Port Huron, so now is the time for members to help us design that event.”

One of the most consistently popular aspects of MAC conferences has been Exhibitor Bingo, in which attendees visit booths at the Exhibitor Show to fill out their card for a drawing. In March, the two grand prize winners were Kristine Bosley, human resources director at Benzie County, and Rob Pallarito, vice chair of the Otsego County Board of Commissioners. Each claimed a $250 cash prize from Executive Director Stephan Currie after their names were drawn by Second Vice President Eileen Kowall of Oakland County on the last day of the conference.

The 2022 Annual Conference will be Sept. 18-21 in Port Huron. Expect registration to open for it in July.

 

MDHHS opioid webinar set for April 5

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), in partnership with MAC, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office (AG) and others, will launch a webinar series on the Distributor/Janssen Opioid Settlements on Tuesday, April 5 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Click this link to join the session: Recovery Webinar.

State, county and local governments are slated to receive funds from the Distributor/Janssen Opioid Settlements in the coming months, and this webinar series will provide an opportunity for local elected officials, public health officials and other relevant parties to learn about best practices for spending these funds. This upcoming webinar will focus on opportunities to support recovery services.

There will be a Q&A period during the webinar, or participants may email questions directly to MDHHS-OpioidsTaskForce@michigan.gov prior to April 5, 2022.

 

Get On Board! with better meetings for your county

Helping county commissioners operate more effectively in public meetings is the focus of a three-session webinar series sponsored by MSU Extension in May.

“Effective Board Meetings and Good Governance” will have three 90-minute sessions in the evenings beginning May 9. Commissioners who participate will earn 3 credit hours in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy continuing education program.

The cost of the program is $50 per person or $200 per board (group rate, up to 10 people).

Click here to register. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on May 7.

Monday, May 9, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern Time): Role and Purpose

Elected and appointed government boards have distinct rules, norms and a public purpose. In this session, we will learn key differences between elected and appointed boards and their unique spheres of influence. Staff and the public also have significant roles in developing and carrying out policy. Participants will explore common best practices between boards and within boards that support functional governance.

Monday, May 16, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (ET): The Meeting Process

The board chair, members, staff and public are all important meeting participants. In this session, we will review the fundamental practices for leading meetings effectively. Each person must understand their role during a meeting and having clarity around the meeting process. We will discuss formal process documents like bylaws, codes of conduct, and agendas, as well as skills for efficiency and inclusion.

Monday, May 23, 6:30 p. m. to 8 pm (ET): Parliamentary Procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order

An introduction to Parliamentary Procedure based on Robert’s Rules of Order, the most widely used parliamentary authority. This session will focus on parliamentary principles, motions, and debate and decorum during meetings. Participants will explore scenarios and practice skills.

All sessions will be recorded and sent to registrants. Additional resources and session recordings will be available on a Google site shared through the registration process.

For content questions, contact Mary Reilly at 231-889-4277, ext. 1 or reillym8@msu.edu. 

 

NACo urges use of funding opportunities on mental health

In its blog on March 21, the National Association of Counties (NACo) urged county leaders to fully utilize federal aid for mental health services:

“On March 9, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Office of Minority Health (OMH) announced new funding opportunities for states and counties to improve and expand access to community mental health services for children and young adults. As a part of the administration’s new strategy to address the nation’s mental health crisis, this new funding seeks to improve mental health programs and services through early intervention and suicide prevention in schools, universities, foster care systems and other youth-centered settings.

“Counties are directly eligible for 4 of the 7 new grant programs under this funding announcement, including:

“Together, these grants provide approximately $27 million in new funding opportunities for counties to improve access to mental health services for youth and young adults. …

“For a list of the new funding opportunities, click here. Grant application deadlines vary by program and span from April 18, 2022, to May 31, 2022.”

For more information on MAC’s mental health advocacy, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Deadline extended to April 15 for Achievement Awards

The National Association of Counties has announced a deadline extension for its Achievement Awards application process. The new application deadline is Friday, April 15 at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Participation in the NACo Achievement Awards program is an excellent opportunity to earn national recognition for your county’s groundbreaking efforts and to share ideas with your peers across the country.

APPLY TODAY

Through the years, Michigan counties have won dozens of awards in this contest, so don’t hesitate to put your best ideas forward.

 

MAC-backed bills on road patrol funds clear House committee

A MAC-supported legislative package to improve Secondary Road Patrol (SRP) funding via the state liquor tax passed out of the House Government Operations Committee this week.

House Bill 5773, by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Genesee), House Bill 5732, by Tommy Brann (R-Kent), and House Bill 5772, by Rep. David Martin (R-Genesee), would require that $15 million annually from the 4 percent excise tax on liquor go to SRP. At present, the fund receives a $10 assessment from civil infractions, so is dependent on the number of written traffic citations.

Rep. John Cherry (D-Genesee) offered an amendment to HB 5732 to send the $10 assessment on civil infractions to the Drug Treatment Court Fund instead. The amendment did not pass, though, as negotiations are ongoing with the State Budget Office on the use of those funds.

MAC supports these bills as they would create a more stable funding stream for sheriffs’ offices to support road patrols. MAC will continue to monitor the legislation as it moves to the House floor for consideration.

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

 

All set for the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference?

MAC and MCMCFC are wrapping up preparations for the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference that starts Monday, March 21 in downtown Lansing.

Registered attendees should have received an email this week on “Know Before You Go,” with various tips on parking, dining, conference venues, special events and more.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be the conference keynoter, delivering prepared remarks and taking questions from MAC Board members on Wednesday morning, March 23.

The Tuesday slate of speakers is headlined by Denise Winfrey, first vice president of the National Association of Counties and a commissioner in Will County, Illinois.

PLEASE NOTE: On-site registration is available, both for the full conference or a single day.

See you in Lansing!

 

County MCFs need steady rate of state support, MCMCFC tells House panel

Michigan needs to extend the sunset on the current county maintenance of effort (MOE) rate for county medical care facilities (MCFs), so the rate remains capped and predictable, the executive director of the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council told legislators this week.

Renee Beniak testified in support of House Bill 5875, by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Lenawee), before the House Health Policy Committee, which Kahle also chairs. (Beniak’s testimony begins at the 50-minute mark of the video.)

The bill provides an extension to the MOE freeze until 2025, or until the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) implements a new reimbursement model, whichever is sooner.

MDHHS has been studying and contemplating a new reimbursement model and policies for long-term care facilities. Should a new approach be implemented prior to Dec. 31, 2025, MCFs would transition to the new system under the bill.

Other organizations supporting the bill include MAC, the Health Care Association of Michigan and Leading Age Michigan. A committee vote on the bill could occur as early as next week.

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

 

Podcast 83 reviews state of play on county issues at State Capitol

In the latest live episode of Podcast 83 on Monday, March 14, host Deena Bosworth, subbing for Executive Director Stephan Currie, reviewed key county issues in play at the State Capitol with Meghann Keit-Corrion, governmental affairs associate.

Among them were the status of the water infrastructure supplemental spending bill, the debate over fuel tax cuts, broadband funding, federal budget politics and the bid to get reimbursements for the veterans property tax exemption.

To listen to the March 14 episode, click here, or visit MAC’s YouTube channel.

Due to the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference (March 21-23) and the Legislature’s spring break in early April, Podcast 83 is taking a hiatus from live episodes until Monday, April 11.

Look for information on future episodes in your April editions of Legislative Update.

 

State continues to shortchange public health, budget panel told

More state investment is vital for local public health, the head of the Michigan Association of Local Public Health (MALPH) told the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of Health and Human Services this week.

MALPH Executive Director Norm Hess outlined the continued lack of state support for the essential local public health service budget line that funds a core set of basic public health services mandated by law. The Public Health Code requires the state to cover 50 percent of these services, with the remaining 50 percent covered by the local funding unit.

In 2018, however, the state contributed barely half of its required share.

Since then, the Legislature has increased funding to its current level OF $54 million, but that support is still nearly $24 million below the mandated level.

MALPH wants an additional $11.6 million in the FY23 state budget, followed by a $12 million bump in FY24, to get the state to its required contribution.

MAC supports this request and the principle of adequate funding for mandated local public health services, which, at minimum, should include full implementation of the 50/50 cost-sharing mechanism.

A full video of the session can be found here. (Hess’ comments begin at the 2-hour, 24-minute mark.)

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

 

NACo updates Capitol Hill situation on ARP ‘clawback’

The National Association of Counties provided the following update this week on the “state of play with Congress and the White House on a potential recission (or clawback) of ARP Recovery Funds for counties:

“While congressional leaders pulled the recent agreement for $11.5 billion in new COVID investment for testing and PPE with over $7 billion offset from the STATE portion of Recovery Funds, we are still watching closely and urging all counties to let their congressional delegations know how their counties are INVESTING these dollars in important community priorities.

“Below are important talking points, with more context:

  1. Under the structure of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), which Congress passed in March 2021, counties are still scheduled to receive their second tranche of funding no earlier than ONE YEAR after they certified for their first tranche of funding. For most counties, this will occur in May 2022.
  2. Unrelated to ARP, in the original FY22 omnibus spending package, there was a provision that was included to provide an additional $15 billion in COVID-19 funding for therapeutics and testing, with congressional demands to offset these new additional COVID funding. To pay for a portion of the relief, $7.055 billion of unobligated ARP Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (Recovery Fund) would be rescinded. This was eventually removed from the bill and did not occur.

    • Under this original offset mechanism, the bill would first look to the second tranche of ARP funding for 31 states for the clawback, and if there was not enough to cover the portion, it would be a waterfall of different levels of government – territories are the second option, tribal governments the third option and counties and cities as the LAST AND FOURTH option. NACo was given assurances that there were enough unobligated monies at the state level to cover this potential requirement.
  3. Although we avoided an ARP clawback with the omnibus package, we need to be aggressive in messaging how counties are making wise and timely investments to support our residents and economies. The consideration of how to invest these dollars and understand how they can best support our communities takes time.
  1. We need to remind our federal partners of the Treasury certification process and steps for implementation and distribution of dollars:
  • Although the ARPA was signed into law in March 2021, the U.S. Department of Treasury did not stand up the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund program until May 10, 2021, with the Final Rule only issued at the end of December 2021.
  • The first report (Interim Report) was due on Aug. 31, 2021. Only counties that had certified for funds by July 15, 2021, were required to submit a report. Any county that certified after that date could submit a report 60 days after receiving dollars (beyond the Aug. 31, 2021, deadline).
  • Therefore, despite 99 percent of counties now certified, the first wave of reports did not capture the amount counties have obligated and/or spent.
  • Beyond the certification process, counties did not rush to invest funds for non-emergency uses to ensure coordination with state and local partners when allocating dollars to support residents and communities.
  • County boards are moving wisely to approve plans and then work with internal and external partners to allocate funds.

“Future data from Project and Expenditure Reports due on Jan. 31, 2022, and April 30, 2022, will better capture the true investments made with Recovery Funds.”

For questions on this issue, contact Executive Director Stephan Currie at scurrie@micounties.org.

 

March 29 webinar to focus on broadband coverage

Connect Michigan, a nonprofit working with the state to engage in a comprehensive broadband planning and technology initiative as part of a national effort to map and expand broadband, will host a webinar on March 29 on the new Michigan Broadband Infrastructure and Validation project.

The project goal is to collect and update data and maps of broadband services. The project will identify the location of broadband-related infrastructure that can deliver high-speed access throughout Michigan and help the state guide the use of its share of broadband funding under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Register for the webinar by clicking here.

For information, contact Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org

 

Registration is open for 2022 NACo conference in Colorado

Please join county elected and appointed officials from across the country in Adams County, Colo., for the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2022 Annual Conference & Exposition. The conference is the premier national opportunity for counties to exchange cutting-edge practices, elect the association’s leadership and shape NACo’s federal policy agenda for the year ahead.

The conference run is July 21-24. Click here to register.

This year’s conference is headquartered at Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colo. Committee meetings, educational workshops, general sessions, registration and the exhibit hall will be held here unless otherwise noted.

Special rates have been secured, but you must first register for the conference before booking your room. In addition to the headquarters hotel, several nearby hotels are also available at various price points. Click here for more details on housing.

Conference registration rates start at $530.

MAC will host an event at the conference for Michigan attendees.

Rooms in the hotel blocks are reserved for registered attendees. Negotiated rates will expire on June 24 or when the blocks sell out. Reservation instructions are available AFTER you register and will be included in your registration confirmation email.

 

MAC, allies continue push to block mental health privatization

Senate bills that would privatize the state’s mental health system remain on the Senate floor, as MAC and other organizations work to defeat the legislation, which is strongly backed by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson).

The Senate placed Senate Bills 597-598 on the general orders calendar on Wednesday and adopted an updated version, but that has not changed MAC’s opposition — nor that of other opponents. MAC remains opposed to altering our public mental health system by giving financial control and decision-making powers to private insurance companies.

County elected officials, mental health advocates, labor and religious organizations and others continue to express great concern with the proposed policy change. More than half of Michigan’s counties have approved resolutions sharing great concern with the Senate bills, which could devastate services to thousands of individuals and their families who depend on the public behavioral health system for daily and lifelong supports.

In addition to the policy bills, Senate Bill 714, also introduced by the Sen. Shirkey, received an updated version that would increase spending from $350 million to just shy of $540 million. A $15 million fund shift from local funds to the state general fund for Medicaid mental health services is included, but it’s tied to whether SBs 597-598 become law.

Please continue to reach out to your senator directly with MAC’s advocacy tool and share information from MAC and our allies:

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

 

House sends local pension grants bill to Senate

Legislation that would provide grants to local pension systems passed the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday with a 71-33 vote. House Bill 5054 would provide $1.15 billion in grants to local governmental units to bolster their pension programs.

Specifically, HB 5054 would provide $900 million in grants up to $100 million per local unit that currently have pension plans funded at 60 percent or less. Strings attached to this grant program would include:

  • Making all actuarially determined contributions
  • A freeze on any contractual benefit enhancements for 10 years
  • Maintaining discount rates and assumed rates of return
  • Adoption of the most recent mortality tables
  • Agreement to be subjected to corrective action plans for 5 years

In addition to the $900 million, the HB 5054 provides $250 million in a grant program for those local units funded above 60 percent. The maximum award in this category could not exceed 5 percent of available funds and would come with the following strings attached:

  • Pre-fund any retiree health care
  • Make all actuarially determined contributions
  • Maintain discount rates and assumed rates of return
  • Adoption of the most recent mortality tables
  • Grants applied first to pension systems so that they system is 100% funded

For those units already funded at 100 percent, grants from the $250 million account could be used for principal payments on any outstanding debt obligations or, if the unit has zero debt, for infrastructure investments. 

These funds would come from the state General Fund surplus and not from federally allocated COVID relief funds.

MAC is still reviewing the benefits to counties and the potential interactions with bargaining rights.

The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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

 

Property tax reimbursement bills clear Senate committee

Long-needed legislation to reimburse local governments from property tax losses due to an exemption for veterans moved to the Senate floor this week.

The Senate Finance Committee voted out this week Senate Bill 783 and Senate Bill 784, by Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), which would establish a refundable income tax credit program, payable to the local governments in the amount of the property tax exemption.  This approach would finally reimburse local governments from their property tax losses associated with the exemption without requiring any additional steps for eligible disabled veterans.

The bills have broad support from veterans’ organizations, MAC and other local government organizations. The Michigan Department of Treasury, however, currently opposes the bills.

The bills now move to the Senate floor.

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

 

Early-bird pricing extended for conference, but time is running out to register!

MAC has extended early-bird pricing for county leaders to attend the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference to March 15. This means you can attend all conference events over the three-day run (March 21-23) for just $395.

Click here to start your registration process.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will keynote the conference, addressing a plenary session on Wednesday, March 23.

The 2022 event, co-hosted by the Michigan Association of Counties and the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities council, also will feature:

  • A plenary session address by Larry Johnson, president of the National Association of Counties
  • A MAC Legislative Update, led by Deena Bosworth, director of governmental affairs
  • Remarks from MAC President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County and Executive Director Stephan Currie
  • Breakout sessions on current challenges for county leaders, including workforce development, the Open Meetings Act, trends in mobility on Michigan roads, American Rescue Plan spending and how to deal with stress in these stressful times
  • A Legislative Reception on the evening of Tuesday, March 22, during which MAC will present its County Advocate Awards for legislative service in 2021

The conference will be an in-person event, though MAC plans to livestream select breakout sessions on Facebook.

Your conference registration fee provides access to all conference events, snacks at the Radisson Hotel on Monday afternoon, the Legislative Reception with appetizers and beverages, two breakfasts at the Lansing Center (Tues-Wed), lunch on Tuesday at the Lansing Center and a boxed lunch on Wednesday you can take with you on your journey home.

Commissioners who attend the conference will receive credit in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.

The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC) has its own specialized workshops with members that offer Continuing Education credits.

 

Next Podcast 83 live session is Monday, March 7

MAC’s Podcast 83 team will again be gathering for a live broadcast, this time on Monday, March 7 at 4 p.m.

Among topics to be covered will be legislation to privatize Michigan’s locally controlled mental health system and the debate over income tax cuts in Lansing.

To join this session, which will include a Q&A segment, just use this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82867692853.

A recording of last Monday’s live session is now available on MAC’s YouTube channel.

And, of course, you can find links and information on any prior Podcast 83 episode on its webpage.

 

State experts discuss opioid funds in MAC webinar

County leaders were briefed Wednesday by state officials on the latest information regarding money from the National Opioid Settlement during a MAC-sponsored webinar.

Assistant Attorney General Matt Walker and Dr. Debra A. Pinals of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services presented during the webinar.

To see the slides from the webinar, click here.

MDHHS and the Attorney General’s Office also have advised MAC that they will be hosting an opioid settlement webinar series in April. More information will be provided once made available to MAC.

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

 

Bill filed to extend key funding policy for medical care facilities

A bill introduced this week would ensure the maintenance of effort (MOE) rate to support county medical care facilities remains capped and predictable. House Bill 5875, by House Health Policy Committee Chair Bronna Kahle (R-Lenawee), provides an extension to the MOE freeze until 2025, or until the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) implements a new reimbursement model, whichever is sooner.

County MCFs are considered Class III providers serving as the state’s safety net for long-term care skilled nursing home beds. County facilities tend to have a larger Medicaid population than other providers and in order to support that higher caseload, a higher Medicaid rate is available. In 1980, the state established the MOE tax as a way to bring in more federal money to the Medicaid system. This reimbursement system is a mutually beneficial partnership between the state and counties with county medical care facilities by reducing the state’s share of paying out Medicaid dollars, while, at the same time, maintaining the amount of money the counties approve to support their facilities. 

MDHHS has been studying and contemplating a new reimbursement model and policies for long-term care facilities. Should a new approach be implemented prior to Dec. 31, 2025, MCFs would transition to the new system under the bill.

The current sunset on the MOE is in December of this year, so an extension is a priority for the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council. MCMCFC is greatly appreciative of Rep. Kahle’s support of this legislation and will encourage swift legislative action.

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

 

House committee advances $1.15 billion for local pension grants

On Thursday in a joint committee meeting of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Tax Policy Committee, House Bill 5054 was voted out to the full House. This supplemental spending bill would provide $1.15 billion in grants to local governmental units to bolster their pension programs.

Specifically, HB 5054 would provide $900 million in grants up to $100 million per local unit that currently have pension plans funded at 60 percent or less. Strings attached to this grant program would include:

  • Making all actuarially determined contributions
  • A freeze on any contractual benefit enhancements for 10 years
  • Maintaining discount rates and assumed rates of return
  • Adoption of the most recent mortality tables
  • Agreement to be subjected to corrective action plans for 5 years

In addition to the $900 million, the HB 5054 provides $250 million in a grant program for those local units funded above 60 percent. The maximum award in this category could not exceed 5 percent of available funds and would come with the following strings attached:

  • Pre-fund any retiree health care
  • Make all actuarially determined contributions
  • Maintain discount rates and assumed rates of return
  • Adoption of the most recent mortality tables
  • Grants applied first to pension systems so that they system is 100% funded

FOR THOSE UNITS ALREADY FUNDED AT 100 percent, grants from the $250 million account could be used for principal payments on any outstanding debt obligations or, if the unit has zero debt, for infrastructure investments. 

These funds would come from the state General Fund surplus and not from federally allocated COVID relief funds.

MAC is still reviewing the benefits to counties and the potential interactions with bargaining rights.

The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.

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

 

Veterans property tax exemption bill heard in Senate

MAC’s Deena Bosworth (right) joined with representatives of MML and MTA on Wednesday to support legislation on reimbursements for property tax exemptions.

After years of negotiations, Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) introduced Senate Bill 783 and  Senate Bill 784 with the support of veterans organizations and local government organizations. The bills would establish a refundable income tax credit program, payable to the local governments in the amount of the property tax exemptions now given to disabled veterans. This approach would finally reimburse local governments from their losses associated with the exemption without requiring any additional steps for eligible disabled veterans. MAC testified Wednesday in support of the legislation along with other local government groups and veterans organizations. The Michigan Department of Treasury currently opposes the bills, so work will continue on the legislation to make it workable for all entities affected. 

In related news, Rep. Beau LaFave (R- Dickinson) is currently running House Bill 4908, which creates a fund for veterans organizations and, if the fund exceeds $4 million, would reimburse local units for their losses associated with the property tax exemption. HB 4908 would derive its revenue from lottery pull-tabs. It is unclear at this time just how much revenue this would raise and how it would be distributed should it not cover the cost of the exemptions. 

MAC will continue to support Senate Bills 783-784 as they move through the Legislature.

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

 

Renew your opposition to mental health privatization

Legislation that would damage mental health services in Michigan will soon get a vote in the Senate, and we need county leaders to voice their opposition.

Senate Bills 597-98, by Senate Majority Leader Shirkey (R-Jackson) and Sen. John Bizon (R-Calhoun), would shift financial administration of Medicaid mental health services to private Medicaid health plans. These bills ultimately take away public accountability and local governance and turn control over to for-profit private insurance companies that do not have a good track record in treating patients with mental health needs.

MAC opposes any move to shift toward privatization of our local public mental health system.

Earlier this week, a poll was released showing that two-thirds supported mental health being led by local public entities. Responding to those findings, MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie said, “Our members have heard of concerns first-hand from their constituents and these results just confirm voters worry about letting private health plans take control of the services for our most vulnerable populations. It is clear that Michiganders and County Commissioners from across the state believe that keeping a local public mental health system is best.”

Please help MAC convince the Senate to set aside these bills.

Using our advocacy platform, MAC is again asking you to send an email of opposition to your senator today.

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

 

Join Podcast 83 team on Feb. 28 for live update

MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie and the Podcast 83 team of Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit will be live on Monday, Feb. 28 to discuss the flurry of legislative events in Lansing in recent days and take your questions.

The update will begin at a new time: 4 p.m. To join the session, just use this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82867692853.

Among likely topics to be addressed are: legislation to provide $1.15 billion in local pension grants; bills to privatize the mental health system; the latest on reimbursing counties for property tax exemptions for disabled veterans; and preparations for the upcoming Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

Viewers will be able to ask questions of the team as well.

If you can’t catch the episode live, a recording will be posted later next week to MAC’s YouTube channel.

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

 

Bill to end cap on crime tip rewards clears House

Counties would have full freedom of action to set rewards they offer for information leading to an arrest and conviction under a bill passed unanimously by the Michigan House of Representatives this week.

House Bill 4173, by Rep. Kara Hope (D-Ingham), would remove a $2,000 cap on a reward a county board can offer for the arrest and conviction of a person who has committed a crime or escaped from prison or jail in that county. Counties would decide their reward amounts, and awards would be paid out of the general fund of the county.

MAC supports this bill as a way to provide local control over county general funds and remove outdated statutory limitations. The bill now moves to the Senate but has not yet been assigned to a committee.

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

 

Mason County administrator picked for state workforce panel

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced appointments to the Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council created by Executive Order 2021-15. Their goal will be to identify review, develop and recommend policies, administrative actions, legislative changes, and other approaches to support high-quality nursing home care. 

Among the appointees is Jannice L. Lamm, administrator with Oakview Medical Care Facility in Mason County. She is appointed to represent county government nursing home employers.

The Council will also include the directors or their designees of the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and the Michigan State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Salli Pung. 

The Council must submit a final report or consensus recommendations to the governor by or before Dec. 1, 2023. Appointees will serve until the council dissolves on Dec. 1, 2023.

 

CRC webinar will analyze governor’s budget proposal

“A relatively strong economy and the availability of new federal funding creates circumstances for an unusual process for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget – a growth budget,” reports the Citizens Research Council of Michigan in announcing a March 4 webinar, “Analysis of Governor Whitmer’s Proposed FY2023 Budget.”

Beginning at 11 a.m. on March 4, CRC’s Bob Schneider and Craig Thiel will “review the governor’s proposed budget to take stock of available revenues, highlight spending priorities, analyze recommendations for school funding and other major budget categories, describe the historic context of the proposed budget, assess the effects of proposed tax cuts, and analyze the proposed uses of COVID-relief, infrastructure, and state surplus dollars. Join us to have your questions answered and better understand the details of the proposed FY2023 budget.”

Click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

MAC is a long-time supporter of the Citizens Research Council and its work to provide facts and data on public policy in our state.

 

State commits $1.2 billion to health response on COVID

A supplemental appropriation bill signed by Gov. Gretchen Witmer this week commits $1.2 billion to health care efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, now Public Act 9 of 2022, includes appropriations to address health worker recruitment and retention, plus funding for COVID-19 early treatment and various testing supports.

Highlights of the spending bill include:

  • $300 million for eligible health care recruitment, retention and training programming for new investments. A health care provider must demonstrate an eligible qualifying need under the rules and regulations of the federal coronavirus state fiscal recovery funding and must not request funds for any investments related to recruitment or retention announced before Dec. 1, 2021. The bill also requires 75 percent be allocated for acute care and behavioral health care providers, which would be administered by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, and requires 25 percent be allocated to post-acute care providers and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • $10 million as a competitive grant program for nursing facilities to convert multi-resident rooms into single-resident rooms. Grant awards would reimburse 50 percent of the cost, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) would have to prioritize converting rooms with more than 2 residents into single-resident rooms.
  • $29 million to assist nursing homes fund physical repairs and improvements of the facility. There is a $500,000 cap for each nursing home.
  • $29.7 million to local and tribal health departments, as well as schools, to support staffing costs of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. Of this, $14.9 million specifically goes to school districts, public school academies, intermediate school districts and nonpublic schools. The bill prohibits MDHHS from allocating funds to any local public health departments in which a county board of commissioners has passed a resolution rejecting these funds within 30 days of effective date of this act.
  • $10 million for programs and planning for a new state public health and environmental science laboratory.

A further detailed analysis can be found here.

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

 

Michigan delegation to NACo event attends Biden speech

A delegation of more than 30 county commissioners and other county leaders led by MAC Board President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County attended the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., this week.

One of the highlights of the event was a Tuesday address by President Joe Biden to a general session of the conference that included a reference to our own Oakland County. (See the 9:10 mark of this video.)

To make room for Biden’s address on the schedule, MAC and the offices of U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters were forced to scrub the traditional Senate briefing for Michigan county leaders on Capitol Hill, which had been slated for Tuesday afternoon.

MAC President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County and Alisha Bell of Wayne County at the MAC reception on Feb. 15.

Michigan leaders were able to attend a wide array of policy briefings on challenges before county government, including housing shortages and affordability, cybersecurity and implementing the 988 call line on suicide prevention.

MAC also hosted a reception on Tuesday evening for Michigan attendees to catch up and exchange notes.

“The president’s address to county leaders was the capper of an excellent conference,” said Stephan W. Currie, executive director. “As our members continue to develop their investment plans for American Rescue Plan funds, the conference sessions will prove invaluable.”

For a complete rundown of conference activities and resources, click here.

 

Coalition launches investment tracker on ARP funding

The Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan, a group of private and public sector groups including MAC, recently launched a tracker so Michigan residents can see what the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are doing with American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

To see the tracker, click here.

“This visual illustrates the Coalition’s bold vision for strategic investment of Michigan’s available ARP allocation,” the coalition announced with the data seen at right. “Significant work remains to strategically invest more than $6.5 billion in the key areas recommended by the Coalition proposal.”

MAC continues to work with coalition partners to brief legislators on its plan to pair state and local ARP funds to create historic investments in public services.

For details on the coalition’s Roadmap to Prosperity, click here.

 

Join MAC for important update on opioid settlement

MAC, in partnership with the state and other local government groups, will be hosting a webinar on the National Opioid Settlement on March 2 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Use this URL to join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81195931850?pwd=eXJWeVBKT0wxSG1LUHErcTJFMEg4Zz09

The webinar will provide an opportunity for local elected officials to learn more about the timeline and eligible uses of funds, as well as offer insights to best practices from state partners.

Presenting at the webinar will be:

  • Dr. Debra Pinals, medical director of the Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the director of the Program in Psychiatry, Law, & Ethics and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and Clinical Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan Law School.
  • Matt Walker, assistant attorney general in the Corporate Oversight Division. Matt works on Michigan’s opioid litigation and serves as the Attorney General’s designee on the governor’s Opioid Task Force.

There will be time for Q&A during the webinar, or feel free to email questions directly to Hannah Sweeney at Sweeney@micounties.org prior to March 2.

 

State offering $400 million to aid businesses, job growth

A new grant program will offer $409 million in grants to aid businesses and create jobs, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week.

Under the program, which begins March 1, “eligible businesses in operation before Oct. 1, 2019, may receive a percentage of their loss in total state sales through a grant, up to $5 million. Eligible businesses that began operating between October 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020, may receive a grant equal to 25 percent of certain specified costs. The grants may be prorated depending upon the number of businesses that apply to ensure that all eligible businesses can receive funding,” the governor’s office explained in a statement.

Businesses must submit a completed online application to the Michigan Department of Treasury no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on March 31. Grant awardees will be notified in the spring and grant awards will be distributed by July 1, 2022. 

The application will become available at 8 a.m. EST on March 1 at www.michigan.gov/abr

Businesses interested in applying are encouraged to attend one of the following informational webinars hosted by the state Treasury Department: 

  • Tuesday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-11 a.m. EST 
  • Monday, March 7, 1 p.m.-2 p.m. EST 

Details for signing up for a webinar can be found on the grant program’s website.  

To learn more about the Afflicted Business Relief Grant Program or read frequently asked questions, go to www.michigan.gov/abr

 

MAC offices closed on Monday, Feb. 21

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 21 to observe the federal Presidents Day holiday.

Normal office hours will resume on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

 

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