FY24 budget remains on track after revenue conference

State legislators now in the final phases of preparation for the fiscal 2024 budget still have the resources to cover General Fund spending in the $14 billion range, state experts told the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference today.

While the conference finalized headline revenue figures to use for FY24 at levels substantially below their January 2023 estimates, the actual resources available to state budgeters are largely unchanged from earlier in this year, MAC is told.

This is due to the impact and timing of various tax policy changes implemented in recent months, such as the elimination of the “pension tax,” the increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and a cut in the personal income tax rate.

In the vote Friday morning, the conference adopted a net General Fund revenue total of $13.24 billion, an apparent huge decrease from January estimates.

However, resources for FY24 and carrying over from prior budget years allow for both the House and Senate appropriations bills to be funded as they presently stand. The chambers, though, still have to reconcile differences in their budgets before the Legislature’s mandated deadline of June 30 to complete budget work.

The FY24 budget would take effect on Oct. 1, 2023.

For FY24, the state would be $12 billion underneath the constitutional revenue limit imposed by the Headlee Amendment approved by voters in 1978.

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

 

MAC continues to monitor solar taxation bills

Legislation to create an optional structure for the taxes levied on solar facilities was discussed this week in the House Committee on Tax Policy. 

After years of participation in workgroups to ensure local options, a stable funding source, appropriate zoning considerations and adequate local reimbursements, MAC has taken a neutral position on the legislation.

House Bills 4317 and 4318, by Reps. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason) and Cynthia Neeley (D-Genesee) respectively, would allow for the creation of solar energy districts by local municipalities after a mandatory public hearing. Subsequently, solar energy developers could apply for an exemption from local property taxes and instead pay a flat rate of $7,000 per megawatt of nameplate capacity for the proposed solar energy facility, instead of ad valorem property taxes. The payment would be locked in for 20 years and distributed based on the proportions of normal taxes that would have been paid to each taxing unit. 

An additional financial incentive would be offered for developers that choose to site their facilities on brownfield properties, in opportunity zones, as a secondary use on already improved real property (i.e., rooftops) or on state-owned property. In such cases, the reimbursement rate would be $2,000 per megawatt of nameplate capacity. 

The impetus behind the legislation is twofold. First, this methodology for compensating locals for lost taxes will provide financial predictability for the developers and the locals, hopefully avoiding the same problems we have had with the legal challenges to the valuation of wind turbines.  Second, the rate and process should serve as incentives for developers to build more renewable energy facilities in the state.  

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

 

Bills introduced to create a statewide septic code

Legislation establishing a statewide septic code has been introduced in both the House and Senate. House Bills 447980, by Reps. Phil Skaggs (D-Kent) and Carrie Rheingans (D-Washtenaw) respectively, and Senate Bills 299300, by Sen. Sam Singh (D-Ingham), would require homeowners with onsite wastewater treatment systems to have them inspected every five years.

As of 2020, about 30 percent of state households relied on septic systems, but many are aging and facing failure. The intent of the legislation is to protect waterways from contamination and combat illness caused by increased levels of E. coli and algae blooms. While Michigan remains the only state in the nation without a statewide septic code, the proposed policy changes may be overly burdensome.

Local public health departments will be authorized to conduct inspections, issue permits and respond to complaints of failure under the bills. A permit would be required for any installation, alteration or repair of a septic system. Additionally, a building permit may not be issued for any construction on a premises served by a septic system unless a permit by the health department is first issued.

Further, homeowners would be liable for the cost of the inspection and any repairs or replacements deemed necessary. It remains unclear how much an inspection would cost, but a $25 administrative fee will be added to each inspection to be placed in a fund used to help local health departments complete their duties. The fund also will provide some grants to homeowners who are below a certain poverty threshold.

At present, a county can adopt a point-of-sale ordinance on septic systems. Should this legislation pass, however, they would lose that ability. There are 11 counties who have such an ordinance on the books, and they would be given seven years after the bills’ effective date to phase them out.

A technical advisory committee would be created and would include representatives from various regional health departments, engineers, septic manufacturers and installers, among others. The committee will be responsible for writing the septic code and promulgating rules. They will be required to consider local soil conditions during this process, so while it may be a uniform code, it will be crafted to the needs of local ecosystems.

MAC does not yet have a position on the legislation but has many concerns. We anticipate a workgroup will be created to allow stakeholders and bill sponsors to work through the details in the coming months.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Federal legislation introduced to revisit Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy

Two bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate to address the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MEIP). The Due Process Continuity of Care Act and the Reentry Act were introduced in March, which would amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy.

The Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy is a federal statute that terminates access to federal health benefits at the time of arrest. These bills would allow continuity of care via access to critical health services for incarcerated individuals. The Due Process Continuity of Care Act would “allow pretrial detainees to receive Medicaid benefits at the option of the state and provide $50 million in planning grant dollars to states and localities for implementing the MIEP repeal, improving the quality of care provided in jails and enhancing the number of available providers to treat this population.”

The Reentry Act would “allow Medicaid payment for medical services furnished to an eligible incarcerated individual during the 30-day period preceding the individual’s release.” MAC, along with other stakeholders, has requested the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services apply for a Section 1115 waiver relating to the MIEP, allowing for Medicaid eligibility for incarcerated individuals prior to release.

MAC supports these bills and access to better care for incarcerated individuals in county jails. Should these bills pass, counties will have a streamlined process to provide effective behavioral health care and services for transitions to community care, while recidivism rates and risk for post-release overdoses should fall.

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

 

Podcast 83 discusses state budget, ongoing gravel control battle

Progress on the state’s fiscal 2024 budget continues to look promising for Michigan counties, and MAC and its allies are having success in fending off ill-considered mining legislation in the Michigan House, MAC’s Podcast 83 team said in its most recent episode.

Host Stephan Currie and guests Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC’s Governmental Affairs staff reviewed the last week’s activity in Lansing in this episode, focusing on:

  • The state budget and the May 19 Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, which may show state resources are not as high as were once expected;
  • The ongoing battle over gravel and sand mining regulation, with MAC and its allies battling against an attack on local control;
  • The latest on juvenile justice reform legislation, one of MAC’s key priorities for 2023; and
  • The arrival of legislation for a statewide septic code.

View the full video of the episode, recorded on May 15, 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.

 

Next ‘Fiscally Ready’ session set for May 23

The Michigan Department of Treasury and Michigan State University Extension will co-host the next Fiscally Ready Communities training webinar, titled, “Financial Best Practices,” at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23.

This FREE, 90-minute training, updated for 2023, discusses the fundamental best practices for fiscal and operational planning and provides an overview of best practices in financial policies and good governance.

Training topics include:

  • Budgets
  • Multi-Year Budget Forecasting Tool
  • Cash controls
  • Debt
  • Grants
  • Internal controls
  • Purchasing policies
  • Receipting

Please register for webinar at https://events.anr.msu.edu/fiscalbestpractice.

For more information about Fiscally Ready Communities, please check out the Treasury Fiscally Ready Communities webpage. This webpage includes Treasury’s 32-page Fiscally Ready Communities Best Practices document, which we encourage all local officials to review.

If you have any questions, please email TreasLocalGov@michigan.gov with the subject line “Fiscally Ready.”

 

County revenue sharing in line for big boost under budget plans

County revenue sharing could grow by as much as 17 percent in fiscal 2024 under decisions made this week by key subcommittees in the Michigan House and Senate.

In the House, the Appropriations Subcommittee on the General Government approved House Bill 4292, by Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Washtenaw), which follows Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan for a 17 percent hike in revenue sharing.

This increase is divided into several segments:

  • 5 percentage points would be ongoing and for general use
  • 5 percentage points would be a one-time appropriation for general use
  • 2 percentage points would be ongoing and restricted to public safety uses
  • 5 percentage points would be a one-time appropriation restricted to public safety uses

In all, these changes would place FY24 revenue sharing at more than $285 million.

The Senate’s boost is smaller than the House’s but still large. Senate Bill 189, by Sen. John Cherry (D-Genesee), includes the same ongoing and one-time boosts for general use as the House (see bullets 1 and 2 above), but it does not include the additional funds for public safety. 

Overall, the Senate’s plan would have revenue sharing at $269 million for FY24.

In another positive note, and based on a MAC request, the Senate subcommittee plan would end the County Incentive Program and its requirements for the annual submission of verification of the posting of budgets online and the publication of citizen guides.

The Senate proposal also allows access to any unallocated funds from a $750 million appropriation for municipal pension assistance for use as grants for those local governments with OPEB obligations funded at 7 percent or less. An exact allocation for this will not be known until pension grants have been allocated.

Finally, on the Senate side, Sen. Cherry recommended a new program in the Department of Attorney General to assist communities with high crime by allocating $10 million and 45 full-time positions. 

To be clear, these amounts are far from final. The next huge budget step is the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) on May 19 to set final resource numbers for FY24.  Following CREC, committee chairs will be given more specific budget targets and will amend the bills accordingly.

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

 

Five commissioners elected to MAC Board; Wayne’s Daub appointed as second vice president

New Board members (l-r) Sarah Lucido, Rick Shaffer, Dwight Washington and Bryan Kolk take their oaths on April 26. Not pictured: Donald O’Farrell.

During special elections held April 25 at the Michigan Counties Legislative Conference, county commissioners elected five new members to the Michigan Association of Counties Board of Directors.

The newest members of the 16-member governing body are:

  • Dwight Washington of Clinton County
  • Donald O’Farrell of Iosco County
  • Sarah Lucido of Macomb County
  • Bryan Kolk of Newaygo County
  • Rick Shaffer of St. Joseph County

After they were sworn in on April 26, the five participated in a vote to name Melissa Daub of Wayne County as the MAC Second Vice President. Daub joined the MAC Board in 2021.

Also serving as officers for the Board in MAC’s 125th Anniversary year are President Stan Ponstein of Kent County and First Vice President Jim Storey of Allegan County.

For more information on the MAC Board, click here.

 

Association may be oldest in U.S., NACo leader tells 2023 conference

Matthew Chase addresses the 2023 Legislative Conference.

MAC and its members were treated to two anniversary presents at the 2023 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

Prior to his remarks on April 25 to a plenary session of the event, which drew approximately 300 to Lansing, Matthew Chase, CEO of the National Association of Counties, presented President Stan Ponstein and other MAC leaders a crystal trophy for the MAC display case.

More importantly, and surprisingly, Chase shared a bit of news: MAC just may be the oldest counties association in the entire country!

“I can say we were equal parts surprised and pleased to hear Matt’s nugget of news about our historic position,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director. “He did tell us his research isn’t quite complete, but, as of now, there’s no information that any association is older than MAC. If that holds, we will have even more to celebrate at the Anniversary Gala we are planning for the Annual Conference in October.”

The conference also included:

  • State of MAC and Legislative Update reports
  • A briefing on the state budget from State Budget Director Chris Harkins
  • A discussion on legislative priorities with the leaders of the Michigan House and Senate
  • 12 policy breakout sessions

Presentations and other documents from the conference can be found here.

Photos from the conference can be found here.

MAC’s next major event is the Annual Conference, planned for Oct. 1-3 at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo. Registration for that event should open in early August.

For the latest information on MAC events, click here.

 

Child Care Fund boost highlights DHHS budget plans

A MAC-supported increase in the reimbursement rate for the Child Care Fund is included in both legislative versions of the fiscal 2024 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services that cleared key subcommittees this week.

In line with a recommendation of the Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, the budget plans boost the county Child Care Fund reimbursement rate from 50 percent to 75 percent, a $31.5 million increase. This conforms with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s FY24 budget plan.

The House subcommittee also recommended:

  • $1.3 million to provide services at Bay Pines and Shawono juvenile justices facilities (another recommendation from the Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform)
  • $19.3 million to fund an 8 percent increase to daily maintenance payments to foster parents, adoptive parents and juvenile guardians (a MAC legislative priority)
  • Placing Michigan’s foster care per diem rate above the national average
  • $25 million to build a juvenile justice facility in Northern Michigan (another MAC priority)
  • $14 million for the state share towards local public health departments
  • $5 million to replace local funding used for Medicaid mental health supports and services (this reflects the fourth year of phasing out the local match portion over a five-year period)

The Senate recommendation includes $30 million to support the state share for increases to local public health departments, which aligns with the governor’s budget plan. When compared to the House recommendation, you will see the House has only recommended funding for approximately 50 percent of the costs of local public health services.

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

 

Legislative panels add dollars to governor’s transportation plans

Road dollars in fiscal 2024 would be more plentiful than Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had proposed in February under spending plans approved by House and Senate subcommittees this week.

Both chambers appropriated more than Whitmer recommended; the House version is $222.6 million over, while the Senate’s is $240 million over. 

The largest addition by the House is $400 million for local road preservation, which would be distributed to local road agencies based on population. The House left a $100 placeholder for the bridge bundling program, so the $200 million the governor had recommended was not included in the House plan.

The House also included:

  • $75 million in local bus operating investments
  • $33 million for rail grade separations

The Senate also cut the governor’s bridge bundling program, reducing it from $200 million to $150 million. They also cut the Intermodal Capital Investment Grant Program from $160 million to $100 million.

Notably, the Senate added $150 million for local road funding projects for the six most populous counties (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent, Genesee, Washtenaw), distributed by population. Subcommittee Chair Sen. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Macomb) explained that while the larger counties pay more into the Michigan Transportation Fund, they don’t always see the return on investment.

The Senate also included:

  • $100 million for critical infrastructure projects
  • $100 million for high-speed rail
  • $50 million for a single rail grade separation project in Trenton

The budget process will continue in May. MAC will provide updates as necessary.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Pay boosts for medical workers advance in Legislature

Employees at medical care facilities would be looking at pay boosts under budget plans approved by Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittees for fiscal 2024 this week.

The Senate recommendation includes a 65-cent boost per hour for direct care workers and a $3 per hour wage increase for non-direct care staff at long-term care facilities. The House recommendation includes $90 million to increase non-clinical nursing facility staff hourly wages by $3.85 per hour. This amount would reflect the current $2.35 direct care wage increase, plus the additional $1.50 proposed for the current cohort of direct care workers. The House budget recommendation also included a $1.50 per hour direct care worker wage increase.

The FY24 budget is anticipated to be finalized in June.

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

 

Bid to expand binding arbitration resumes in Legislature

County correctional officers would qualify for binding arbitration under a bill filed in Lansing on April 20.

House Bill 4438, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland), would expand binding arbitration beyond police and fire labor bargaining units to county correctional officers. The bill is likely to advance in the Legislature this year.

HB 4438 is a reintroduction from last term, which MAC fought against. MAC has long opposed any expansion of binding arbitration to other bargaining units due to the cost of the process, the long-term liabilities associated with third-party decisions and the unequal treatment such a system provides to those bargaining units. The Michigan Public Employment Relations Act already provides for bargaining rights without tying the hands of the county in binding arbitration.

MAC plans to continue opposition to the bill.

However, in light of the legislative majority’s strong support for unions and collective bargaining units, it will certainly be more difficult to shut it down this time around. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Criminal Justice.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Boat wrap recycling program now under way

The Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC), a statewide recycling advocate and association, is currently organizing another year of “Recycle Run,” a boat shrink-wrap recycling program. Last year alone, the program helped recycle 90,000 pounds of plastic.

The program is open and accepting new participants until June 1, 2023. Recycle Run is accessible to boaters across the state and allows for shrink-wrap boat covers to be diverted from landfills.

To participate, boaters purchase the Recycle Run bags from Dr. Shrink’s website for $7. A bag holds approximately one large boat cover or two small boat covers. Interested participants will also sign up on the Michigan Recycling Coalition’s website to officially register for the collection program. Participants with more than 15 bags of material qualify for a free direct pick-up by the MRC’s program partners. Participants with less material can participate by dropping their bags off at one of the many volunteer locations around the state. These boat covers are otherwise not accepted in curbside recycling programs.

Michigan has more than 800,000 registered boats. For every bag of covers that is recycled, we save:

  • 115 KWH of energy
  • 5 gallons of oil
  • 20 cubic feet of landfill space

The MRC is a nonprofit that fosters sustainability by leading, educating and mobilizing businesses, governments, nonprofits and individuals to advance their own and collective resource use and recovery initiatives in Michigan.

 

NACo: Highlight the county role in mental health in May

Join the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors in recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month, May 2023, to highlight the county role in behavioral health.

Earlier this year, NACo launched a Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing to address the ever-growing mental health crisis. Next month, NACo will release research on essential county perspectives on high-quality, accessible mental health services.

Mental Health Awareness Month is your opportunity to shine a light on mental health awareness, services, and innovation, and advance behavioral health policy priorities.

Explore NACo’s toolkit of resources to help you participate, including a resolution template, sample letters to Congress, press release and social media templates, and more. We encourage counties to pursue any effort – large or small.

We look forward to featuring county efforts – submit your plan for Mental Health Awareness Month here.

 

Legislative Conference begins 3-day run on Monday

Nearly 300 county leaders, policy experts and others will converge on Lansing on Monday for the start of the 2023 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference, the first major conference of MAC’s 125th Anniversary year.

Attendees may check in for the conference starting at noon at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing. Light snacks will be available in the registration area.

Policy breakouts get under way for MAC members at 2 p.m., with sessions on Michigan’s trails system, the trial court funding crisis and the impact of electric vehicles on road funding in our state.

Plenary sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday will feature:

  • Matthew Chase, CEO of the National Association of Counties
  • Chris Harkins, Michigan’s state budget director
  • A legislative leadership panel

Commissioners attending the conference also will participate in MAC caucus elections on Tuesday to fill five seats on the MAC Board of Directors.

A Legislative Reception on Tuesday evening will feature the presentation of MAC’s County Advocate Awards to Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) and Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Muskegon).

See conference agenda.
See full conference program.

For more information on the conference, visit MAC’s website.

 

MAC-backed public notices bill filed in House

Legislation creating the framework to allow public bodies to post their notices digitally to save time and money is back before the Legislature.

Under House Bill 4428, by Rep. Kevin Coleman (D-Wayne), local units would no longer be required to post their notices in a newspaper but only share them online. This would modernize public notices law, save counties time and money and create more avenues for our citizens to receive public notices.

HB 4428 is identical to a bill he sponsored last term that was not enacted. MAC supported this legislation the last time around, with MAC’s Deena Bosworth testifying before the House Oversight Committee on its behalf.

The Michigan Press Association has long opposed this concept because its members rely on the fees they charge locals for publishing such notices.

This bill is just the first of more than 100 bills that will be necessary to implement the change. HB 4428 will serve as the framework, while the trailer bills will amend each statute requiring the notice to be published in a newspaper.

HB 4428 has been referred to the House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance. MAC plans to support the bill.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Legislative panels cut governor’s request on indigent defense

There would be fewer dollars for the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) in fiscal 2024 than the governor has requested under spending plans approved by House and Senate subcommittees this week.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Budget included a $72 million increase to MIDC grant funding as a response to the state’s approval of Standard 8, the Attorney Compensation Standard. However, the subcommittees rejected this approach.

House Bill 4280 includes a $57.2 million increase, totaling their MIDC budget to $206 million. Senate Bill 195 includes a $59 million increase, totaling the Senate version of the MIDC budget to $208.7 million. The governor’s recommended full funding for MIDC is $220 million.

The MIDC grant funding that is allocated to counties, so long as they comply with the state-approved Standards 1-8.

MAC is continuously working to ensure the state provides full funding to counties via MIDC grant dollars, as they are mandated to do. While it is still early in the budget process, and there is potential for the MIDC appropriation to increase, it is important to note that without full funding provided by the state, counties are not mandated to comply with Standard 8.

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

 

Financial strains on legal staffing are subject of special podcast episode

In a special episode, Podcast 83 delves into the growing financial strain on counties imposed by directives of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.

Host Stephan Currie and MAC staffers Deena Bosworth and Samantha Gibson discussed the state panel’s work and its impacts with two of its members:

  • Margaret McAvoy, former Isabella County administrator
  • Andrew DeLeeuw, interim deputy county administrator for Washtenaw County

The pair talked about their experience on the commission, which “was created by legislation in 2013 after an advisory commission recommended improvements to the state’s legal system. The MIDC works to ensure the state’s public defense system is fair, cost-effective and constitutional while simultaneously protecting public safety and accountability,” and the importance of its work.

Gibson reviewed the of MIDC’s new standard 8 on prosecuting attorney offices and staffing.

See the full video of the session, taped on April 12, 2023.

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

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

 

Additional templates posted to assist with opioid settlement planning

MAC has released additional supplemental documents to the Michigan Opioid Settlements Funds Toolkit: A Guide for Local Spending. The new templates include:

  • Request for Proposals and Associated Budget Template (PDF)(Word) (Excel)
    • Files created to assist counties with looking to solicit proposals for funding from community-based organizations, entities and groups.
  • Vendor/Contractor Agreement (PDF)(Word)
    • Modeled after Monroe County contract; created to accompany the funds that would be allocated to entities outside the County and govern the terms and conditions and requirements. This serves as financial management practice to ensure funds disbursed are utilized in alignment with the settlements and county constraints.
  • Pass Through Entity Agreement (PDF)(Word)
    • File created to aid with contracting with pass-through entities, whether utilizing the external organization to subcontract all or a percentage of the settlement funds.
  • Public-facing Planning Process Document (PDF)(Word)
    • Document created to share publicly for counties looking to inform community members of the planning process undertaken by the county. This document is also intended to inform the community of anticipated stakeholder engagement and request for proposals processes.

If you have specific templates that you would like created, or questions, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

Environmental spending plans head in different directions

Subcommittees in the Michigan House and Senate this week took notably different avenues on plans for water infrastructure and other items advanced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in her fiscal 2024 budget.

The House Appropriations Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Subcommittee got creative, recommending $100 million more than the governor did by replacing hundreds of millions in state General Fund dollars with federal funding.

Most notably, the governor proposed $225.8 million in General Fund for replacing lead service lines and providing technical assistance to communities, but the House reduced that amount to $110 million, supplemented by $100 million in federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund dollars.

Also from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, the House EGLE subcommittee recommended new line items for drinking water asset management, drinking water filtration devices in schools and child-care centers and infrastructure improvement projects for drinking water, storm water and wastewater.

By contrast, the Senate Appropriations Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Subcommittee reduced the governor’s original proposal from $1.3 billion to $1.08 billion. The main reductions came from her recommendations for regional renewable energy facilities, groundwater data collection and contaminated site clean-up.

The subcommittee chairs will meet shortly to concur on one version. The budget must be finalized before the end of June, though legislators can finish earlier.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Senate Democrats introduce renewable power bills

Michigan utilities would have to produce 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources under legislation introduced in Lansing this week.

To achieve this, the seven-bill package, Senate Bills 271-277, would also eliminate coal-fired electricity-generating plants by 2030. Sens. Sam Singh (D-Ingham) and Sue Shink (D-Washtenaw) are leading the efforts to eradicate all greenhouse gas emissions from power generation as part of the Clean Energy Future Plan.

The bills also make the Michigan Public Service Commission will be responsible for evaluating the utility’s integrated resources plan. Their plans must demonstrate progress toward phasing out greenhouse gases, eliminating adverse effects on human health and reducing harm to the health, safety, and welfare of communities subject to environmental injustice.

Other provisions in the package include:

  • reducing carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 25 percent by 2035;
  • creating a Michigan Construction Decarbonization Strategic Plan to reduce emissions from heating homes and businesses by 17 percent by 2030; and
  • allowing farmers in the state’s PA 116 program to preserve farmland to rent their properties for solar operations and stay in the preservation program.

While this may appear a massive undertaking, Consumers Energy already has announced a plan to eliminate coal in its operations by 2025.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment. MAC has not taken a position on the legislation.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Bill would restore local control over plastic bag regulations

Local control over the retail use of plastic bags would be restored under a bill introduced in March.

Senate Bill 228, by Sen. Sue Shink (D-Washtenaw), would allow local governments to determine whether to allow plastic bags in their communities. The legislation stems from concerns over the impact plastic bags can have on our environment, as they tend to end up as litter or non-recycled waste. SB 228 will grant locals the authority to weigh the environmental impacts and regulate their use as they see fit.

Banning plastic bags outright is not the only option permitted in this bill; locals could impose a fee or tax for using them.

SB 228 would reverse the state restrictions on local action adopted in Public Act PA 389 of 2016 signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Several states currently allow municipalities to regulate bag use, and major cities such as Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles have plastic bag bans on the books. Eight states have statewide bans: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

The bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment. MAC has not yet taken a position on this legislation.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

State offers grants for town halls on mental health, substance use issues

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about substance use and mental health conditions have grown.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ (MDHHS) Substance Use, Gambling and Epidemiology Section (SUGE) is seeking applications from organizations to conduct Community Town Hall meetings that:

  • Address the impact of this public health crisis on populations, especially disparate or underserved populations.
  • Help raise awareness about coping with COVID-19 by sharing informational materials based on the latest research.
  • Determine community concerns and disseminate relevant resources to address priority areas: underage drinking, marijuana, prescription drugs/opioids, tobacco and mental health.

Apply now to conduct a Community Town Hall Event!                                                        

The Community Town Hall must occur on or before Aug. 31, 2023.

  • Applications will be accepted through May 31, 2023, on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Limited to 75 organizations.
  • $1,500 per Community Town Hall. You will be reimbursed for actual costs up to $1,500 through a contract with our training logistics contractor: Community Mental Health Association of Michigan (CMHAM).
  • MDHHS has the ability to deny an organization’s application.

Funding can be used for expenses such as:

  • Speakers
  • Panel discussions
  • Venues
  • Evaluation efforts
  • Technology (if applicable)

Funding cannot be used for:

  • Promotional items, including but not limited to clothing, commemorative items such as pens, mugs/cups, folders/folios, lanyards, and conference bags.
  • Direct payments to individuals to participate in prevention services. Note: Prevention provider may provide up to $30 non-cash incentive to participate in data collection follow-up.
  • Meals are generally unallowable.

Community Needs Assessment resources for your reference:

If there are any questions or if you are experiencing technical issues with the application, please contact Lisa Coleman at ColemanL7@michigan.gov and Jamie Meister at MeisterJ1@michigan.gov.

 

Capital assets are focus of April 24 Treasury webinar

The Michigan Department of Treasury and Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension) are hosting the next Fiscally Ready Communities training opportunity on April 24. This FREE training is a 90-minute webinar that’s designed to assist appointed and elected officials.

Capital Asset Management and Planning

Recurring annual expenses are simple to budget, but repair and replacement of big-ticket items can be much more difficult. A Capital Improvement Program (CIP) will help your local government organize those major projects and forecast the expenses to make long-term planning simpler. This session will cover the basics of a CIP, best practices, and give participants a chance to share techniques that have worked for their community, as well as policies, procedures, and accounting for capital asset management and plan.

The webinar runs on Monday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (EST).

Register now.

For more information about Fiscally Ready Communities, please check out the Treasury Fiscally Ready Communities webpage. This webpage includes Treasury’s 32-page Fiscally Ready Communities Best Practices document, which we encourage all local officials to review.

If you have any questions, email TreasLocalGov@michigan.gov with the subject line “Fiscally Ready.”

 

State budget director added as conference keynoter

Harkins

Chris Harkins, director of the Michigan State Budget Office, will deliver a keynote address on Tuesday, April 25 at the 2023 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

Harkins is expected to give an overview of the Michigan budget situation for fiscal year 2024, respond to a variety of topics posed by MAC staff and take questions from the conference audience.

To learn more about Harkins and all of the conference speakers, click here.

Registration continues for the three-day conference, but members are urged to act quickly, as online registration winds down on April 19. (On-site registration from April 24-26 will be available.)

Other sessions and events not to miss at this year’s conference include:

  • A discussion with the Legislative Leadership led by MAC’s director of governmental affairs, Deena Bosworth
  • “A National Perspective on the County Landscape and Priorities” by Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties
  • A MAC Legislative Update from MAC’s Governmental Affairs staff
  • A State of MAC report from MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie
  • Remarks from MAC President Stan Ponstein of Kent County
  • A Legislative Reception on the evening of Tuesday, April 25, during which MAC will present its County Advocate Awards for legislative service in 2022.

HOTEL UPDATE: The main conference hotel is now SOLD OUT. If you still need a room, we recommend contacting the Marriott Courtyard in downtown Lansing (approximately 2 blocks from the Lansing Center) at 517-367-6677.

Click here to register.
See conference agenda.

For additional details on hotel rooms, registration pricing, parking and more, visit the conference page on MAC’s website.

 

MAC-led coalition helps delay changes on mineral brine rules

New, stricter rules on acquiring and using mineral brine on roadways were delayed by the state after a group of legislators and stakeholders, including MAC, convinced the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to further study the matter.

In February, EGLE announced it would enforce new rules on brine on April 1. Mineral brine is a product used by road agencies to suppress dust on dirt roads and control ice. However, EGLE did not consult industry experts or provide evidence to support these added restrictions.

The County Road Association (CRA) held an emergency meeting in March with their members, MAC and the Michigan Township Association (MTA) to discuss the impact of these changes and the lack of transparency by EGLE. Dozens of county road commissioners expressed how vital mineral brine is for dust control, and how limiting its use could have devastating effects on rural communities and the health of residents in those areas.

The group also discussed mineral brine’s ability to mitigate ice during winter months. As many of you know, the freeze/thaw cycle leads to cracks in our roads. Limiting the use of mineral brine for ice control would cause our roads to deteriorate even further.

With this input, CRA, MTA and MAC urged EGLE to hold off. Additionally, last week, a group of 29 state representatives published a letter urging EGLE to work with industry experts before making any changes to brine rules. While EGLE has expressed a willingness to meet with the stakeholder group in the coming weeks, it still intends to make changes of some kind to the rules. MAC will continue to engage on this issue and will inform you of any updates down the road (pun intended).

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

NACo issues update about ARPA rules and reporting

“Earlier this week, Treasury released updated FAQs that outline how the termination of the COVID-19 National Emergency affects the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds eligible uses,” the National Association of Counties (NACo) advised MAC and other county associations.

“Generally, counties will be able to continue investing ARPA funds as they currently are, there is one key difference as it relates to premium pay for essential workers. Key highlights of the FAQ include:

  • Premium pay for essential workers: Treasury’s Final Rule states that counties can use ARPA dollars to provide premium pay to eligible workers performing essential worker during the COVID-19 public health emergency, which is only eligible when there is an active Public Health Emergency (PHE). Therefore, counties MAY NOT USE ARPA funds to provide premium pay to essential workers for work conducted AFTER the end of the National Emergency (ended on April 10, 2023). Counties may continue to use ARPA funds to provide premium pay to essential workers for work conducted BEFORE the termination of the National Emergency.
    • Outside of premium pay, counties can continue to use ARPA funds to support workers through the public health and negative economic impacts eligible use category.

“The other eligible use categories are not affected by the termination of the National Emergency. Key highlights of the FAQ for the other categories include:

  • Public health and negative economic impacts: Counties may continue to use funds to respond to public health and negative economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not affected by the termination of the National Emergency. Counties may continue to invest funds as they have been since they certified.
  • Revenue loss: The end of the National Emergency does not impact how counties calculate revenue loss according to the formula articulated in the final rule.  The end of the National Emergency also does not have an impact on how recipients claim up to $10 million in revenue loss under the standard allowance.
  • Water, sewer and broadband infrastructure: The end of the National Emergency does not have an impact on how counties may use ARPA funds under the water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure eligible use category.

“On a related note, please make sure your members are aware of the upcoming Project and Expenditure (P&E) Report April 30, 2023 deadlineall counties are required to submit a report. NACo is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, April 19 at 4 p.m. ET to review steps for how to submit a P&E Report and highlight new reporting requirements. To register for the webinar, click here.”

 

Litigation, legislative inaction put trial court funding in jeopardy

In a special episode of Podcast 83 released this week, MAC details the long-simmering crisis in trial court funding that soon may come to a boil in Lansing.

Samantha Gibson, MAC’s legislative point person on court issues, reviews the crisis with Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie and Deena Bosworth, MAC’s director of governmental affairs.

In this episode:

  • Gibson provides an overview on the court funding dilemma: how we got here, next steps and current litigation
  • Plans are detailed for implementing the 2019 Trial Court Funding Commission’s recommendations via legislative action in Lansing
  • Learn more about Plan B: Emergency funding of $46 million to keep courts operating if the Michigan Supreme Court rules in People v. Johnson before the Legislature acts on funding recommendations

See the full video session, originally recorded on April 10, 2023.

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

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

 

State wants public input on infrastructure goals

Got an opinion on Michigan’s roads? The Michigan Infrastructure Council (MIC) is seeking input from Michigan residents on the status of our state’s infrastructure.

MIC is currently developing a 30-year Integrated Infrastructure Strategy to “build a comprehensive, integrated asset management approach to help the state, regions, local governments, and asset owners make informed strategic decisions and wise investments in infrastructure which will serve as a foundation for the future.”

In order to do so, MIC is conducting a survey about Michigan’s roads, broadband infrastructure, stormwater systems, utilities, etc. They are asking the public to weigh in so they can develop their priorities moving forward.

Please consider taking the survey and sharing it with members of your community.

For more information on MAC’s infrastructure policies, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
MAC discusses legislative strategy with other county groups

MAC President Stan Ponstein, Executive Director Stephan Currie and the association’s advocacy team met with representatives of countywide elected officials on April 10 to discuss looming issues and legislative strategies for 2023. These “County Summits” are a regular part of MAC’s schedule to coordinate legislative information and strategy.

 

House committee holds hearing on criminal justice reform bill

Legislation backed by MAC to advance reforms to criminal justice law received a hearing this week before the House Criminal Justice Committee.

House Bill 4173, by Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Wayne), would create the Criminal Justice Policy Commission in the Legislative Council. The commission would be tasked with analyzing corrections-related data and developing modifications to sentencing guidelines.

The commission would have 16 members, one of whom would be appointed by MAC to represent counties. The governor would appoint the following members before June 1, 2023: one circuit court judge, one district court judge, one individual representing prosecuting attorneys, one individual representing criminal defense attorneys, one individual representing the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association; one individual representing the Michigan Department of Corrections; one previously incarcerated individual; two criminologists; one individual representing community corrections agencies; and the MAC nominee. All members appointed by the governor will be provided via recommendation from their respective associations.

Commission members would serve for four years, aside from the initial members, who would serve terms of staggered years. The commission is also required to conduct business in accordance with the state’s Open Meetings Act.

MAC supports HB 4173 and partnership with the state and law enforcement agencies to advance criminal justice reform.

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

 

2 bill packages could boost or stabilize county revenue

Two bill packages were introduced in Lansing in late March that could serve to stabilize revenues for counties and create more predictability in revenues. 

The first package, Senate Bills 229 and 230, by Sen. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Macomb) creates a “Revenue Sharing Trust Fund,” which is a big priority for MAC this year.

With this trust fund, the legislation would require a percentage of the state sales tax be deposited into the fund and prescribe an equitable distribution from of half to counties and half to cities, villages and townships (CVTs).

If enacted, counties could see an increase of at least 43 percent on their current revenue sharing in the first year alone. Additional increases would be based on the growth of the state’s sales tax.

The bills, developed by MAC in consultation with Sen. Klinefelt and others, have been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance, Insurance and Consumer Protection.

The second package creates an optional structure for the taxes levied on solar facilities in Michigan.

House Bills 4317 and 4318, by Reps. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason) and Cynthia Neeley (D-Genesee) respectively, would allow for the creation of solar energy districts by local municipalities after a mandatory public hearing. Subsequently, solar energy developers could apply for an exemption from local property taxes and instead pay a flat rate of $7,000 per megawatt of nameplate capacity for the proposed solar energy facility, instead of ad valorem property taxes. The payment would be locked in for 20 years and distributed based on the proportions of normal taxes that would have been paid to each taxing unit. 

An additional financial incentive would be offered for developers that choose to site their facilities on brownfield properties, in opportunity zones, as a secondary use on already improved real property (i.e., roof tops) or on state-owned property. In such cases, the reimbursement rate would be $2,000 per megawatt of nameplate capacity. 

The impetus behind the legislation is twofold. First, this methodology for compensating locals for lost taxes will provide financial predictability for the developers and the locals, hopefully avoiding the same problems we have had with the challenges to the evaluation of wind turbines. Second, the rate and process should serve as incentives for developers to build more renewable energy facilities.  

The bills have been referred to the House Tax Policy Committee. After years of participation on workgroups to ensure local options, a stable funding source, appropriate zoning considerations and adequate local reimbursements, MAC has taken a neutral position on HBs 4317-18.

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

 

Legislative leadership panel will highlight conference’s third day

Leaders from the majority and minority parties in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature will join MAC for a discussion on their priorities and what has changed in Lansing since Democrats gained the majority in the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years. They also will be asked for their views on a variety of county priorities in 2023. The discussion will be moderated by Deena Bosworth, MAC’s director of governmental affairs.

The panel will include:

  • House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Wayne
  • House Minority Floor Leader Bryan Posthumus, R-Kent
  • Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, D-Kent
  • Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Cass

This special session will run from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26.

Other sessions and events not to miss at this year’s conference include:

  • “A National Perspective on the County Landscape and Priorities” by Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties
  • A MAC Legislative Update from MAC’s Governmental Affairs staff
  • A State of MAC report from MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie
  • Remarks from MAC President Stan Ponstein of Kent County
  • An “Opioids Help Desk” where MAC’s Amy Dolinky will answers questions on opioid settlement fund planning
  • A Legislative Reception on the evening of Tuesday, April 25, during which MAC will present its County Advocate Awards for legislative service in 2022.

HOTEL UPDATE: The main conference hotel is now SOLD OUT. If you still need a room, we recommend contacting the Marriott Courtyard in downtown Lansing (approximately 2 blocks from the Lansing Center) at 517-367-6677.

Click here to register.
See conference agenda.

For additional details on registration pricing, parking and more, visit the conference page on MAC’s website.

 

Calling for transparency on opioid settlement investments

Last week, following the release of the Michigan Opioid Advisory Commission’s inaugural report calling for increased transparency of state spending, Kaiser Health News (KHN) reported on a need for transparency among state and local governments around opioid settlement funds.

The story was followed up by a Twitter feed outlining core issues and a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) more detailed spend plan that has not been made publicly available before. The KHN reporter, Aneri Pattani, outlines how challenging it was to obtain this information. The spend plan that KHN was able to obtain differs from the spend plan released to the public by MDHHS on Feb. 10, even though both plans are share the same date.

National guidance from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health outlines five core principles for use of opioid settlement funds. Principle 5 specifies the need for community engagement and transparency in the planning and investment process. The KHN article also links to an interactive map, created by Christine Minhee, founder of OpioidSettlementTracker.com, showing the percentage of funds states have promised to publicly report on, outlining that the state of Michigan has no current plans to report on use of settlement funds.

County leaders should ensure community engagement in their settlement planning and consider ways in which transparency can be provided throughout all steps of the process. Consideration should be given to the different types of publicly available information that can be provided, from open meetings, public meeting minutes, listening sessions, town hall meetings all the way to annual reporting on expenditures and activities.

For assistance on anything related to opioid settlement planning, please contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

U.S. Treasury portal now open; P&E reports due by April 30

“All counties must submit an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund) Project and Expenditure (P&E) Report to the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) by April 30, 2023,” the National Association of Counties reminded in a post this week. “These required, periodic reports provide Treasury with financial and current performance information on projects using Recovery Funds. To help counties navigate the reporting process, the Treasury has released several resources that answer many of counties’ most common questions. 

“The Project and Expenditure Report User Guide takes counties step-by-step through the reporting portal and gives more details on what information Treasury wants for some programmatic questions. The guide includes screenshots of the Treasury Portal, showing counties what questions they can expect to answer for each project. This document is a supplement to Treasury’s compliance and reporting guidance.

“For the April P&E Reports, Treasury announced new information that counties are required to submit: These updates apply to all counties unless a county allocated its entire ARPA allocation towards the $10 million revenue loss standard allowance.

“Please note that there is new information that is required for these April P&E Reports. Counties are now required to include the following information (these requirements DO NOT apply to expenditures that are paid for using lost revenue – EC 6.1):

  1. Unique Entity ID Requirements for Subrecipients and Contractors: All subrecipients and contractors are required to have a Unique Entity ID (UEI) and have that number included as part of the reporting process. The UEI is the replacement for the previously used DUNS numbers, and they are issued by SAM.gov. While this requirement is not new, starting in April 2023’s P&E Report the report form will now return an error when no valid UEI is provided when creating new Subrecipient or Contractor entities. This was previously not explicitly required, but strongly urged by Treasury.
     
    1. Treasury has stated that for the April 2023 P&E reporting form, if a pre-existing subrecipient or contractor record does not have a UEI, the system will simply flag it as a warning but not prevent them from submission of the entire P&E report.
    2. However, ANY NEW subrecipient or contractor records will be required to have their UEIs provided and they cannot create those entities without one.
    3. Treasury has stated they DO NOT KNOW how long they will be able to keep this flexibility available after April 2023 so counties should get their UEIs together ASAP.
  1. New Subaward/Direct Payments Entity Type: All Subawards/Direct Payments records will be required to have an “entity type” selected before a subaward can be created. This field will capture whether the entity receiving the award or payment is a Subrecipient, Contractor, or Beneficiary. If a county attempts to create a new subaward for a subrecipient without a populated entity type field will result in an error. 

For more information, please see Treasury’s Recipient Compliance and Reporting Guidance page.

 

Apply by May 30 for federal grants on EV charging infrastructure

Applications are due by May 30 for a new federal grant program dedicated to electric vehicle charging and alternative-fueling infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has allocated $2.5 billion for the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program. Counties will be eligible as long as the planned infrastructure is publicly accessible along designated highways, interstates and major roadways.

In February, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed an unprecedented investment in electric vehicles during her budget presentation. Her recommendations included $45 million for local governments to convert their fleets to EVs, $65 million for charging infrastructure both commercially and at-home, $48.8 million to temporarily suspend the sales tax on electric vehicles and $150 million for electric school buses.

As electric vehicles grow in popularity, communities will need to invest in charging infrastructure to accommodate drivers. This grant program is a great opportunity to utilize federal dollars for this essential equipment. Please review the USDOT notice of funding to learn more.

For more information on MAC’s infrastructure efforts, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

NACo extends deadline to apply for Achievement Awards

The deadline for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards applications  has been extended to Friday, April 14 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

By participating, your county can earn local and national recognition for your county’s groundbreaking efforts and share ideas with your peers across the country. Achievement Award winners have been featured in local media and in County News. Additionally, NACo often spotlights award-winning programs in congressional testimony and hearings, White House and federal agency briefings, publications, and other county storytelling.

This year, counties will receive recognition in 18 categories covering a wide spectrum of county responsibilities. All winners receive an award certificate and customizable press releases. The 18 “best of category” winners will receive special recognition at the 2023 NACo Annual Conference.

Click here to apply.

 

Staff picks

  • CoPro Web Ad 2018
  • Enbridge Banner Ad 2018
  • NACo Live Healthy Ad 960x200px
  • Nationwide Ad For Mac Site
  • MMRMA Ad 2023
  • Gallagher Banner Ad 2023