State reviewing $26 billion settlement offer on opioids

A bipartisan group of state attorneys general revealed a $26 billion national settlement this week with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three companies that distributed opioid painkillers. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Michigan could see up to $800 million of the grand total. Nessel has 30 days to review the documents and decide to sign on to the settlement. After that, local units of government will have 150 days to do the same.

Details released at this point are as follows:

Funding overview

  • The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.  
  • Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.   
  • The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.  
  • The substantial majority of the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.  
  • Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the population of the state along with the impact of the crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, and the number of opioids prescribed.  

Injunctive relief overview

Requires Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, through court orders, to: 

  • Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.  
  • Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies. 
  • Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators, when they show certain signs of diversion. 
  • Prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders.  
  • Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders. 
  • Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts. 

Requires Johnson & Johnson, through court orders, to:  

  • Stop selling opioids.   
  • Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.  
  • Not lobby on activities related to opioids.  
  • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project. 

While this has been a long-awaited settlement, there is still much in the process to come. MAC will continue to be a resource for counties as needed regarding this matter. Please reach out to Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org with any questions.

 

Wayne’s Bell, Shiawassee’s Webster picked for juvenile justice group

Alisha Bell of Wayne County and Marlene Webster of Shiawassee County were named this week to the state’s Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced.

In June 2021, Whitmer signed Executive Order 2021-6 creating the Task Force on Juvenile Justice, which will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and “will focus on analyzing our juvenile justice system, while recommending proven practices and strategies for reform grounded in data, research, and fundamental constitutional principles.” 

“Reimagining Michigan’s juvenile justice system will take collaboration, innovation, and information,” said Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, who will serve on the panel and who spoke on juvenile justice issues at MAC’s 2021 Legislative Conference. “We will make Michigan a national leader in providing the support children need to stay out of the criminal justice system and on a path to success.” 

Bell, chair of Wayne’s commission and a board member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) has long been active in criminal justice and juvenile justice issues. In recent years, she has advocated for cash bond reform and initiated the Stepping Up resolution which diverts people with mental illness and substance abuse from jails and into treatment.

“I look forward to working with other task force members to find ways to help young people by creating reforms that will help them find better paths to success,” Bell said in a statement.

Bell and Webster, who will represent counties with fewer than 100,000 residents, will serve terms through July 2023.

For more information on MAC’s juvenile justice positions, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Podcast 83 discusses community-building with foundation leaders

MAC’s Podcast 83 team is taking a summer hiatus from live broadcasts. In the latest of a series of newsmaker interviews for the summer, Podcast 83 hosted Kyle Caldwell of the Council of Michigan Foundations and Diana Sieger of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

MAC’s Steve Currie talked with them about foundation-county opportunities with American Rescue Plan funds.

Click here to view the episode.

Members can view any previous episode of the podcast on the podcast webpage.

 

Regional Summits held in Grand Rapids, Frankenmuth

MAC’s Deena Bosworth discusses legislative issues with attendees at the July 22 summit in Frankenmuth.

About 60 county leaders gathered in two locations this week as MAC resumed in-person events with its 2021 Regional Summit series.

The summits are one-day events designed to give commissioners and others a quick look at key public policy topics. This week’s sessions, in Grand Rapids and Frankenmuth, for example, focused heavily on the effects of COVID-19, both in how counties can best utilize federal aid and protect their work forces as the virus still rages.

“It was good to be able to gather county leaders again, since an important part of these sessions is the opportunity for commissioners from different counties to share concerns and tips with each other,” said Executive Director Stephan Currie.

The 2021 summit series wraps up next week with sessions in Escanaba (July 26) and Gaylord (July 29). You can still register for the July 29 session by sending an email to conference@micounties.org.

Once the summits are complete, presentation slides will be posted to MAC’s website and shared with members.

 

Legislature uses referendum to repeal 1945 law on emergency powers

Acting on a referendum petition from the group Unlock Michigan, the Republican-led Legislature this week completed the repeal of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, the law Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used extensively in 2020 to issue emergency orders on COVID-19.

The Michigan Supreme Court had previously declared the act unconstitutional.

Under Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution, residents can move a referendum petition on an act of the Legislature. The Legislature then has 40 days to act on the petition or the matter goes to the voters. The Senate supported petition’s call for repeal on a party line 20-15 vote, while the House approved it 60-48, with four Democrats voting with Republican majority. Under the referendum process, the governor cannot veto these actions. The House voted for the repeal to take effect immediately, however the Senate did not, so the official repeal of the act will occur 90 days after the Legislature formally adjourns during the current legislative session.

 

Staff picks

Legislature leaves unsettled FY22 budget as summer begins

The Michigan House and Senate came together on a small piece of the budget this week — unfortunately not one that includes revenue sharing payments for counties or an additional $110 million for nursing facilities. All that the Senate and House could agree on prior to a July 1 deadline for delivering an FY22 state budget, was a bipartisan deal to close per pupil foundational allowance gap so each school will see a $8,700 per pupil base amount.

That leaves the bulk of the FY22 budget bills for all state departments and agencies, higher education and community colleges still to come. Still to be addressed are billions in federal coronavirus relief dollars for the current and upcoming fiscal years, as legislators head back to their districts, with only a handful of legislative session days scheduled between now and Labor Day.

The School Aid Fund budget cleared the Senate 33-1 and the House 106-3. The governor commended the Legislature on this action.

Due to the delay on the rest of the budget agreements, the Legislature formally missed the new statutory deadline to present a budget to the governor on or before that date; however, there is no real penalty in the statute for missing it. That means the traditional deadline is in play, which is on the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) told the Gongwer News Service that work to complete the new fiscal year budget will likely take until late summer and he plans on the Senate returning to the Capitol in August.

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

 

Registration is now open for 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) and Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC) are pleased to welcome attendees back to in-person events for the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference held on Mackinac Island from Sept. 26-28. The event will provide attendees with trending policy briefings, networking with colleagues and specialized breakouts designed for MCMCFC members to earn Continuing Education credits.

The Annual Conference will feature:

  • Three plenary sessions with state newsmakers and reports on MAC activities (speakers will be announced soon)
  • 12 breakout sessions for MAC members and 4 workshops for MCMCFC members
  • A Welcome Reception on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 26, sponsored by CoProPlus
  • A lavish President’s Banquet on the night of Monday, Sept. 27
  • Plenty of free time in the afternoons for attendees to enjoy Mackinac Island or just relax

To begin your registration, for more details on events and for updates on conference speakers and presentations, please visit the event page on MAC’s website.

If you register by Aug. 18, the member rate for the entire conference is just $375. The member rate is open to all county commissioners, administrators, countywide elected officials and county employees of MAC member counties, plus employees and board members of MCMCFC facilities.

MAC and MCMCFC also secured highly competitive room rates that begin at $205 per person for double occupancy. All room reservations must be made via Grand Hotel’s digital portal found on this page. The room block deadline is Aug. 26.

 

UP legislator files MAC-backed bills for local tourism tax

Two bills were introduced this week to help local communities deal with providing increased public safety measures specific to exponential increases in tourism. Several regions across the state, not just Northern Michigan, are draining their taxpayer public safety funds to take care of large increases in tourism in their areas that require increased police road patrols, search and rescue missions, patrolling of municipal campgrounds, etc.

House Bills 5172-73, by Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette), allows all 83 Michigan counties to put a local excise tax on a ballot for voter approval of a 3 percent local excise tax on transient housing, the proceeds of which can only be used for increased funding for public safety. Transient housing will include hotels, motels and short-term rentals. 

Hotels in the Upper Peninsula are currently being taxed 11 percent, with 5 percent going to the state, 5 percent going to local convention and visitor bureaus, 1 percent going to the UP-wide Convention and Visitor Bureau Fund and nothing going to local communities to help manage tourists.

This issue is one of MAC’s legislative priorities this year. We are working to engage our members and legislators for support. Many counties in Michigan are draining their taxpayer public safety funds because of large increases in tourism to ensure both residents and tourists are safe. Michigan does not allow a local taxing authority, as is found in many other states, so it is necessary for the Legislature to allow Michigan counties to tax transient housing in their communities.

MAC asks counties to add their voices to this effort by passing resolutions of support. Please see a sample resolution here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

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

 

June edition of Michigan Counties now in the mail

County commissioners across the state should know be receiving the June edition of MAC’s bimonthly magazine, Michigan Counties. This edition focuses on federal American Rescue Plan funds and the ongoing threats to county property tax revenues.

Also in the June edition, learn about the considerable resources available to counties for cybersecurity and how Midland County is using map technology to help honor its military veterans.

For those who do not receive a complimentary magazine in the mail, you may enjoy the digital version at this link.

If you are a county commissioner and not receiving Michigan Counties in the mail, contact Derek Melot at melot@micounties.org.

 

Infrastructure is focus of Podcast 83 interview

In the first of a special series of interview episodes for the summer, Podcast 83 welcomes Jessica Jennings of the National Association of Counties to discuss infrastructure spending and federal aid.

The taped episode, released June 28, is available for on-demand viewing at this link.

Jessica Jennings serves as associate legislative director for transportation and infrastructure. In this role, Jessica staffs NACo’s Transportation Policy Steering Committee and works with county officials from across the nation to set organizational priorities and policies for transportation and infrastructure issues that affect local governments.

Next up in the Podcast 83 interview series is Eric Lupher, president of the nonprofit Citizens Research Council of Michigan. His discussion with MAC Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth will be released on July 12.

All video episodes of Podcast 83 in 2021 are now available on MAC’s YouTube channel for on-demand viewing.

 

MAC offices to close for holiday; Legislative Update will skip July 9

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Monday, July 5 to observe the Independence Day holiday. Normal office hours will resume at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6.

Also, MAC’s weekly Legislative Update email will not be published on July 9. It will resume its weekly schedule on July 16.

 

House passes huge budget bill with revenue sharing, indigent defense dollars

The House worked late into Thursday evening this week to move bipartisan budget bills, in hopes the Senate approves them to meet the Legislature’s statutory July 1 deadline to send a state budget to the governor.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressed support for the House actions, which include “the governor’s proposal to make the largest investment in K-12 public schools in our state’s history to close the gap between the lowest- and highest-funded school districts for the first time since the goal was introduced in 1994.”

House Bill 4410 largely maintains baseline spending from the current fiscal year (2021) for the next one (2022), with a few new investments. If the Senate does concur with the House approach, the state would still retain $3.1 billion in its General Fund, $880 million in the School Aid Fund and the first half of the $6.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

The bill includes a 2 percent increase (1% as ongoing and 1% as one-time) for county revenue sharing. MAC had asked legislators to end the County Incentive Program, which forces counties to do unnecessary paperwork to get their full revenue sharing allotment each year, but those requirements would remain in place under HB 4410.

An increase of $29.1 million is designated for the first year of phased-in funding of the Raise the Age program that moves 17-year-old offenders into the juvenile justice system. A nd Michigan Indigent Defense Grants would be fully funded, as the House agreed with the governor’s recommendation for about $149 million in General Fund spending for them.

Other items of note include:

  • $26.5 million to establish 14 integrated behavioral and physical health clinics
  • $51.4 million for Essential Local Public Health Services
  • $13 million for Secondary Road Patrol (plus an additional $2.7 million from an FY21 supplemental budget bill)
  • $13 million for Community Corrections plans and services
  • $4 million for the County Veteran Service Fund

Not making it through the House, however, was a spend of $5 million of the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds to reimburse county jails for housing offenders at county jails who otherwise would have been held in state prisons.

For a full breakdown of the House plan, click here. The Michigan Senate’s next schedule session is on Wednesday, June 30.

For more information on state budget matters, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Annual Conference registration will open June 30

County leaders can begin registering for the 2021 Michigan Counties Annual Conference, set for Sept. 26-28 on Mackinac Island, on June 30.

The 2021 gathering will be the first in-person MAC/MCMCFC conference since the 2019 Annual Conference and will be held at the renowned Grand Hotel.

MAC’s conference services team will be sending out email alerts next week with links and information on how to register for the conference, which will include:

  • Three plenary sessions headlined by state newsmakers
  • 12 breakout sessions for MAC members and four workshop for MCMCFC members
  • The annual President’s Banquet
  • The annual MAC Business Meeting and board elections

The early-bird registration rate for members will be $375 for the conference. And MAC and MCMCFC have secured a room block at the Grand with discounted room rates. Members are encouraged to act swiftly on hotel rooms, as we expect them to go quickly.

 

COVID restrictions continue to fall as vaccinations slow

With COVID case trends continuing to decline, state entities are lifting more of the restrictions and regulations adopted to address the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer concurred in changes to workplace rules set by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) to lift almost all of the requirements affecting office environments. This follows the lifting of broad health orders by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

While caseloads have fallen quickly, the pace of vaccination has slowed. As of Thursday, 61.3 percent of the state population age 16 and up had received at least one COVID vaccine dose, still far below the 70 percent target thought necessary to disrupt community transmission of the virus.

For the latest information on COVID response affecting counties, visit MAC’s Resources Page.

 

Improvements to County Veteran Service Fund enacted

A MAC-supported revamp of the handling aid to Michigan veterans was signed into law this week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

House Bill 4122, by Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland), improves the functions of the County Veteran Service Fund.

“This was a change that became necessary because of challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new law will also improve services for our military heroes moving forward,” said Glenn.

Among the MAC-supported changes in the bill are:

  • Allowing grant funds to be expended for direct financial assistance for an emergent relief program (as counties continue to navigate through COVID-19 response, ensuring proper care and resources for our veteran community will remain a priority)
  • A 60-day window for the MVAA to distribute the grant, once approved by the county
  • A limited reduction in the county maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement to support hard-pressed counties (counties are not able to reduce the funding and supplant the reduction)
  • An exemption for the 20 hours per week staffing requirement, if approved by MVAA 
  • A process for distribution if the state does not award enough for each county’s base amount (this is not expected, but will act as a protection in uncertain times dominated by COVID-19)

“Since the creation of the County Veteran Service Fund, it has helped Michigan counties support the more than 600,000 veterans and their families across our state,” said Meghann Keit-Corrion of MAC. “The latest changes signed into law by the governor will expand on the successes of the program. MAC and its members look forward to the continuing partnership with the state, via MVAA, to help those who have served their communities and our nation.”

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

 

Expansion of binding arbitration clears Michigan House

Legislation opposed by MAC to expand binding arbitration in labor disputes with corrections officers passed the House of Representatives this week, 97- 10.

House Bill 4639 and House Bill 4725, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland) and Rep. Robert Bezotte (R-Livingston), would expand the benefits of Public Act 312 beyond the police and fire labor bargaining units to corrections officers. 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 testified in opposition to the bills, which now move to the Senate for consideration. Any action in the Senate is not expected until fall.

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

 

‘Sanctuary’ bill is encroachment on county authority

A bill that prohibits a county from enacting or enforcing any law, ordinance, rule or policy that prevents an individual from cooperating with federal officials regarding the immigration status of another person passed out of the Military, Veterans, and Homeland Security Committee this week. The legislation now moves to the House floor.

House Bill 4539, by Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Dickinson), allows an individual to bring action against a county by filing a complaint with the attorney general or circuit court if the county is not in compliance with the act within 60 days after the bill becomes law. Further, if the county is proven to be in violation of the act, the bill requires the court to issue an injunction restraining the county from enforcing their law, ordinance, rule or policy and order the county to repeal it and to award damages, costs and attorney fees to the complainant.

MAC remains opposed to the legislation. The bill seeks to micromanage county government operations and employment structures. Rules and policies implemented by county-wide elected officials are not within the control of the county boards of commissioners and may exist to ensure only qualified county employees are communicating with federal officials.

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

 

MCMCFC urges passage of bills on nursing shortages

The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC) testified in support of legislation to address workforce shortages in nursing centers before the House Health Policy Committee this week.

MCMCFC Executive Director Renee Beniak spoke in favor of House Bills 4316, by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Shiawassee), and 5089, by Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Livingston).

HB 4316 would create a training program and permitting of medication aides through the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Practice as a medication aide would not include the practice of nursing and would not include administering controlled substances, administering medications in injectable forms, the initial administration of medications, or the administration of “as needed” medications.

A similar bill passed the Legislature last year but was pocket-vetoed by the governor.

Rep. Frederick said he would amend HB 4316 to include a “sunset,” or a set date in time when the law would expire unless further legislative action was taken, to help ensure the measure was working as expected.

HB 5089 would allow an applicant to be registered as a nurse aide with modified requirements during a declared COVID-19 public health emergency and for a four-month grace period after the end of the declared emergency. The bill also would ensure the on-the-job training as a temporary nurse aide would meet the training requirements to receive a nurse aide registration.

A full video of the committee hearing can be found here (testimony on these bills begins at the 55-minute mark).

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

 

House backs another revamp to Court of Claims

Legislation to restore the operations of the Michigan Court of Claims to its historical practices cleared the House of Representatives this week with large, bipartisan majorities.

House Bills 4222, by Rep. Graham Filler (R-Clinton), and 4223, by Rep. David LaGrand (D-Kent), would again have circuit court judges serve as Court of Claims judges and review lawsuits filed against the state. The Michigan Supreme Court would assign the judges.

The legislation would reverse a 2013 law that required such cases be filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals. In making assignments, the Michigan Supreme Court would have to ensure that all of the following are met:

  • One judge of the circuit court in each of the four court of appeals districts is assigned to sit as a judge of the court of claims.
  • At least one judge of the circuit court from a county with a population of less than 60,000 is assigned to sit as a judge of the court of claims.
  • Not more than two of the judges of the circuit court assigned to sit as judges of the court of claims are from counties that have populations of more than 500,000.

Under the amended bills, counties where a judge is assigned would get a 60-day notice before the judge’s term to the Court of Claims begins. HB 4223 specifies the state must reimburse counties, on a quarterly basis, for any reasonable and actual cost incurred by implementing these jurisdictional duties in the circuit court. This was the same process that occurred when Ingham County was the sole jurisdiction for the Court of Claims.

MAC is neutral on these bills.

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

 

‘Fiscally Ready’ webinars resume on June 29

The Michigan Department of Treasury and Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension) are excited to announce our next four “Fiscally Ready Communities” training opportunities. Each FREE training is 90-minute webinar designed to assist appointed and elected officials with entry and intermediate budgeting knowledge.

Capital Asset Management and Planning Trainings

This session will cover the basics of a Capital Improvement Program (CIP), best practices, and give participants a chance to share techniques that have worked for their community. Additionally, the training will assist both elected and appointed local officials in outlining your policies and procedures for capital asset management and planning. This will ensure that their local government is being proactive, while discussing the interconnectivity of many local government requirements.

These trainings will take place on:

  • June 29 at 10 a.m.
  • July 28 at 2 p.m.
  • Dec. 9 at 6 p.m.

All three sessions will have the same content, you may register via the Capital Asset Management and Planning Event Registration page.

Budgeting for Fiscal Sustainability

This training will provide best practices for local governments’ fiscal health including budgeting, long-term planning, dealing with uncertainty and financial policies and procedures.

This training will take place on Aug. 25 at 10 a.m.

Please register via the Budgeting for Fiscal Sustainability Event Registration page. Note that this webinar carries credit for MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.

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.”

 

ARP revenue calculator released; consulting contracts now available

Counties now can download their own copies of a calculator sheet on revenue losses for purposes of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the National Association of Counties announced this week.

Developed by the Government Finance Officers Association, the calculator can be found here.

MAC also is pleased to announce that four consulting firms, operating under pre-vetted contracts that comply with all requirements of Michigan law, are now available to assist counties that need advice and guidance on spending and tracking ARP payments.

“The vendors chosen through this process are prequalified to assist counties in managing the COVID-19 relief funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” explains MAC’s subsidiary, CoProPlus, which worked with Livingston County on the RFP to identify consulting firms. “The contracts offer a means for counties to receive financial accounting, oversight monitoring, auditing and/or reporting services as required for each individual project.”

During a call this week, NACo staffers reviewed the latest information from the U.S. Treasury on rules, deadlines and details about the use of federal relief funds. They encouraged counties to regularly visit the NACo analysis page on revenue issues.

In other ARP news, local governments can now visit the Michigan Department of Treasury American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) webpage to view information and updates regarding the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.

As always, be sure to check MAC’s COVID Resources Page for the latest developments in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Bill to enforce rules on unfunded mandates gets hearing     

A bill that would impose a legislative procedure to prohibit the enactment of unfunded mandates, a long-held goal of MAC, received a hearing this week in the Senate Committee on Oversight.

Senate Bill 449, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), reinforces the provisions of the Headlee Amendment in the Michigan Constitution by specifying the Legislature shall appropriate sufficient money to pay local units of government for each state requirement imposed upon them pursuant to Section 29 of Article 9 of the Constitution (Headlee). The bill further provides that no unit of local government shall be required to provide a new activity or service or an increase in an existing activity or service unless:

  • There is a fiscal note prepared and published; and
  • The State appropriates sufficient funding based on the fiscal note.

The fiscal note process would require the fiscal agencies to review bills to determine if they contain a change in activity or service required of a local unit of government before a bill is scheduled on third reading in the chamber where it was introduced. Further, such bills would then be reviewed by the fiscal agencies to develop a fiscal note or written estimate of the increased necessary costs. The fiscal agencies would report their findings to the Legislature before the bill could be taken up on third reading.

This may slow down the legislative process, but it would put the Legislature on notice that the bills will impact the finances of local governments. The bill further specifies the state shall not impose a penalty on or withhold funds to a local unit of government that does not comply with a mandate if the fiscal note process has not been followed or if the state has prepared a fiscal note but a taxpayer (including a local unit of government) has filed a lawsuit asserting that the law creates a mandate and the court has not issued an order within six months or has decided in favor of the taxpayer.

The committee only took testimony, and no action is anticipated until fall.

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

 

Public notices legislation remains problem for counties

A two-bill package “modernizing” public notice postings passed out of the Senate Committee on Local Government this week. Senate Bill 258, by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason), and SB 259, by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Wayne), would modify the definition of a newspaper in the law to mean a newspaper in an adjoining jurisdiction, if one is not available in the county posting a notice.

The legislation also would require the posting of the notice on a website hosted by the newspaper.

MAC offered several amendments that were rejected to advance the intent of the legislation, which is to limit the cost of public notices to a government rate; to allow for partial posting of information with a link to more information; and to allow the posting online to count toward the deadline needed to meet notice posting timelines.

MAC will continue to back changes to make this legislation beneficial to counties but does not support the current versions.

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

 

MAC supports bill on transfer of murderers

New legislation clarifying the custody of those convicted of murder in Michigan received the support of MAC this week.

House Bill 4719, by Rep. Robert Bezotte (R-Livingston), would require that a person convicted of first-degree murder be immediately committed to the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) in a state correctional facility, pending sentencing. The county sheriff will have to transport the convicted person for final sentencing from the facility to the county and back again.

Counties would realize a savings for no longer having to detain these offenders while they await sentencing. More importantly, the process in the bill will help ensure safer environments in county jails and for sheriff staffers.

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

 

Calley introduces MAC-backed bill on 9-1-1 funding

Legislation to extend authorization for 9-1-1 operations and funding was introduced this week by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia). Currently, the Emergency 9-1-1 Service Enabling Act expires at the end of this year. House Bill 5026 would extend the authorization until Dec. 31, 2027, plus ensure fee revenues are on target with projected costs of statewide implementation of Next General 911 (NG911). NG911 is an IP-based fiber network that will completely replace the copper-based system.

In order to ensure revenue meets the costs of the network, surcharges are levied on pre- and post-paid phones. Prepaid revenue, however, is 25 percent less than was projected. The bills proposed to increase the pre-paid surcharge from 5 percent to 6.5 percent. Post-paid fees are proposed to increase from 5 cents to 7 cents. Additionally, there is a provision to trigger a fee rollback process if more revenue is generated than needed.

Lastly, the bill would require a review of prepaid providers to ensure proper collection and remittance is occurring.

The bill is before the House Committee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Wexford). MAC supports HB 5026.

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

 

Register now for June 21 live session of Podcast 83

MAC’s Podcast 83 team resumes its weekly live sessions on state and federal policy issues at 3 p.m. on Monday, June 21.

Among issues to be addressed are American Rescue Plan spending and what’s happening on the state budget.

To register for the session, click here.

Links to past episodes can be found on the podcast webpage, while every 2021 video episode is now available on MAC’s YouTube channel.

 

 

Keep up the emails, resolutions on 4-year terms

After gaining broad support and bipartisan passage in the Michigan Senate, legislation to adopt four-year terms for county commissioners awaits initial action in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bills 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), would bring four-year terms for county commissioners to Michigan in the 2024 presidential election cycle.

The bills are in the House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance.

MAC continues to encourage commissioners to add their voices to the four-year term effort. As of Friday morning, 81 county leaders had responded. Please add your voice to this effort today by clicking here.

MAC also requests that counties adopt official resolutions of support for the legislation. To download a template for this purpose, click here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

As of Thursday, 28 counties had advised MAC of passage of such resolutions: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Cheboygan, Clinton, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Huron, Ionia, Isabella, Lenawee, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Oscoda, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

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

 

MAC voices concern on workers’ comp bill

An amended version of House Bill 4822, by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Genesee), passed the House Government Operations Committee on a party-line vote. The bill provides that a first response employee’s illness resulting from contracting COVID-19 is rebuttably presumed to be a personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment under certain circumstances.

The Worker’s Disability Compensation Act provides compensation to employees who are injured on the job and provides that those benefits are the employee’s sole remedy for the injury. MAC joined partners including the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Insurance Alliance of Michigan in voicing concern for the precedent this type of legislation sets for workers’ compensation benefits.

While appreciative of the many changes made by the bill sponsor since the introduced version, collectively: “We believe that workers’ compensation benefit determinations – regardless of occupation – should be made on a case-by-case basis, and not by state or federal mandates.”

Democrats on the committee voted no after failed attempts to remove language that says COVID-19 shall be considered an “ordinary disease of life.”

The bill now awaits further action by the full House.

 

COVID delays NACo flag retirement boxes

A reported COVID outbreak with the partnering vendor has delayed shipment of U.S. flag retirement boxes to Michigan counties that requested them via a new NACo program.

MAC and NACo announced the program at the 2021 Legislative Conference, with the goal of delivering the boxes by early June. Unfortunately, NACo advised this week, the vendor that delivers the boxes had staffing issues, which has caused significant delays.

The box shipments are now set to begin next week.

NACo and MAC apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this has caused counties that are eager to begin their participation this new service.

 

Join thousands of county leaders who have energized their leadership skills

The NACo High Performance Leadership Academy is now being used for succession planning and workforce training by nearly two-thirds of all counties in the U.S. because of its success. The program and its associated results have been described as “Unprecedented!” by county officials, business executives and academics. This is not too surprising based on feedback like this:

“This leadership program is a game changer! It creates in you an appetite to be the best leader you can be. And it leaves you feeling empowered with tools you can implement immediately.” – HR Supervisor

“This program provided me with new tools to enable, motivate and retain employees.  It has helped me better serve my staff and the public.” – Commissioner

Nearly 2,000 county leaders have experienced this program just this year. The next start happens in August. Take advantage of available NACo scholarships and join your peers, colleagues and county leaders in the next NACo High Performance Leadership Academy.

Enroll at www.naco.org/skills.

 

2020 roads report shows 42% in ‘poor’ condition

The trends on Michigan’s roadways continue to be poor, said the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) recently in publishing its 2020 Roads and Bridges Annual Report.

“The 2020 report reveals the on-going challenges of maintaining Michigan’s federal aid eligible roads as the deterioration cycle of roads unfortunately shows a continued trend of Poor condition,” stated TAMC Chair Joanna I. Johnson.

The report found Michigan’s Federal Aid eligible paved roads were:

  • 22% Good
  • 36% Fair
  • 42% Poor

In 2019, the breakdown was 21% Good, 40% Fair and 39% in Poor condition.

Michigan’s bridges declined in condition in 2020 with:

  • 36% Good
  • 53% Fair
  • 7% Poor
  • 4% “Severe”

In 2019, the distribution was 38% Good, 51% Fair, 7% Poor and 4% Severe. The Severe category was added into TAMC reporting in 2019 as a measure of criticality and a warning that these structures are in jeopardy for closure due to structural concerns that could pose a threat to traffic. “We continue to lose progress with these valuable assets, especially as we look at neighboring Great Lake States”, stated Chair Johnson.

Christopher Bolt, an assistant county administrator in Jackson County, is the MAC representative on the council.

 

Staff picks

MAC continues to gather answers, devise strategies on ARP spending

With the release of a new U.S. Treasury FAQ sheet and aggregated language on interim spending rules, Michigan counties now have substantial guidance on how they can use the $1.9 billion in direct investments via the American Rescue Plan.

Meanwhile, MAC is working with state and local officials on a strategy to help magnify the impact of the billions of dollars coming to all levels of government in our state.

Among key elements in the new Treasury FAQ are: 

  • Costs of consultants: Recovery Funds CAN be used to cover the costs of consultants to assist with managing and administering the funds.
  • Public jobs programs: Recovery Funds CAN be used to establish public jobs programs (I.e. subsidized employment, combined education an on-the-job training, job training to accelerate rehiring or address negative economic impacts, childcare assistance or assistance with transportation to and from a jobsite or interview).
  • Revenue loss and audited financial data: If a county does not have audited data readily available when calculating its revenue loss, it is not required to obtain audited data. 
  • Revenue loss and Census data: When calculating general revenue, counties should use their own data sources and do NOT need to rely on published revenue data from the Census Bureau.
  • Revenue loss on cash basis/accrual basis: When determining revenue loss, counties may provide data on a cash, accrual or modified accrual basis, so long as the county is consistent in their choice of methodology throughout the covered period and until reporting is no longer required.

For more context and guidance, counties also can consult documents created by MAC and by NACo that highlight critical issues and concepts.

And MAC continues to work on a plan to earmark close to $4 billion in state ARP funds as matching funds to enhance local efforts. For this plan, the Whitmer administration and legislative leaders have asked for ideas that:

  • will be transformational in nature;
  • do not create new programs; and
  • strategically invest the one-time dollars in areas of greatest need for improvement.

MAC has been having multiple conversations each week with the administration, legislative leaders, business and community leaders and other stakeholders on this idea. Our hope is to create a groundswell of support that bridges the political gap in Lansing and truly provides the resources and value needed for strategic investments in Michigan. As part of that effort, MAC has created a resolution template that counties can use to express support for the matching funds concept.

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

 

Registration is now open for MAC’s 2021 Regional Summits

Commissioners and other county leaders can learn tips on how to utilize American Rescue Plans and be briefed on the affordable housing crisis and its effects on counties during MAC’s 2021 Regional Summits in late July.

In light of COVID-19, some changes have been made to the event. All food and beverage will be boxed/packaged, for example. And networking time will be minimized.

As usual, however, MAC will offer the summits at four sites across Michigan:

  • July 19 – Grand Rapids
  • July 22 – Frankenmuth
  • July 26 – Escanaba
  • July 29 – Gaylord

Start your registration process by visiting the events page at our website.

“Our summits are designed to provide the most important, most practical information for commissioners and other county leaders in the shortest possible amount of time,” explained Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director. “This design is in deference to commissioners’ busy schedule and also, this year, to the realities imposed by COVID-19.”

Topics to be covered at all four sessions include:

  • Using American Rescue Plan funds effectively
  • Worker safety at the office and at home during COVID
  • Why your county should be thinking about affordable housing
  • The benefits of partnering with Michigan’s community foundations

The summit will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; a light breakfast and lunch will be included for the $35 fee.

 

MAC seeks volunteers for new Juvenile Justice Task Force

MAC will be nominating two county commissioners to a new Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week.

In announcing the new panel, Whitmer’s office explained the task force as “a partnership between the county and state leaders, as well as other leaders involved in the juvenile justice system. Additionally, the Task Force’s goal will be to develop an ambitious, innovative, and thorough analysis of Michigan’s juvenile justice system, complete with recommendations for changes in state law, policy and appropriations to improve youth outcomes.”

Alongside the governor for the announcement was Lt. Gov Garlin Gilchrist, who will chair the group. The task force will include members from the judicial and legislative branches. Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Wayne) and Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson) also made comments during the announcement event.

Under the order, MAC will nominate two county commissioners, or their designee, to serve among appointees from other organizations representing countywide elected officials.   

If a county commissioner wishes to serve or has a designee that would be a good fit, please let MAC know immediately by emailing keit@micounties.org. The deadline to submit names is June 18.

In other juvenile justice news, bills to eliminate the ability for courts to access and collect costs associated with juvenile justice services were introduced:

  • House Bill 4987, by Rep Kara Hope (D-Ingham), would prohibit any court ordered fee or costs associated with consent calendar services. It removes the ability for any reasonable reimbursement, which under current law requires the court to take into account the juvenile’s income and resources, to be assessed for services under the consent calendar.
  • HB 4988, by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Lenawee), would prohibit reimbursement for diversion services.
  • HB 4989, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), eliminates the assessment on a DNA sample for juveniles, in which revenues from assessments help support the jail reimbursement program fund and the court equity fund.
  • HB 4990, by Rep. Joe Tate (D-Wayne), prohibits any reimbursement by the “juvenile or those responsible for the juvenile’s support” for cost of care outside of the juvenile’s home.
  • HB 4991, by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia), eliminates any late fees for juveniles.

MAC opposes all these bills in their current forms.

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

 

Housing package advances as MAC continues to express concern

Bipartisan legislation backed by the Michigan Housing Coalition passed unanimously, without MAC-requested changes, out of Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee this week, chaired by Sen. Ken Horn (R-Saginaw). The bill package now moves to the Senate floor.

Senate Bills 360361, by Sen. Roger Victory (R-Ottawa), allow employers to claim an income tax credit equal to 50 percent of the total eligible contributions made during the tax year. Eligible contributions would include supporting a local impact housing trust fund or offering employees the option to participate in a qualified employer-assisted housing project that assists employees in securing affordable housing near the workplace.

SB 362, by Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Kent), would allow a qualified local governmental unit, by resolution of its legislative body, to establish one or more “attainable housing districts.” Within 28 days of receiving a copy of the resolution establishing a district, the county could reject the establishment of the district by written notification to the qualified local governmental unit.

SB 422, by Sen. Horn, creates the “Residential Facilities Exemption” and would allow a temporary tax abatement on qualified new housing development in districts established by local units of government. Within 28 days of receiving a copy of the resolution, a county could reject the establishment of the district.

MAC supports those four bills.

However, MAC did not support two other bills in the package and is working to ensure counties are included in the process of making property tax exemption decisions and community development decisions under SBs 364, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland),and 432, by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Grand Traverse). SB 364 would expand the area in which a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone could be developed. The committee passed version was amended to ensure the expanded NEZ area in a community is adjacent to existing development and a contains 5 or more existing residentials units per acre at the time of designation.

However, there is still no county oversight or involvement during the process under the bill at this point.

SB 432 allows local governments the ability to develop payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) policies and enter into PILOT agreements with developers who are building or rehabbing affordable housing units. Again, there is currently no county oversight or involvement during the process which would affect property taxes supporting important county programs for growing populations. .

Please refer to MAC’s May 21 update for further information and our written testimony to the chair, committee members and bill sponsors.

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

 

Podcast 83 will resume live episodes on June 21

MAC’s Podcast 83 team continued to field questions about American Rescue Plan funds and the state budget during their most recent live episode on June 7.

To see the video of the episode, click here.

The Podcast 83 team will take a break on Monday, June 14 and reconvene on the web on Monday, June 21 to discuss legislative action in Lansing and Washington, D.C.

Links to past episodes can be found on the podcast webpage, while every 2021 video episode is now available on MAC’s YouTube channel.

 

Keep up the emails, resolutions on 4-year terms

After gaining broad support and bipartisan passage in the Michigan Senate last week, legislation to adopt four-year terms for county commissioners awaits initial action in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bills 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), would bring four-year terms for county commissioners to Michigan in the 2024 presidential election cycle.

The bills will be referred to the House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance on Tuesday.  

MAC continues to encourage commissioners to add their voices to the four-year term effort. As of Friday morning, 79 county leaders had responded. Please add your voice to this effort today by clicking here.

MAC also requests that counties adopt official resolutions of support for the legislation. To download a template for this purpose, click here. If you pass such a resolution, please send a copy to Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

As of Thursday, 27 counties had advised MAC of passage of such resolutions: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Cheboygan, Clinton, Crawford, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Huron, Ionia, Isabella, Lenawee, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Oscoda, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

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

 

Survey in field for indigent defense services

In accordance with the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) Act, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) must submit a report to the governor and Legislature that includes a recommendation regarding the appropriate level of local share.

The MIDC has asked Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a nonpartisan public policy firm, to conduct an evaluation to assist with the MIDC’s recommendation to the Legislature. PSC has developed a survey to gain broad feedback on topics raised during stakeholder interviews and preliminary data collection.

The MIDC is seeking feedback from stakeholders like counties to incorporate ideas and policy recommendations into the MIDC’s report. Please respond to this local share evaluation survey by June 15.

Questions related to the survey can be routed to Erin Lammers at elammers@publicsectorconsultants.com.

 

Next Michigan Treasury webinar set for June 17

The next webinar in a series co-sponsored by MAC on local finance issues will run from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 17.

The 13th event in the “Updates and Resources for Local Governments” webinar series, co-sponsored by MAC, the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Townships Association and the Michigan Department of Treasury, will cover:

  • Updates on the American Rescue Plan Act, including eligible uses and receipting
  • Strategically utilizing funds

Participants can register and submit questions on the webinar’s registration page.

Additionally, the Michigan Department of Treasury has developed a webpage with numbered letters, memorandums, webinars, and resources regarding COVID-19 updates for local governments and school districts. This webpage was created to ensure that Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance and is updated frequently with information and resources as they become available. 

 

Redistricting Commission updates meeting schedule

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) has made some schedule changes to its ongoing series of public hearings for its work to redraw political lines for the 2022 elections.

Please note, the Independent Redistricting Commission will draw district lines for state legislative and federal congressional districts. The lines for county commissioner districts are handled by county Apportionment Boards. For details on the apportionment process, click here or view a recording of a 2021 Legislative Conference workshop on the process.

DETROIT
Tuesday, June 15
Start Time:  5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.)
Follow link to sign-up or RSVP (virtual or in-person) 

DETROIT
Thursday, June 17
Start Time:  5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.)
Follow link to sign-up or RSVP (virtual or in-person)

PORT HURON
Tuesday, June 22
Start Time:  5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.)
Follow link to sign-up or RSVP (virtual or in-person)

WARREN
Thursday, June 24
Start Time:  5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.)
Follow link to sign-up or RSVP (virtual or in-person) 

MUSKEGON
Tuesday, June 29
Start Time:  5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.)
Follow link to sign-up or RSVP (virtual or in-person)

GRAND RAPIDS
Thursday, July 1
Start Time:  5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.)
Follow link to Sign-up or RSVP (virtual or in-person)

 

State using webinars to report on health technology

Over the previous 12 months, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and CedarBridge Group (CBG) have been conducting an environmental scan of the health information technology infrastructure within Michigan. The draft environmental scan findings and recommendations have been presented to MDHHS and the Health I.T. Commission. The time has come to present those findings and recommendations, and collect feedback from all of you, the health information technology stakeholders who have made it all possible.

To begin the effort, MDHHS and CBG will be hosting three webinars starting at 1 p.m. EST. Each will be 60 minutes and begin with a brief presentation of findings and recommendations lasting about 20 minutes. The remaining time will be used for discussion, real-time polling and electronic Q&A. Registration for the webinars is not mandatory and all stakeholders are welcome to attend.

To pre-register, go to http://bit.ly/roadmap_registration.

For questions, contact CedarBridge Group at miroadmap@cedarbridgegroup.com.

 

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