Michigan Supreme Court hears challenge to local judges’ ability to collect costs

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments this week in Lansing on People v. Johnson, which challenges the state statute allowing judges to impose court costs on convicted defendants.

Critics of state law say it’s unconstitutional for a judge to oversee a criminal case and also have the power to order someone to pay a share of their court’s operations. The attorney for Travis Johnson argued to the court the statute violates due process because it creates a perceived conflict of interest between a judge’s impartiality and the obligation to generate revenue for the court.

In a 2-1 decision in April 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s order, holding the relevant statute was not unconstitutional.

In the hearing this week, Justice David Viviano questioned whether judges really feel they must “fundraise” to keep their courts in operation.  He noted he did not while serving at the trial level and, because the Legislature is obligated to fund the courts, the judges should not feel pressure to do so. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack suggested whether a legislative fix imposing a specific fine per offense would remedy the problem, to which defense attorneys responded that while it may be better than status quo, their opinion is the main problem of courts generating revenue for their operations would remain in that scenario.

While the court case continues, the statute that allows these court costs is still on track to expire in October.

To deal with this legislative “sunset,” Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson) introduced House Bill 5956, which extends the sunset until 2025, and HB 5957, which authorizes the State Court Administrative Office to create a formula for local courts’ operational needs and requires the state to fund the amount needed to replace revenue loss due to a court ruling.

The Trial Court Funding Commission outlined this proposal in its recommendations under a scenario in which court costs are eliminated as a source of trial court funding prior to long-term solutions being implemented. The report specifically states, “Funds necessary to meet this shortfall must be appropriated by the Legislature.”

Lightner’s bills, which MAC supports, are before the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Kent).

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

 

Counties continue to oppose mental health privatization bid

Legislation that eliminates local control and local decision-making in community mental health systems remains under consideration by the Michigan Senate.

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

MAC will continue to oppose any move to shift toward privatization of our local public mental health system. To use MAC’s digital advocacy tool to send a message of opposition to your senator, click here.

To date, the boards of 62 counties have passed resolutions in opposition to the legislation, covering 84.5 percent of House members and 92.2 percent of Senate members. (If your county is not listed below and passes a resolution in opposition, please send it to sweeney@micounties.org.)

Additional resources to use with your legislators on this issue are:

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

 

Join Podcast 83 team on April 11 for live update

MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie and the Podcast 83 team of Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit-Corrion will be live on Monday, April 11 to discuss what issues will dominate in Lansing as legislators return from their spring break next week.

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

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

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

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

 

MAC provides option for members to download conference photos

In addition to the regular conference photo gallery for the 2022 Legislative Conference, MAC has created an even larger gallery of photos that can be downloaded in sizes suitable for printing.

Link to full photo gallery: https://www.dropbox.com/t/yq8A5pSwJRhrmgTv

Once you open the page, you may scroll down to find your photo and the option to download to your desktop or mobile device.

 

NACo issues alert about ARP auditing standards

The National Association of Counties issued the following alert regarding audit rules for American Rescue Plan funds:

“Today, the Office of Management and Budget posted a new alternative, titled Addendum 3, to Single Audit Act requirements for certain ARPA Recovery Fund recipients. Under current guidance, recipients and subrecipients that expend more than $750,000 in federal awards during their fiscal year will be subject to an audit under the Single Audit Act and its implementing regulation at 2 CFR Part 200, Subpart F regarding audit requirements. Addendum 3 changed this requirement for counties that received less than $10 million in Recovery Funds. This will help our rural counties significantly.

“Top 10 things you should know about Addendum 3 to the 2021 Single Audit Compliance Supplement:

  1. If a county is eligible, you should discuss this with your Auditor
  1. This is an addendum to the 2021 Single Audit Compliance Supplement and, specifically, the revision is Addendum 3
  2. Addendum 3 includes a simplified Single Audit process (an “Attestation”) for those direct recipients that are considered exempt from the Single Audit if it was not for the expenditures of SLFRF funds
  3. This alternative is intended to reduce the burden of a full Single Audit or Program-Specific Audit on eligible recipients and practitioners
  4. This alternative applies to fiscal year audits beginning after June 30, 2020
  5. Attestation would result in an auditor’s opinion on compliance which includes an assessment of two activities, specifically “activities allowed” and “unallowed/allowable cost”
  6. Attestation is optional – any SLFRF direct recipient can decide to perform a Single Audit instead even if they are eligible for attestation
  7. Eligibility is limited:
    1. Attestation (instead of SA) eligibility would only apply to direct recipients from Treasury receiving under $10M in total
    2. Attestation (instead of SA) eligibility would apply to direct recipients only if other Federal award funds the recipient expended are less than $750,000 during the recipient’s fiscal year – not including their SLFRF award funds
  8. Single Audit would still apply if the recipient spends over $750K in ANY OTHER federal funds
  9. Uniform Guidance (UG) still applies to ALL expended funds, whether the recipient performs an Attestation or a Single Audit”

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

Take the MGC Challenge by April 29

The Michigan Green Communities Challenge is open through April 29 and is open to all counties.

Participation involves two easy steps:

  1. Register for an account at: https://migreencommunities.com/register/
  2. Take the Challenge!

The annual Michigan Green Communities Challenge is a key part of the program and allows participants to track and benchmark their sustainability progress. Communities can log their sustainability actions using the MGC Challenge to achieve bronze, silver or gold recognition. The MGC Challenge should only take a few hours of staff time to complete.

Benefits of participating in the Challenge:

  • Have access to peers across Michigan through the MGC Network
  • Gain access to technical support, guidance, and examples
  • Save money and municipal resources by taking steps to reduce energy and resource use
  • Take steps to improve health outcomes for your residents
  • Improve air and water quality
  • Support your local economy
  • Engage your residents in community planning and sustainable actions

If you have questions, you can reach the Michigan Green Communities coordinator, Danielle Beard, at dbeard@migreencommunities.com or MAC’s Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

MAC is a supporting member of Michigan Green Communities.

 

Webinar focuses on new ways to think about budgets

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Rethinking Budgeting Initiative is helping local governments update budget practices to better meet the rapidly changing needs of communities. This initiative is raising new ideas and producing guidance for how local government budget systems can be adapted to changing needs. The initiative explores a wide range of topics related to the budget process including budget planning, fairness in budgeting and how behavioral science impacts budget decisions. 

In this webinar, participants will have a chance to learn more about the concept of fairness in budgeting and discuss how ideas of fairness impact their own budget process and decisions. 

Join this free webinar on April 13 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Click here to register.

The webinar link will be sent out following registration. The webinar will be recorded, and the recording will be sent out to everyone who registers.

 

Governor signs $4.7 billion spending bill on water, more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

National County Government Month is under way

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

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

MAC members are encouraged to make use of NCGM resources:

 

Conference attendees, respond to survey by Monday, April 4

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

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

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

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

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

 

MDHHS opioid webinar set for April 5

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

Click this link to join the session: Recovery Webinar.

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

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

 

Get On Board! with better meetings for your county

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

NACo urges use of funding opportunities on mental health

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Deadline extended to April 15 for Achievement Awards

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

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

APPLY TODAY

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

 

Legislature approves $4.7 billion spending bill for infrastructure

After weeks of discussion and debate, the Legislature swiftly gave final passage this week to a spending bill that earmarks $4.7 billion for an array of infrastructure priorities and sectors.

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

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

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

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

The investment package was approved by both the House and the Senate today and includes funding for water infrastructure, roads and bridges, broadband internet, housing assistance and more. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signaled her support for the package and is expected to sign the bills when they arrive on her desk.

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

 

Hundreds gather in Lansing for 2022 Legislative Conference

Eric Frederick of Connected Nation briefs attendees on broadband expansion plans in Michigan.

Nearly 300 county officials, vendors, policy experts and others gathered in Lansing this week for the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference, hosted by MAC, in association with the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC).

During the three-day event, participants had access to a dozen policy workshops, heard from plenary speakers on the legislative situation in Lansing and the rapidly changing circumstances on broadband in Michigan and enjoyed ample networking time.

During his welcome address to county leaders, MAC Board President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County said, “This morning, I want to focus – briefly – on my ‘revelation,’ if you will, from my service in this organization: The power of a personal relationship with your state lawmakers. If the lights weren’t bright, I’m sure I could see Deena and Meghann and Steve nodding their heads in unison. They have told me over and over again that the power of MAC is in our membership and in the efforts of that membership.”

MAC’s Meghann Keit-Corrion (left) and Deena Bosworth give the MAC Legislative Update.

“It was good to be back to an in-person event,” said Stephan W. Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties, which holds the event, in association with the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council. “And we had much to celebrate in honoring Sens. McBroom and Moss for their work last year on passage of four-year terms for county commissioners, a long-standing MAC goal.”

Click here to see presentation slides from the conference.

Follow the links below to see videos from three breakout sessions:

Check out the conference photo gallery.

MAC’s next conference will be the 2022 Annual Conference, Sept. 18-21 in Port Huron. Expect registration to open for that event in early July.

 

Legislative Reception honors lawmakers, raises money for MACPAC

Sens. Ed McBroom (left) and Jeremy Moss inspect their County Advocate Awards at the Legislative Reception.

Sens. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson) and Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland) were very special guests at the 2022 MAC Legislative Reception on Tuesday, as they were honored as 2022 County Advocate Award winners for their work in 2021 in passing four-year terms for county commissioners.

The senators were lauded by Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth and Board President Phil Kuyers during a program that also included some “catch-up work,” the presentation of MAC’s 2020 County Advocate Awards that were disrupted by the pandemic. Honored for their work in 2019 were Sen. Roger Victory (R-Ottawa) and Reps. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson) and Julie Alexander (R-Jackson).

Bosworth also praised Allegan County’s Jim Storey, a MAC Board member, for his long efforts and testimony in support of four-year term legislation.

To close the evening, Bosworth recognized donors to MACPAC who achieved Platinum, Gold or Silver status in 2021 or 2022.

During the reception and at other points during the 2022 Legislative Conference, MAC was able to raise nearly $1,300 from county officials for its efforts in 2022.

For the latest list of donors, click here. To make a quick and easy digital donation, click here.

 

Key funding bill for county medical facilities advances in House

The House Health Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Lenawee), unanimously approved a three-year extension to the county maintenance of effort (MOE) rate for county medical care facilities (MCFs), a key legislative priority for the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC).

House Bill 5875, by Rep, Kahle, provides an extension to the MOE freeze until 2025, or until the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) implements a new reimbursement model, whichever is sooner.

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

Other organizations supporting the bill alongside MCMCFC include MAC, the Health Care Association of Michigan and Leading Age Michigan.

The Legislature will have a two-week break period, so the soonest a floor vote could occur is the week of April 11. MCMCFC and MAC will encourage swift action on it when legislators return to the Capitol.

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

 

MDHHS schedules new webinars on opioid issues, starting April 5

Following up on MAC’s recent Opioid Settlement Webinar and our conference breakout session, a new series of in-depth sessions on best practices in specific opioid response efforts will be offered to county leaders.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office, will be hosting this webinar series during April and May on the National Opioid Settlement.

All webinars will begin at 3 p.m. Please note the following dates and themes, with more detailed information to come.

  • Recovery – April 5
  • Harm reduction – April 19
  • Treatment – May 3 
  • Prevention – May 17

Each webinar will cover a different topic on ways communities can maximize the impact of the opioid settlement funds.

The April 5 session will discuss roles of Recovery Community Organizations and Housing. The link to that webinar will be shared in the April 1 Legislative Update. No registration is required to attend.

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

 

State announces marijuana funds for counties

More than $21 million is being sent to 53 counties from fees paid by marijuana businesses in their jurisdictions, the Michigan Treasury announced this week.

The county sum is part of the more than $42.2 million that’s being distributed among 163 local governments as a part of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

Next week, 62 cities, 15 villages, 33 townships and 53 counties will be receiving payments from the Marijuana Regulation Fund. For the state’s 2021 fiscal year, this means each eligible municipality and county will receive more than $56,400 for every licensed retail store and microbusiness located within its jurisdiction.

“The Michigan Department of Treasury will distribute these dollars as soon as practical to eligible local units of government,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said in a statement. “The doubling of this year’s payment amounts will have a larger impact on local government budgets.”

Revenue was collected from 374 licensees among the state’s cities, villages and townships during the 2021 fiscal year. Some of these municipalities host more than one licensed retail store and microbusiness.

For the 2021 fiscal year, more than $111 million was collected from the 10 percent adult-use marijuana excise tax. In total, there was $172 million available for distribution from the fund.

State law outlines how much is distributed from the Marihuana Regulation Fund.

Aside from the more than $42.2 million in disbursements to municipalities and counties, $49.3 million was sent to the School Aid Fund for K-12 education and another $49.3 million to the Michigan Transportation Fund.

 

Treasury sets April 7 for next webinar for local governments

The Michigan Treasury, in partnership with MAC and other local government groups, will hold the 16th joint webinar, “Updates and Resources for Local Governments,” on April 7, 2022.

Topics covered will include:

  • Revenue Sharing and Marihuana Regulation Fund distributions
  • Updates to State of Michigan Census Data and Demographics
  • Water Infrastructure Updates, Tools, and Resources
  • PA 202 of 2017 Data and Implementation over 4-years
  • Treasury updates

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

Presentations and recordings from this webinar, along with previous webinars, can be found at TREASURY – Webinars (michigan.gov). Utilize TREASURY – Contact Information (michigan.gov) for support related to Treasury’s local government services.

 

MAC-backed bills on road patrol funds clear House committee

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

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

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

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

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

 

All set for the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference?

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

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

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

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

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

See you in Lansing!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

State continues to shortchange public health, budget panel told

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

NACo updates Capitol Hill situation on ARP ‘clawback’

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

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

“Below are important talking points, with more context:

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

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

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

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

 

March 29 webinar to focus on broadband coverage

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

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

Register for the webinar by clicking here.

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

 

Registration is open for 2022 NACo conference in Colorado

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

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

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

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

Conference registration rates start at $530.

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

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

 

Early registration for Legislative Conference ends on March 15

County officials have through March 15 to register for the 2022 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference in Lansing. While on-site registrations will be accepted starting on day 1 of the conference, March 21, the member fee will rise to $435, as compared to the early-bird rate of $395.

Click here to start your registration process.

As of mid-day Friday, the Radisson Hotel in Lansing reported that 13 rooms were still available at the conference room rate of $142.95. However, the hotel does have additional rooms at retail rates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Broadband funds stalled as state office remains unstaffed

Michigan ranks among the bottom half of states for broadband connectivity, an unfortunate fact that was all too apparent during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The silver lining in this digital deficit, however, is that it now positions the state well in terms of federal funding assistance to connect homes and businesses.

The federal government has allocated several different pots of money for accurate broadband coverage mapping, planning for expansions and for the physical components and labor necessary to allow everyone in Michigan to connect at the speeds they need. Unfortunately, the money necessary to start this process must be appropriated by the Michigan Legislature before the state can hire the necessary staff to direct the process. 

Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), $250 million was allocated via the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. Ten percent of this sum has already reached the state, but it cannot be deployed until a supplemental spending bill is passed to allocate the funds for and staff the Michigan Highspeed Internet Office. Timing of this appropriation by the Legislature is critical to meet the planning report deadline in September 2022. 

With the more recent enactment of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Michigan is slated to receive between $100 million and $1.3 billion, based on connectivity maps outlining the unserved and the underserved under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program. The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for this program will be May 16, 2022, and Michigan will have six months to create a 5-year action plan to be eligible for the funds.

In addition, funding is available via:

  • The Digital Equity Act, which contains competitive grants for planning and implementation. This NOFO is also slated for May 2022. While an exact allocation is not yet known, the state estimates an additional $1 million.
  • The Competitive Middle-Mile Program, which totals $1 billion nationwide.
  • The ReConnect program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would have $550 million under the current version of the FY23 federal budget proposal.

Staffing the MIHI office should be priority no. 1, followed by accurate mapping, planning and submission of reports to receive all available funds. MAC will continue to monitor the state supplemental bills and opportunities to increase access to broadband across Michigan.

For more information on this issue, contact Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org.

 

MAC executive director joins statement urging legislative action on investing ARP funds

With Friday marking the 1-year anniversary of the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Dan Gilmartin, Executive Director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, and Stephan Currie, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Counties, issued the following statement on behalf of the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan:

“While the COVID-19 pandemic caused immense suffering across the state, the American Rescue Plan Act has also given cause for hope. The $6.5 billion in federal stimulus allocated to Michigan through this landmark legislation offers our state leaders a once-in-generation opportunity to strategically invest in our collective future.

That’s why we have come together as business and labor leaders, policy experts and local officials to present a unified strategy that leverages these funds for a maximum return on investment. We urge our legislative leaders and the Governor to use the Michigan Prosperity Roadmap we have provided to invest Michigan’s ARPA dollars in ways that improves the economic value of thriving communities, advances equity, builds community wealth, supports entrepreneurship, prioritizes the need for talent and spurs business development.

It is vital that Michigan’s leaders put these funds to use as quickly as possible so that our communities and citizens can experience the fullest economic recovery possible, and we look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor Whitmer toward that goal.”

Read more about the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan and its plan for leveraging the state’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars at www.miroadmap.com.

 

Next Podcast 83 live session is Monday, March 14

MAC’s Podcast 83 team will again be gathering for a live broadcast, this time on Monday, March 14 at 4 p.m.

Among topics to be covered will be updates on:

  • Mental health privatization legislation
  • Legislation for reimbursements on veteran property tax exemptions
  • Final preparations for the 2022 Legislative Conference

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

If you missed last week’s live episode, you can view it anytime on MAC’s YouTube channel.

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

 

MAC, allies continue push to block mental health privatization

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MDHHS resets program for substance use testing

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Child Welfare Services and Support released new program instruction this week regarding substance abuse testing. The new instruction discontinues the use of Averhealth for substance use testing.

MDHHS has directed staff to use other providers and will pay 100 percent of the costs associated with screening and testing for MDHHS supervised cases. Courts are no longer required to pay these costs and seek reimbursement through the Child Care Fund.

The following documents were issued by MDHHS this week:

  1. 2021-001 program instruction (OBSOLETE), for reference
  2. 2022-001 Obsoletion of Program Instruction 2021-001
  3. 22-025, Children’s Services Agency Communication Issuance

Please direct any questions to Theodore Jay, manager of federal compliance & child welfare funding, at JayT1@Michigan.gov.

 

Webinar to focus on ‘destigmatizing’ opioid treatment

A March 29 webinar will focus on how courts can be more supportive in dealing with those with opioid use disorders.

Supportive Courts: Integrating and destigmatizing Opioid Use Disorder Treatment will run from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and “provide information on how courts, specifically treatment courts, can support local opioid use disorder treatment efforts. Training will address the stigma surrounding medication assisted treatment (MAT), provide evidence of treatment effectiveness for justice-involved populations, and encourage coordination with community and jail-based treatment programs to improve clinical and legal outcomes.

“MAT has been a polarizing treatment effort that, despite its proven efficacy, has caused concern amongst drug courts and jail systems alike. As criminal justice leaders, it is imperative to use evidence-based practices that have reliable results in a rehabilitative setting, which can be mutually beneficial to both the courts as well as on an individual level,” MDHHS stated in announcing the webinar.

Click here to register.

Speakers the Honorable Shannon A. Holmes and Probation Director Wright N. Wade will share their experience leading specialty courts at the 36th District Court in Detroit. This is part two of a three-part series on Opioid Treatment Ecosystem implementation.

 

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