LANSING, MICH. – A state panel charged with recommending reforms to Michigan’s trial court system issued an interim report today with five proposals that offer promise for solutions to this longstanding challenge, but counties see much work remains in Lansing on this issue. The Trial Court Funding Commission released its work early due to pending litigation (People v. Cameron) at the Michigan Supreme Court that could affect the current funding streams for trial courts.

“These recommendations are a solid beginning on this vital issue. MAC is grateful for the work of Monroe County Administrator Michael Bosanac and his colleagues on the commission,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC). “However, the central challenge remains – finding a stable, comprehensive funding system for our courts. With the potential effects of a Cameron decision looming, counties are eager to get to work with lawmakers on a permanent funding fix.” The commission’s interim report highlights five recommendations:

· Establish a stable court funding system

· Provide all court technology needs

· Establish uniform assessments and centralized collections

· Move toward a uniform employment system

· Establish a transition plan for a new court funding model to be established by the Legislature

Trial courts are the largest unfunded mandate on county governments in Michigan, with local funding accounting for nearly half the $1.14 billion to $1.44 billion in estimated costs. The commission was formed by the Legislature in response to People v. Cunningham, a Michigan Supreme Court decision that determined state law does not provide trial courts with independent authority to impose any court cost on a convicted defendant. The commission will continue to meet until its statutory expiration of Sept. 28, 2019.

Director of Governmental Affairs Deena Bosworth told the House Local Government Committee on Feb. 6 that financial trends continue to run against county governments that are trying to deliver vital local services.

During her presentation, Bosworth noted that counties have not recovered from the Great Recession of the last decade due to the constraints on growth in taxable values on property. Counties rely heavily on the property tax to fund local services, unlike the state government, which has a much more diversified revenue base, Bosworth noted.

Bosworth was among representatives of local government groups to testify before the House panel on the current situation in local services and what the state can and should do to aid their local counterparts.

See Bosworth’s testimony here, starting at the 55:30 mark.

For a complete look at MAC’s 2019 legislative priorities, click here.

The 2019 MAC Membership Directory is now available for sale to the public! The directory includes county-by-county listings for all county elected officials, plus key appointed officials, including administrators and purchasing officers. Orders received prior to Jan. 30, 2019, can receive a copy for the price of $30, including shipping. After Jan. 30, the price moves to $40. Directories will become available in early February. There are limited quantities of the directory, so reserve your copy now! For the fee, you receive a hard copy of the directory and a password to access the digital version of it, complete with a search function. Just think: Every county leader in Michigan listed in one single spot. Begin your purchase today by accessing our order form.
Podcast 83 is a regular look at the news, stories and trends related to Michigan’s 83 counties from Keweenaw to Monroe, Chippewa to Berrien. Hosted by MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie, the podcast features:
  • Regular reports from MAC staff on legislative activities
  • Updates and opportunities through MAC services
  • Newsmaker interviews
  • Happenings from across Michigan’s 83 counties

2018 Episodes

Episode 1 – released 8/24/18

Host: Stephan Currie Guests: Deena Bosworth, MAC; Meghann Keit, MAC Topics: Raise the Age legislation (1:00 mark); Indigent Defense (5:40); Personal Property Tax (7:05); Property Assessment Rules (14:42)

Michigan county leaders pose with U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (third from left) and Gary Peters (second from right) after a special briefing arranged by MAC on Capitol Hill on March 7.

A contingent of Michigan county officials, led by MAC Board President Matthew Bierlein of Tuscola County and other board officers, made a round of visits to Michigan’s congressional delegation on Capitol Hill during the 2018 National Association of Counties Legislative Conference this week.

Taking a break from the policy and service workshops at the conference, Michigan leaders met with Reps. Jack Bergman, Debbie Dingell, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, David Trott, Fred Upton and Tim Walberg on Tuesday, March 6. Michigan leaders also attended a special briefing from the state’s U.S. senators, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, to cap the day.

“These visits are a key part of the annual NACo event in D.C.,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of MAC. “The pace of public life is such that it’s rare when you can put so many county leaders in front of our federal representatives at one time. You have to grab those opportunities whenever you can.”

County leaders attending this year’s NACo event included:

Vaughn Begick (Bay County), Alisha Bell (Wayne County), Roger  Bergman (Ottawa County), Matthew Bierlein (Tuscola County), Ken Borton (Otsego County), David Bowman (Oakland County), Emily Brieve (Kent County), Carol Crawford (Grand Traverse County), Greg DeJong (Ottawa County), Donald Disselkoen (Ottawa County),  Jerry Doucette (Alger County), Veronica Klinefelt (Macomb County), Philip Kuyers (Ottawa County), Sarah Lightner (Jackson County), Daniel Mahoney (Jackson County), Christian Marcus (Antrim County), Stephanie Moore (Kalamazoo County), Michael Overton (Jackson County), Stan Ponstein (Kent County), Julie Rogers (Kalamazoo County), Richard Schmidt (Manistee County), Michael Seals (Kalamazoo County), Eugene Smith (Iron County), Joe Stevens (Dickinson County), Jim Storey (Allegan County), Mary   Swanson (Kent County), Jim Talen (Kent County),  Shelley Taub (Oakland County), Al Vanderberg (Ottawa County) Matthew Van Zetten (Kent County) Gary Woronchak (Wayne County) and Helaine Zack (Oakland County).