Legislative Update 1-12-24

MAC unveils 2024 legislative priorities

A commitment to the financial health of Michigan counties undergirds a robust legislative agenda released today by the Michigan Association of Counties for 2024.

Among the priorities for MAC in Lansing this year are revenue sharing, state reimbursement for lost revenue due to the disabled veteran property tax exemption, extending the sunset on our ability to collect fees that fund our trial courts, tackling the issue of Medicaid for jail inmates set to be released and ongoing challenges in financing infrastructure improvements and maintenance.

Revenue Sharing Trust Fund

MAC places a high priority on securing and enhancing the revenue sharing for counties. House Bills 4274-75 carve out a portion of the state sales tax and dedicates it to revenue sharing passed the House last November with overwhelming bipartisan support. Getting this policy through the Senate and to the governor’s desk tops the list of our priorities this year. 

Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption reimbursement

Since 2014, MAC has been seeking reimbursement for the state policy exempting 100 percent disabled veterans from paying property taxes. When the policy was initially passed, the cost estimate for locals was in the ballpark of $18 million. Today, the cost is closer to $100 million for all recipients of property tax revenue. Working with the veterans organizations and policy-makers, we have come up with a mechanism to reimburse local units for their lost revenue. Unfortunately, the state is more than hesitant to take financial responsibility for the exemption. MAC will continue to work with the administration to stress the importance of the reimbursement to counties. 

Increasing resources for juvenile justice services

MAC recognizes the need for additional beds for juveniles across the state and the challenges counties face with a lack of available and qualified workers to staff these facilities. The only way to address these critical shortages is to infuse additional funds into the system. MAC will seek state funds for staff recruitment, retention and training, plus direct funding for facilities. 

Extending the sunset on trial court funding authorization

To maintain the effectiveness of the judicial system, MAC calls for an extension of the sunset on trial court funding authorization. The current authorization for the collection of fees that help to fund our trial courts expires in May. We will seek an extension of this authorization to May of 2026 and in the interim seek the enactment of the recommendations from the Trial Court Funding Commission. 

Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy

While federal legislation to address necessary reforms to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) is under way, and several states have been approved for Medicaid Section 1115 waivers to allow for Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals, Michigan counties still face burdensome costs in anticipation of these reforms.

To alleviate the financial burden imposed by the MIEP, MAC is pursuing a policy to require health care providers to bill at the Medicaid-established rate for all incarcerated individuals who do not possess private health care and receive medical care outside of the county jail.  In addition, MAC is working on an initiative to require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a Medicaid Section 1115 Re-entry Waiver, which several other states have been approved for, to reinstate Medicaid benefits for incarcerated individuals prior to release from county jails. 

Infrastructure funding

Addressing Michigan’s infrastructure needs, MAC prioritizes road funding in its legislative agenda. Proposals include sustainable and long-term solutions to maintain and improve the state’s transportation infrastructure. With declining gas tax revenue due to more efficient vehicles and the influx of electric vehicles and road quality declining, a new approach must be found. MAC envisions safer roads, reduced congestion and enhanced connectivity contributing to economic growth and overall community well-being.

For more information on MAC’s 2024 priorities, please contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Experts: $14 billion to spend from state General Fund in fiscal 2025

Michigan legislators will have about $14 billion in General Fund revenue to use for the fiscal 2025 budget, economic and budget experts said Friday in the first Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) of 2024.

These conferences are required by statute to determine the state of Michigan’s financial resources as lawmakers draft annual budgets, including spending areas that are critical to county needs, such as revenue sharing.

As for impacts on county priorities in 2024, MAC Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth said the projections leave the potential for MAC’s goal to enact a dedicated Revenue Sharing Trust Fund this year in good shape. but the meager growth does hinder the possibility for investment in other MAC priorities.

As for the perennial question of infrastructure funding, Bosworth said the clear need there is for the state to develop a new method to fund road maintenance and improvements in the face of pressures on traditional fuel taxes.

The Legislature will begin its budget work in earnest in February when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer presents her Executive Budget recommendations. The next revenue conference, in May 2024, will set the final numbers available for spending for the FY25 state budget, which is supposed to be finished, by statute, by June 30.

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

 

‘Ax Tax’ proposal headed back to the Board of State Canvassers next week

Earlier this week, MAC, in a special Podcast 83 episode to launch its 2024 season, reviewed a radical ballot proposal that, if adopted, would blow a nearly $3 billion hole in county revenues.

The podcast guest, Steve Liedel of the firm of Dykema in Lansing, is an expert in elections law, discussed the process that the group “Ax MI Tax” is using to try to ban property taxes in Michigan.

Since the taping and release of this episode, the Ax MI Tax group has altered their course and is again going before the Board of State Canvassers to have their ballot proposal summary language approved before they start the signature collecting process.  The meeting to approve the language is set for Jan. 19.

MAC is part of a group of interested parties engaging and closely monitoring this proposal and will keep our membership updated as we learn more.

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

 

Ballot group formed to challenge energy siting law

A ballot committee announced its plan last week to bring a voter initiative on a new law to revamp legislation that grants the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) the ability to override local governments in the permitting of renewable energy facilities.

Citizens for Local Choice is behind the proposal and aims to gather 550,000 signatures before May to get the initiative on the ballot for the November 2024 election. The group hopes to raise $7 million to $10 million to fund their work. (Under Michigan’s “indirect” initiative process, the measure would first go to the Legislature, which could choose to adopt it. If the Legislature rejected the initiative, the question would then move to the voters.)

The intent of the initiative is to nullify part of Public Act 233 of 2023, which allows solar and wind developers to apply for a permit directly to the MPSC if the local unit has not adopted a Compatible Renewable Energy Ordinance. If the local unit has such an ordinance, the developer may eventually appeal adverse decisions to the MPSC. Ultimately, the ballot initiative is an attempt to retain full local zoning authority.

According to Ballotpedia, the 2024 signature requirement for an initiated law is 356,958.

MAC was opposed to the act’s provisions that stripped decision-making from local governments, but that is not an indication of our position on clean energy goals. MAC is not a member of Citizens for Local Choice and has not been involved in the group’s work.

 

MAC-backed coalition will recognize promising practices on opioids

The Opioid Advisory Commission (OAC) is partnering with the Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association, to spotlight local governments that are demonstrating promising practices, in alignment with national guidance.

Individuals can nominate their local government for recognition by the OAC, within quarterly and annual reports of the Commission —completion of this form allows for nomination of a jurisdiction.

Click here to nominate your local government.

Through nomination, the work of local governments may also be shared with the National Association of Counties (NACo.) Opioid Solutions Center for recognition on their website or within publications, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as nomination for Awards for Excellence in the Application of the Opioid Litigation Principles. 

Data collected from this survey will be housed with the OAC and shared with the Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Townships Association, and Michigan Municipal League.

For more information, contact oac@legislature.mi.gov.

 

Learn about $6 million ‘Catalyst Communities’ grant opportunity on Jan. 26

The Catalyst Communities Initiative is a comprehensive program to provide education, training, planning, and technical resources to local governments as they work toward their sustainability goals. This initiative offers an array of resources on various environmental, social, and economic topics to help communities across Michigan make a just transition to decarbonization and meet our MI Healthy Climate Plan goals. The initiative aims to provide a range of resource options to meet communities wherever they are, regardless of geography, population size, or pre-existing knowledge.  The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Catalyst Communities Initiative is hosting this webinar series free to communities.

Next event: Jan. 26, 11 a.m. to noon (Eastern) – Community Energy Management Program RFP and Application Overview

The Community Energy Management Program has been amended to expand the total amount of funding available, eligible projects areas, and the maximum award size. These changes were made possible by additional federal funding from the State Energy Program’s (SEP) Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocation and the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) allocation. This webinar will highlight the additional funding and increased award sizes that are available, along with the expanded eligible project areas that communities can consider when applying.

Noteworthy details:

  • Program solicitation closes June 30, 2024, or when all funding is expended, whichever comes first.
  • Total funding available is $5,850,000.
  • Project awards have been expanded to a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $100,000. 
  • For the SEP portion of the funds, any local government, tribal government, or other public service entity physically located in Michigan is eligible to apply.
  • For the EECBG portion of the funds, any local government or tribal government physically located in Michigan that did not receive direct EECBG funding allocations is eligible to apply.
  • The grant period will end, and funds must be expended by Aug. 31, 2025.

Webinar recordings are posted online for future viewing on the Catalyst Communities Webinars Webpage and anyone registering to join will get a notification when the recording is available.

 

MAC’s YouTube page has dozens of new videos

The Michigan Association of Counties holds numerous educational events each year to help members stay abreast of policy and financial developments. And, for those members who are unable to attend, either in person or via digital links, MAC routinely records presentations and makes them available through our channel on YouTube.

Be sure to bookmark our YouTube page to see all of MAC’s video work.

Recent additions to the channel include:

Be sure to bookmark the page on your browser, as we will add videos throughout the year.

 

MAC offices closed for MLK holiday

MAC’s offices in Lansing will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15 to observe the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

Normal office hours will resume at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

For information on MAC committee meetings, click here. For information on MAC events, click here.

 

Nominations open for Hometown Health Hero awards

The Michigan Public Health Week Partnership, a collaboration of 12 organizations, including MAC, working to increase the visibility of significant accomplishments in public health, is seeking nominations of individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to preserve and improve their community’s health for its annual Hometown Health Hero awards. Hometown Health Hero awards are presented every spring as part of Michigan Public Health Week, April 8-14. Award recipients will be honored at a reception April 10 in the atrium of Heritage Hall in the State Capitol.

Michigan Public Health Week is observed as part of National Public Health Week the first week of April to recognize the contributions of public health and to highlight issues that are important to improving the nation’s health. Each year, the American Public Health Association develops a campaign to educate the public, policy makers and health care providers about issues related to that year’s theme.

Nomination forms can be downloaded from Michigan.gov/mphw. Completed nominations should be sent to Jim Koval via email at kovalj@michigan.gov or faxed to 517-335-8392 by Wednesday, Jan. 31.

 

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