Legislative Update 10-16-20

Registration opens for 2020 New Commissioner Schools

To aid newly elected commissioners, and promote continuing education among veteran ones, MAC again is partnering with MSU Extension (MSUE) for the biennial New Commissioner Schools.

Registration is now open for this year’s series, which will be the first all-digital series in the event’s history.

“The value of these sessions for commissioners, new or not, is tremendous,” said Stephan Currie, MAC executive director. “We work closely with MSUE on content to ensure its direct application to the challenges and opportunities that commissioners encounter every day.”

With the digital format, sessions will open Nov. 12 and not conclude until mid-December, allowing attendees a great deal of flexibility on dates and times. In addition, registrants will have 24/7 access to previously released sessions – what MSUE calls “self-paced, asynchronous learning.”

MAC’s Currie will offer taped remarks to registrants, and MAC is sponsoring the segment on the Open Meetings Act, a particularly salient issue right now, led by Matt Nordfjord of the firm of Cohl, Stoker and Toskey.

Full details on the schedule of sessions can be found here.

Registration for the event, which carries a $95 fee, starts here.

Also, commissioners and commissioners-elect earn credits in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy for their participation in the New Commissioner Schools.

CCA operates on a two-year sequence, starting after an election. Participants earn continuing education “hours” by attending designated events and workshops. “Certification” is offered at two different levels: “Certified” is reached at 10 hours over a two-year cycle, while “Advanced” is reached with 20 hours over a four-year period. “Hours” will not be limited to MAC events. Commissioners can earn via attendance at MSUE-sponsored events or even sessions hosted by the Treasury Department or elsewhere.

A New Commissioner School equates to 5 credit hours, for example.

“We strongly encourage all members to consider these sessions,” Currie said, “and we look forward to seeing everyone online.”


Changes to Open Meetings Act allow for expanded remote sessions

Changes to the Open Meetings Act to allow county boards, under any circumstance, to continue to conduct virtual sessions through the end of the year are the governor’s signature away from being law, a signature that is expected late Friday afternoon

Senate Bill 1108 also allows for retroactive authorization for virtual sessions dating back to March 18, 2020, to ensure the validity of board actions taken during the pandemic. This blanket authorization expires on Jan. 1, 2021, but the bill will still allow for virtual participation in meetings in such circumstances as a commissioner’s medical condition and when the county or the state is operating in a state of emergency.

Legislation cleared the Senate and House earlier this week by bipartisan majorities. (MAC thanks members who participated in our advocacy campaign to the House this week for this result. Your voices make a difference in Lansing.) The bill was part of a huge wave of legislation passed this week that was sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature Friday.

The legislation allows county boards to meet electronically, in whole or in part, as follows:

March 18, 2020-Jan. 1, 2021, for “any circumstance, including but not limited to,” military leave, state or local emergency declaration, or for a medical condition”

Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2021, for “only those circumstances requiring accommodation of members absent due to military duty, a medical condition, or a statewide or local state of emergency”

After Dec 31, 2021, only for reason of military duty

If a member of the public body is participating remotely due to military duty or a medical condition, the accommodation only applies to that individual and the other members must by physically present at the meeting.

Each member of the public body that is meeting remotely must announce the county, city, township or village and state from which the member is attending remotely, and it must be included in the meeting minutes.

Quick passage of this legislation was a top priority for MAC in the wake of the litigation against the 1945 law that the governor had used for her Executive Orders during the pandemic.

For more information on OMA options, view the latest episode of MAC’s Podcast 83, sponsored by DTE, which featured Matt Nordfjord of the firm of Cohl, Stoker and Toskey answering questions on the law. 


Legislature adopts COVID care immunity, policy bills

During a Tuesday session that stretched into Wednesday morning, the Legislature revised laws to codify various orders that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had made during the pandemic, but which had been nullified when the Michigan Supreme Court said the 1945 law underpinning the orders was unconstitutional. Among actions taken was on immunity for nursing facilities, as well as implementation of the COVID-19 nursing home task force recommendations.

House Bill 6159, by Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Isabella), would provide immunity protections for medical care facilities during COVID-19 response efforts from March 29 through July 14, 2020. The final text of this bill can be found here. The bill now heads to the governor for review. 

Senate Bill 1094, by Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb), was also passed by both chambers. It adds many requirements for the state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), including adoption of policy as recommended by the nursing home COVID-19 Task Force and to identify labs that will process COVID tests from nursing homes by Nov. 15.

MDHHS must create a process for the creation of care and recovery centers (CRCs) within nursing homes for those residents who test positive for COVID “who have not met the criteria for the discontinuation of transmission-based precautions from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

A home wishing to operate a CRC would apply to DHHS and must adhere to several requirements. An individual cannot be admitted to a nursing home if they are positive for COVID-19, receiving treatment at a hospital and have fewer than 72 hours in the isolation period. Starting Nov. 15, the individual cannot be admitted to a nursing home if the person tests positive for COVID-19 unless they have since recovered, the nursing home is a CRC or the nursing home can meet the requirements under (1)(e). A nursing facility can continue to admit and care for a COVID-positive resident, through Dec. 31, 2020, under certain exemptions. 

The full text of the bill, which is now before the governor, can be found here.

Lastly, House Bill 6137, by Rep. Leslie Love (D-Wayne) was passed by the House regarding reporting requirement for MDHHS and nursing home data. The full list requirements can be found in the bill here. 

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


Jail Task Force-inspired bills advance in Senate

Legislation that will reduce burdens on county jails and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s criminal justice system were voted out of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee this week. MAC supports these reforms.

House Bills 5844 and 5854-57 remove mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain offenses. Removal of such sentences would mean a court could impose any term of imprisonment, up to the statutory maximum specified for an offense. For certain driving while intoxicated offenses, the legislation prohibits a judge from waiving the minimum, unless the offender successfully completes a specialty court program, such as a drug treatment or sobriety court.

Additionally, bills removing driver’s licenses sanctions for non-related driving offenses were also passed by the House. HBs 5846-5852 would eliminate various license suspensions unrelated to dangerous driving, such as failure to appear for court or failing to pay child support.

The Senate committee also voted out SB 1152, by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Wayne), that requires jails to provide certain accommodations to an incarcerated woman who is pregnant. The bill requires jails to provide pregnancy tests, a holding place for breastmilk, and access to an OB-GYN, nurse midwife, or doula services.

At this time, MAC opposes the Geiss bill due to unknown costs related to some of the previously mentioned services and liability connected to the requirements. See the full fiscal analysis for further cost impact to counties. 

MAC’s opposition testimony can be found here.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.


State again seeks input on five-year Health IT Roadmap for Michigan 

The Michigan Health Information Technology Commission has begun developing a Statewide Five-Year Health IT Roadmap. This Roadmap will be a guide for future planning, investments and governance of health information technology (HIT) and health information exchange (HIE) for the state of Michigan.

The next step is to gather input from stakeholders across the health and human services ecosystems in Michigan on current and future HIT and HIE needs, capabilities and gaps. Please ensure your input is included by participating in the survey and sharing your organization’s insights relevant to health information technology and health information exchange.

The appropriate individual(s) in your organization should complete this survey by Nov. 17, 2020. This survey should take no longer than about 20 minutes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, critical HIT and HIE services to support real-time, clinical interventions, care coordination, referrals to social support services, and research is imperative to supporting the health and well-being of the communities we serve. Your candid perspective in response to the survey questions will be very valuable and appreciated.

More information on the Statewide Five-Year Health IT Roadmap and other opportunities to engage in the process can be found here.


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