Legislative Update 11-3-23

House passes Revenue Sharing Trust Fund Bills – Senate needs to act NOW

In a promising development for Michigan’s counties, the state’s Revenue Sharing Trust Fund (RSTF) bills have passed the House this week with overwhelming bipartisan support.  By a vote of 106-4, HB 4274 sponsored by Rep. O’Neal (D-Saginaw) and HB 4275 sponsored by Rep. Tisdel (R-Oakland) now advance to the Senate for consideration.  The timing of Senate action on these bills is critical.  Without a vote in the Senate this week the bills will not go into effect before the next budget cycle.

It is imperative that county commissioners contact their Senators and urge them to vote on the bills that are now in the Senate. 

These bills, if enacted would:

Create a separate “Revenue Sharing Trust Fund” to receive and hold dollars solely for the purpose of fulfilling the state’s promise to local governments on revenue sharing;

Require that 8 percent of the revenue generated by 4 percentage points of the state’s sales tax rate; and

Result in $601.1 million in statutory revenue sharing for all local governments across Michigan based on the May Consensus Revenue Estimate for sales tax. 

Counties would receive 46.14 percent of this total in the first year, $277 million, which would be an increase of nearly $31 million from the current total.

MAC has long sought to create stability and fairness in the revenue sharing system by removing the statutory portion of it from the annual appropriations process and by designating a steady revenue source.  For more information on this issue, please contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org

House passes solar siting legislation

Legislation to preempt local control and grant siting authority for renewable energy facilities to the Public Service Commission (PSC) advanced with some major changes. Following two, twelve-hour session days and more than twenty amendments, House Bill 5120 by Rep. Aiyash (D-Wayne) passed the House just after midnight on Thursday along party lines.

The new amendments require a developer to go through a local unit of government first if the local unit has a “compatible renewable energy ordinance.” The local unit will then have 120 days to either approve or deny the project. If the local unit denies or fails to act on the proposal, then it is escalated to the PSC for review. This applies to all solar projects with a nameplate capacity greater than 50 megawatts, and all wind projects greater than 100 megawatts. 

MAC opposes the new provisions because they give the illusion of local control without providing any real authority. There is virtually no room to tailor an ordinance to the wants and needs of a community under this plan. A renewable energy ordinance is not considered compatible if the requirements are any more restrictive than outlined in the bill. Additionally, counties will be unable to amend their renewable energy ordinances or pass temporary moratoriums for any reason, or the projects will automatically go to the PSC.

Other amendments include a $2,000 per megawatt payment from the energy facility owner to the local unit to be used for police, fire, public safety, or other infrastructure, but it remains unclear if that means the city, village, township, or county.

MAC will continue to fight this legislation in the Senate. The language was drafted quickly and behind closed doors without proper stakeholder input, and is deeply flawed. Session is expected to adjourn next Thursday, November 9, meaning there are just three session days left for the Senate to approve this legislation and get it to the governor’s desk for signature.

For more information, please contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org 

House approves court reporter fee increase legislation

A bill to increase court reporter and recorder fees was approved on the House floor this week with bipartisan support.

Amendments made to House Bill 5046 by the Criminal Justice Committee to address concerns about “double dipping” with county-employed court reporters or recorders producing transcripts have shifted MAC from opposition to support of the legislation.

Sponsored by Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Macomb), the bill would increase the amount a court reporter or recorder would receive from $1.75 to $3.75 per page on an original transcript, and 90 cents per page for each copy.

The amendments include updates to what the county and court reporters or recorders shall provide in the capture and production of transcripts, and the prioritization of court-funded transcripts and transcripts produced on county time.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

Medication Aide legislation passed by House

A package to create medication aide registration and permits, supported by the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC), was approved by the House this week.

House Bills 4885 and 4923, sponsored by Reps. Donavan McKinney (D-Wayne) and Joseph Aragona (R-Macomb), respectively, would allow for the training and registration of medication aides, similar to conditions for registration and training for nurse aides, commonly referred to as certified nurse aides, or CNAs.

These bills will address staffing shortages within county medical care facilities, likely increase retention and recruitment for nurses, nurse aides, and medication aides, as well as reduce overall errors by freeing up nurses within facilities.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

Senate committee approves additional judgeships in Kent and Macomb counties

New judgeships could soon exist in Kent and Macomb counties after the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee passed House Bills 4823 and 4920, by Rep. Doug Wozniak (R-Macomb) and Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Kent), respectively. HB 4823 would add a probate court judge in Macomb County, while HB 4920 would add a district judge in Kent County.

The Macomb Probate Court now has two probate judges, so HB 4823 would add a third slot. HB 4920 would add a judge to the 63rd District Court in Kent County. However, the Kent seat would still need approval from the Kent County Board of Commissioners, even after any legislation is signed into state law. After approval from the Board of Commissioners, an election would have to be held in 2024 to elect a new judge.

MAC supports this legislation.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

County-opposed staffing bill gets House committee approval

A bill to require minimum staffing levels as a mandatory subject of collective bargaining between a public employer and the representative of its employees was approved by the House Labor Committee this week.

House Bill 4688, by Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Calhoun), would amend the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) and specifies that “other terms and conditions of employment” would include minimum staffing levels within the bargaining unit and consider minimum staffing levels a condition of employment with respect to a bargaining representative’s collective bargaining responsibilities. The version voted onto the House floor included an amendment that would limit its application to only Public Act 312 employees, which was recently expanded to include corrections officers.

Making minimum staffing levels a mandatory topic of collective bargaining could increase staffing costs to counties. In addition to the potential for increased costs, many counties are facing staffing shortages. Implementing minimum staffing requirements when local governments are struggling to maintain fully staffed facilities will add to the difficulties counties already face when recruiting and retaining employees.

MAC opposes this legislation.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

Liability concerns for counties raised in sexual conduct package

Legislation to alter the statute of limitations on criminal sexual conduct and sexual misconduct was approved this week by the House Committee on Criminal Justice.

Previously opposed by MAC due to the potential for broad, unintended consequences for counties, House Bills 4482–4487 affect private employers and educational institutions. House Bill 4486, by Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Wayne), in particular, previously affected local governments, however, the version approved in committee removed liability for governmental agencies. The bill now only holds public school districts, colleges, and universities liable.

MAC no longer has a position on this legislation, as counties will not be impacted under the most recent version of the bill.

For more information on this issue, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

‘Fiscally Ready Communities’ webinar rescheduled for Nov. 13

A free webinar for local officials focused on fees, fines, purchasing and receipting has been rescheduled to Nov 13. from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST.

The Michigan Department of Treasury and Michigan State University Extension co-host the “Fiscally Ready Communities” webinars to assist appointed and elected officials.

“Building a culture of fiscal sustainability is essential to local government fiscal health. Well-thought-out policies on fees, fines, purchasing and receipting lead to clear rules and fair treatment, which are essential pillars to that culture of fiscal sustainability. This webinar will include a deep dive into best practices related to fees, fines, purchasing, receipting, and more. It will cover what they are, why such policies are necessary, how they contribute to local fiscal health, and how to get started on implementation.”

Building a culture of fiscal sustainability, best practices and case study examples will be featured.

To register, click here.

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