Legislative Update 12-22-21
Bills for 4-year terms signed into law
Starting in 2024, candidates in Michigan for county commissioner will run for 4-year terms, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed new term legislation: Public Acts 121-122 of 2021.
The largest change affecting county commissioners since 1968 is the result of Senate Bill 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland).
Since 1968, voters in Michigan have elected county commissioners to two-year terms from geographic districts. Michigan has been one of only five states that has required two-year terms for all commissioners, even though all other elected county offices have four-year terms.
“We are immensely pleased to end 2021 on such a high note,” said MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie. “Creating equality in terms for commissioners has been a MAC goal for many years; I’m so proud of our advocacy team for their work on this, ably assisted by MAC Board directors and members.”
Federal court clears way for vaccine mandate; legal advice is ‘plan’
A Biden administration rule that requires workers at companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against COVID or undergo weekly testing was restored last Friday via a decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The rule was blocked on Nov. 6, just one day after it was formally issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Counties are advised to begin or continue planning with their legal counsel to comply with the restored rule, MAC was told by the firm of Cohl, Stoker & Toskey.
“Michigan as a State Plan has not yet adopted the OSHA ETS, as is required for it to be effective in Michigan,” the firm noted. “It is also our understanding that OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before Jan. 10, 2022, and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before Feb. 9, 2022, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. Further, the lifting of the stay of enforcement (by a 2-1 majority of the Sixth Circuit panel) is not a ruling on the merits of the case. Finally, several states intend to seek further relief from the U.S. Supreme Court, which could be forthcoming very soon by a sole justice (Kavanaugh for the 6th Circuit) or by the whole court.”
In addition to the vaccine and testing requirements, the rule requires companies to determine who among their workers are vaccinated and who are not, and to enforce a mask mandate for unvaccinated workers.
Governor signs bill to continue 9-1-1 funding
Ticking off another item on MAC’s legislative priorities for 2021, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 5026 into law. The bill amends the Emergency 9-1-1-Service Enabling Act to continue funding until Dec. 31, 2027. The bill will also streamline 9-1-1 system capabilities, increase the prepaid wireless 9-1-1 surcharge and make other changes to improve the 9-1-1 system.
“Maintaining and expanding public safety is a responsibility of our government,” said Whitmer in a statement. “When an emergency occurs, our state’s first responders are ready to take action. Funding our state’s critical 9-1-1 services is necessary to equip our state in times of need.”
House Bill 5026, now Public Act 126, was sponsored by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia), and a copy can be found here.
MAC thanks the Legislature and governor for passing and enacting this bill before the 2021 year-end deadline to continue 9-1-1 funding.
Treasury releases FY22 actuarial information for counties
Actuarial assumptions for local governments with defined benefit plans were released this week by the Michigan Department of Treasury.
“A key component of the Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act (Public Act 202 of 2017) requires the State Treasurer to annually establish uniform actuarial assumptions for local governments in Michigan who offer a defined benefit retirement system(s) (pension or retirement health care),” Treasury said in a statement.
Fiscal Year 2022 Uniform Assumptions
This document provides the rationale for how the assumptions are determined, as well as a table that provides a summary of the relevant changes.
Additionally, the Michigan Department of Treasury has developed a webpage with numbered letters, memorandums, webinars, and resources regarding COVID-19 updates for local governments and school districts. This webpage was created to ensure that Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance and is updated frequently with information and resources as they become available.