Legislative Update 2-14-20


MAC Participates in Michigan High Water Coordinating Summit

The Department of Energy, Great Lakes and Environment (EGLE) held a summit this week to discuss the weather trends and the devastating issues facing our State to record high lake levels and ground saturation. The summit included representatives from:

  • EGLE
  • Michigan Department of Transportation
  • Michigan Department of Agriculture
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  • Michigan State Police
  • US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE)
  • National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Michigan Emergency Managers Association
  • Michigan Association of Counties
  • Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners
  • Michigan Townships Association
  • Michigan Municipal League
  • US Coast Guard

Presentations by the USACE and the NWS provided the group with startling information: the Great Lakes are experiencing the highest precipitation on record and has measured more than 30 inches above the average; record lake levels are expected for Lake Michigan and Lake Huron for the spring and summer of 2020; there has been a record rate of rise in lake levels from January 2013 to January 2015; Lake Michigan alone is up 5.5 feet since 2013 and it is forecasted to go up another 12 – 18 inches by July 2020.  In addition, inland lakes are saturated as is the ground. With the culmination of shoreline erosion, inland lake flooding, and failing septic systems, Michigan is facing serious challenges in protecting homes from falling into lakes, infrastructure being destroyed, and environmental impacts of failing wastewater systems. 

EGLE has been working diligently to issue permits for temporary structures to protect homes and other property from falling into Lake Michigan. The average turnaround for permits is 14 days at this point. The department has prioritized permit processing based on the urgency of the matter and the health and safety of the residents in the area. 

Because no one can prevent the rising water levels, the summit focused the afternoon on modeling differnet scenarios, identifying risks to the community, and discussing which resources would be needed to respond to the events. Additionally, the summit focused on identifying some of the barriers to action and remediation. 

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

 

Trial court funding sunset extension introduced 

Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson) introduced House Bill 5488 to extend the sunset allowing courts to impose reasonable court costs. Under current law, the assessment of these costs would expire Oct. 17, 2020. The bill would extend that date until Oct. 1, 2023. MAC supports HB 5488.

As most are aware, the Michigan Supreme Court, in the Cunningham ruling of 2014, said trial courts lacked clear statutory authority to levy fees and costs on defendants to help ensure operating cost. Understanding the huge gaps this could cause in court budgets, MAC supported the passage of legislation to restore fee authority and to extend that authority through Oct. 2020.

Additionally, in 2017, the Trial Court Funding Commission was established through law, and the work of the Commission ended in Sept. 2019. The Commission recommended five reforms including: 

  • Establishing a stable court funding system, creating a dedicated trial court fund and ensuring more equitable funding across courts
  • Using state-funded court technology to create a uniform and cohesive system
  • Establishing uniform assessments and centralized collections to free court personnel from non-court operations
  • Moving toward a uniform employment system to streamline organizational structure so court operations are less reliant on local finances
  • Creating a task force to implement short- and long-term policy goals

MAC expects legislation to also be introduced this year related to some of these recommendations. The report identifies short and long-term implementation plans so it is anticipated changes will be phased-in over a number of years.  

For further information, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

Opioid briefing this month for local officials 

The Michigan Opioids Task Force and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is hosting a briefing on the state’s opioid crisis response for local government officials.

This briefing is intended for officials who are leading opioids crisis response for a region, county, or locality in Michigan. A range of organizational structures can play this role, from a regional coalition or consortium to a county-level task force to municipal-level planning efforts. These organizations may be led by the local health department or Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan, by the offices of elected officials, by non-profits, or by many others.

Please participate or pass the information along to other potential attendees leading efforts in your county.

The briefing will take place on February 27th from 3 – 4 pm via video conference and will be led by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chair of the Michigan Opioids Task Force and Chief Deputy for Health at MDHHS.

To attend, please register at the following link and MDHHS will send you a calendar invitation: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LBZKGCM

Questions can be directed to MDHHS-OpioidsTaskForce@michigan.gov.

 

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