Legislative Update 3-29-24

Lenawee commissioner explains beginnings of ballot campaign on energy sites

“This is strictly a question of who decides how to site these things, the (Michigan Public Service Commission) or local units of government.”

So explained Lenawee County Commissioner Kevon Martis about the ballot campaign he and other concerned citizens formed now to contest Public Act 233, the controversial state law adopted in 2023 on the siting of renewable energy facilities.

“Public Act 233 has really taken away any meaningful local control of wind, solar and battery storage regulation,” Martis explained to Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie in a new special episode. “We’ve taken the approach that people should have a vote on this, and we’re trying to place the repeal of that local zoning preemption on the ballot this November.”

Under the name “Citizens for Local Choice,” this group wants voters to have a chance to modify the law to protect local control.

“We introduced this as initiated legislation and that legislation targets only the local zoning preemption (in the law),” Martis explained. “We’re not touching any of the energy policy side of this.”

The group, of which MAC is now a part, needs 357,000 signatures by May 29 to meet its goal of reaching the November 2024 ballot.

“My strong recommendation to (Michigan’s county commissioners) is if each of you go out and collect one or two pages of signatures ― and each page has 12 signatures ― that will make a meaningful difference in our efforts,” Martis said.

View the full episode, recorded on March 22, by clicking here.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

And you always can find details about Podcast 83 on the MAC website.


Use new portal to help state direct broadband investments

The State Challenge Process is open for residents and businesses to test the quality of their high-speed internet. The $1.55 billion Michigan is set to receive through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program (BEAD) will go toward unserved and underserved locations. But, for the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) to determine which locations truly meet that criterion, people must participate in the challenge process.

The maps were initially built using data from internet service providers, state, and federal entities. The challenge process is meant to fact-check that data and ensure funds are being allocated accurately. The challenge began on March 25 and will run through April 23.

Residents are unable to submit challenge results directly to the state, however, Merit has generated a portal for this purpose. Merit is a nonprofit regional research and education network which will gather residential data from the portal and submit it to the state on behalf of individuals. Community leaders should refer their constituents to the Merit platform to participate in the challenge.

For more information on MAC’s advocacy on broadband, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.


MAC-backed bill to expand drug courts awaits House vote

Legislation to expand drug treatment court availability remains on the House floor, likely until a majority is reinstated after upcoming special elections in mid-April.

House Bill 4525, by Rep. Graham Filler (R-Clinton), would amend state law to allow certain offenders to be admitted to a drug treatment court with the approval of the judge, prosecutor and any known victim.

HB 4525 is part of a three-bill package, including HBs 4523 and 4524, by Reps. Kara Hope (D-Ingham) and Joey Andrews (D-Berrien), respectively. The package would expand the use of mental health and drug treatment courts, which are currently limited to nonviolent offenders, to include certain violent offenders ― but again only with approval from a judge and prosecutor and consent of any victim.

The bills were voted out of the Senate; however, they were sent back to the House, as they are required to provide a concurrence vote due to amendments made in the Senate. Despite prior approval in the House, HBs 4523 and 4525 failed to move, and likely will not receive another vote until later this spring.

MAC supports this legislation.

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


NACo webinar to give update on ‘elective pay’ under federal IRA

An April 16 webinar from the National Association of Counties is designed to answer county questions about the “elective pay” portion of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

On March 5, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) issued final regulations for the elective pay mechanism established in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Using elective pay, also known as direct pay, counties and other tax-exempt entities can monetize certain clean energy tax credits that they have previously been unable to access due to their lack of tax liability. Treasury also unveiled a new proposed rule to provide criteria regarding the eligibility of certain ownership structures to claim elective pay. During this webinar, counties will hear from Treasury and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on these new regulations and other funding opportunities available under IRA.

To register for the webinar on April 16, which will run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern, click here.


County efforts earn Hometown Health Hero awards

The Michigan Public Health Week Partnership, in which MAC participates, has named the recipients for its 2024 Hometown Health Hero awards.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the award, which is presented to individuals and/or organizations that have made significant and measurable contributions to preserve and improve their community’s health. Awardees are selected solely from nominations received. 

Washtenaw County’s Community Voices for Health Equity will receive one of 10 awards this year.

Honorable Mentions will be awarded to:

  • Ottawa County Migrant Health Task Force
  • Kathy Moore, Muskegon County health officer
  • Oakland County Health Division, Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • Cass County Medical Care Facility
  • Women of Ottawa County Health Department

All the awards will be presented on April 10 at 11:30 a.m. in the Atrium of Heritage Hall in the State Capitol. The event is open to the public. The event is held during Michigan Public Health Week, whose theme this year is f “Protecting, Connecting and Thriving: We Are All Public Health.”


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