Legislative Update 5-12-23

Revenue sharing boost, other county priorities clear another budget hurdle

This week, the full House and Senate approved their fiscal 2024 budgets along party-line votes. Current plans include significant state investments for counties in a variety of areas. There are some key differences in House and Senate versions, however, which must now be resolved in joint conference committees. (To see the full text of any budget bill, click here and search by the bill number.)

Revenue sharing

House Bill 4292:

  • 17 percent hike in revenue sharing, divided into several segments:
    • 5 percentage points would be ongoing and for general use
    • 5 percentage points would be a one-time appropriation for general use
    • 2 percentage points would be ongoing and restricted to public safety uses
    • 5 percentage points would be a one-time appropriation restricted to public safety uses

These changes would place FY24 revenue sharing at more than $285 million.

Senate Bill 189:

  • Includes the same ongoing and one-time boosts for general use as HB 4292
  • Does not include additional funding for public safety
  • Ends the County Incentive Program and its requirements for the annual submission of verification of the posting of budgets online and the publication of citizens guides
  • Allows access to any unallocated funds from a $750 million appropriation for municipal pension assistance for use as grants for local governments with OPEB obligations funded at 7 percent or less
  • Adds a new program within the Department of Attorney General to assist communities with high crime, allocating $10 million and 45 full-time positions

The Senate plan would place FY24 revenue sharing at $269 million.

Health and human services

House Bill 4310:

  • Direct care wage increase
    • $2.35/hour and $140 million for an additional $1/hour increase on a one-time basis
  • Child Care Fund (community-based state reimbursement)
    • $31.5 million to implement a recommendation from the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform
    • Statutorily increases the state Child Care Fund Reimbursement rate from 50 percent to 75 percent for community-based juvenile justice services
  • Foster Family Maintenance Payment Increase
    • $12 million to fund a 5 percent increase to daily payments
  • Behavioral Health Recruiting and Retention (one-time)
    • $5 million for recruitment and retention programs for behavioral health professionals (using federal coronavirus state fiscal recovery funds)
  • Medicaid Mental Health Local Match
    • $5 million to replace a like amount of local funding used for Medicaid mental health supports and services (This amount reflects the fourth year of phasing out to the local match portion over a five-year period.)
  • Essential Local Public Health Services Increase
    • $14 million to support an estimated 50 percent of the costs of essential local public health services
  • Court-operated facility construction
    • $25 million to construct a 32-bed court operated facility in northern Michigan for youth involved in the court system

Senate Bill 190:

  • Direct care worker wage increases
    • 65 cents per hour increase in direct care worker wages
    • $3 per hour increase to non-direct care staff at long-term care facilities
  • Child Care Fund reimbursement rates
    • $31.5 million for increase to 75 percent in Child Care Fund for community-based services
  • Support for state share of Essential Local Public Health Services
    • $30 million for local health departments, ongoing support for essential local public health services
Public safety

House Bill 4280:

  • Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Grants
    • $57.2 million for Standard 8 (Standard 8 pertains to economic disincentives and incentives, including rates of payment for salaried public defenders, compensation and expenses for assigned counsel, contracting for indigent defense services, conflict counsel, reimbursements and payments.)

Senate Bill 195:

  • Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Grants
    • $30 million for Standard 8

Transportation

House Bill 4309:

  • $6.81 billion in total funding
  • Adds $400 million for local road preservation, which would be distributed to local road agencies based on population
    • This is in addition to Public Act 51 dollars
  • $100 placeholder for bridge bundling program
  • $75 million in local bus operating investments
  • $33 million for rail grade separation

Senate Bill 178:

  • $6.83 billion in total funding
  • $150 million for bridge bundling program
  • $100 million for Intermodal Capital Investment Grant Program
  • $150 million for local road funding projects for the largest six counties in Michigan, distributed by population
    • This is in addition to Public Act 51 dollars
  • $100 million for critical infrastructure projects
  • $100 million for high-speed rail
  • $50 million for a rail grade separation project in Trenton

Environment

House Bill 4249:

  • $1.45 billion in total spending ($395.5 million is General Fund)
  • $110 million in General Fund for replacing lead service lines and providing technical assistance to communities, supplemented by $100 million in one-time federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund dollars
  • $40 million for grants to communities to establish wind, solar and energy storage facilities
  • $20 million for dam safety and risk reduction

Senate Bill 199:

  • $1.08 billion in total spending ($334.2 million is General Fund)
  • $100 million for replacing lead service lines and providing technical assistance to communities
  • $25 million for environmental justice and contaminated site clean-up
  • $25 million for dam safety and risk reduction

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) is scheduled for Friday, May 19 to set final resource numbers for FY24. After CREC, conference committees will be held. Final budget numbers are yet to be determined.

For more information on the budget, contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org, Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org or Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

MAC-opposed mining regulation bill still in committee

A House committee on Tuesday deferred action on legislation that attacks local control after local governments and residents delivered thoughtful testimony to keep aggregate zoning authority out of the hands of the state.

MAC appreciates the support of members who have used our digital advocacy tool in recent days to send messages of opposition to House Bills 4526-28.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee held a two-hour session Tuesday on the bills, which aim to eliminate local control of sand and gravel mining operations and grant regulating authority to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

Aggregate and construction industries argued in favor of the bills, based largely on how much money could be saved by placing the permitting power in the hands of the state and the inconvenience of having to deal with townships and public input.

EGLE has not taken a position, but department officials noted the department currently oversees just eight active mining permits and are uncertain how many more would fall under their purview should this legislation pass. The speakers were also unclear on the number of full-time employees they would need to run the program.

The Michigan Townships Association (MTA) and Michigan Municipal League (MML) spoke strongly in opposition to the legislation. In its testimony, MTA disproved several claims made by proponents, including one that 37 of its members had delayed, denied or disrupted the permitting process. In reality, MTA noted, these townships had simply hired attorneys to help review the proposals.

Though MAC did not testify, the association remains opposed to the legislation, as it would set a dangerous precedent on preemption of local control in other policy areas.

While the committee took no action on the bills this week, it will resume its review on May 16. MAC urges members to use our digital advocacy tool to send a message of opposition to their members of the Michigan House without delay.

For more information on this issue, contact Madeline Fata at fata@micounties.org.

 

Local control under multiple attacks under Capitol dome

In the newest episode of MAC’s Podcast 83, host Stephan Currie and the MAC Governmental Affairs Team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson catch up on legislative activity, particularly the following:

  • Attack on local control, part I (mining): House Bills 4526-28 would gut the principle of local control in a bid to make it easier to site gravel and sand pits around Michigan.
  • Attack on local control, part II (labor): House Bill 4438 would extend binding arbitration to county correctional officers, thereby transferring decisions on county staffing and budget matters to unaccountable third parties.

MAC is asking members to use our digital advocacy tool to send messages of opposition to both legislative attacks as soon as possible.

However, those bills, and potentially every other legislative initiative, could be halted in a matter of weeks due to political gamesmanship in Lansing and the action of “sine die.”

As Bosworth explained, the narrow Democratic majorities in the House and Senate lack the votes on their own to give the fiscal year 2024 budget immediate effect to ensure the fiscal plan starts with the beginning of the state’s budget year on Oct. 1. The talk in Lansing is Senate Republicans will refuse to allow immediate effect, thereby forcing the effective date of state spending bills 90 days beyond Oct. 1, a fiscal crisis.

To avert this, Democrats are looking at “sine die.” To learn more, see the full video, taped on May 8, 2023.

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

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

 

Federal mandate could worsen medical care facility staffing crisis

An expected federal staffing mandate for nursing facilities could hurt medical care facilities (MCFs) that already are dealing with staffing shortages.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, federal law requires Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes to provide 24-hour licensed services, with a registered professional nurse used at least eight hours per day, seven days a week.

There is potential for the federal government to implement increased staffing requirements. Penalties for not meeting likely mandated staffing ratios will be detrimental to facilities that are already struggling to recruit qualified staff.

Michigan, though, already is facing a loss of about 10,000 nursing facility employees, or 17 percent of Michigan’s long-term care workforce, says the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM).

MAC and the Michigan Counties Medical Care Facilities Council, which represents the county MCFs, will continue to watch for federal mandates pertaining to increased staffing ratios and any potential penalties for not being able to meet such standards.

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

 

Save taxes and trees by enrolling in MDARD’s Qualified Forest Program

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Qualified Forest Program (QFP) is now accepting applications for the 2024 tax year with applications being due no later 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023.

“MDARD’s Qualified Forest Program is designed to encourage Michigan’s landowners to actively manage their privately owned forests for commercial harvest, wildlife habitat enhancement, and improvement of other forest resources,” said Jim Johnson, Director of MDARD’s Environmental Stewardship Division “The program provides two potential tax benefits for enrolled landowners in exchange for managing their forests in a sustainable fashion.”

The two possible benefits which helps save landowners on property taxes are:

  • School Tax Affidavit —Authorizes an exemption from the local school operation millage up to 18 mills of school operating taxes a year. The exemption only applies to land value.
  • Taxable Value Affidavit—Keeps the previous owner’s property taxable value from uncapping on enrolled land after a transfer of ownership.

Requirements for the program:

  • Parcels must be 20 acres or larger to qualify
  • A forest management plan must be written by a qualified forester
  • Buildings and structures are allowed, but are not eligible for exemption
  • Enrolled landowners must pay an annual fee; public access is not required

For parcels less than 40 acres, no less than 80 percent of that parcel must be stocked with productive forest. For parcels of 40 acres or more, at least 50 percent must be stocked with productive forest.

To apply, landowners are required to submit a QFP Application form, QFP Stand Summary and Harvest Schedule, copy of the most recent deed and/or land contract, copy of a tax bill(s), $50 application fee, and forest management plan.

To get started with the Qualified Forest Program or for more information, visit the www.Michigan.gov/QFP, call 517-284-5630, or reach out to your local conservation district.

 

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