Legislative Update 5-3-24

County leaders, legislators discuss policy needs at 2024 conference

Keynoter Dr. Peter Cressy emphasized the need for leaders to be adaptable in times of crisis and change in his conference address. (Rod Sanford Photography)

“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” With these words from Winston Churchill, Dr. Peter Cressy concluded his keynote address to the 2024 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference on Tuesday in Lansing.

Cressy spoke to a filled conference hall at the event, which drew nearly 300 county leaders and others to Lansing this week.

Earlier on Tuesday, MAC honored its County Advocate Award winners for legislative work done in 2023.

Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) was lauded for championing Revenue Sharing Trust Fund legislation that would fulfill a longstanding MAC priority. Rep. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason) was honored for “commitment to preserving local control and championing legislation that helps counties provide services to the best of their abilities.”

During a legislative panel on Wednesday, attendees heard all four participants ― Sens. Aric Nesbitt and Jeremy Moss and Reps. John Fitzgerald and Graham Filler ― pledge support for “proper” revenue sharing, with Moss, Filler and Fitzgerald endorsing the trust fund reform effort.

National Association of Counties President Mary Jo McGuire of Ramsay County, Minnesota, not only delivered an address on her “ForwardTogether” initiative but spent two days with attendees making connections at receptions and presentations.

“We’re pleased at well everything came together,” said Executive Director Stephan Currie. “We had more than 30 legislators attend our reception on Tuesday evening, at a time when there were several other major events going on in Lansing. This shows the importance of counties at the state level.”

Materials from the conference’s Plenary sessions and 12 policy breakouts can be found at MAC’s website. In coming weeks, MAC also will be adding video segments from the event to its YouTube channel.

MAC’s next major educational event is the 2024 Policy Summit, to be held June 25 in Lansing and via zoom. Details and registration information should be released in mid-May.


FY25 state budget bills, with key trust fund, advance another step

Budget work continued in the Legislature this week with various spending bills gaining approval of each chamber’s full appropriations committee.

Click here to see a review of county spending issues from the April 26 Legislative Update.

A focus of MAC’s budget work right now is enactment of its Revenue Sharing Trust Fund proposal, as each chamber’s appropriators have now endorsed the concept, but with different provisions.

As detailed in this Issue Brief and by Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth at this week’s Legislative Conference, House and Senate appropriations panels want to set up a dedicated trust fund using a portion of state sales tax receipts. The Senate version would secure a larger slice than the House’s, yielding $52 million more for counties in FY25 alone.

To gain the higher amount, MAC is working with legislators to address how the budget handles a separate “public safety fund” pushed by House Democrats.

As budget work accelerates in advance of the Legislature’s June 30 deadline to finish its fiscal work, keep an eye out for MAC Advocacy Alerts so you can add your voice to MAC’s call for maximizing revenue sharing.

For more information on MAC’s budget advocacy, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.


Governor signs trial court funding extension 

A key part of funding for trial courts in Michigan is again secure for another 30 months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 5392 this week.

Extension of the ability of local judges to impose fees, this time to Dec. 31, 2026, was a MAC priority for the 2024 legislative year.

HB 5392, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), moved the extension of fee authority from May 1, 2024 to Dec. 31, 2026.

A related measure, House Bill 5534, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland), has not yet received a final vote of concurrence in the House. HB 5534 would require the State Court Administrative Office to complete data collection and turn over to the Legislature by May 1, 2026, for advancement towards implementing the 2019 Trial Court Funding Commission recommendations.

MAC supports HB 5534 and long has supported adoption of the funding commission’s recommendations.

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


Troubling election bills get Senate hearing

Election bills that would impose sweeping new duties on local governments received a hearing in a Senate committee this week. Known collectively as the “Michigan Voting Rights Act,” Senate Bills 401-404 were introduced to bolster federal law and voting rights in the state for members of a protected class and for disabled electors. While the intent is straightforward, the practical implementation would be complex and could expose locals to frivolous legal challenges.

Local governments will have an incalculable degree of legal liability. SB 401, by Sen. Darin Camilleri (D-Wayne), for example, prohibits a local government from impairing a protected class from participating in elections or the political process, but many of the listed impairments are beyond the control of a local government or conflict with Michigan election law.

The other major bill of concern is SB 403, by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Wayne), which mandates local governments must provide language assistance for elections. This includes providing translated signage, forms, ballots and a communication system that offers translation to electors. The local government will have to rely on the Secretary of State’s Office to produce these materials.

MAC opposed the bills when they were first introduced but is still working through the latest amendments. We will be meeting with bill sponsors and various stakeholders in the coming weeks in anticipation of further committee discussion.

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


Van Buren Commissioner Gail Patterson-Gladney receives her certificate from MAC President Jim Storey. (Rod Sanford Photography)

More than 60 commissioners graduate from MAC academy

MAC’s County Commissioner Academy (CCA) honored its largest graduating class ever during a Plenary session on Tuesday, April 30 at the 2024 Michigan Counties Legislative Conference.

Sixty-six county commissioners earned recognition as “certified” or “advanced.” Commissioners who attended the conference were presented their certificate by MAC President Jim Storey. Those who were unable to attend will be shipped their certificate.

Participants in CCA earn continuing education “hours” by attending designated events and workshops. “Certification” is offered at two different levels: “Certified” is reached at 10 hours, while “Advanced” is reached with 20 hours. In addition to MAC events, credit-qualified presentations also are offered by MSU Extension and the Michigan Department of Treasury.

For a full list of this year’s graduates and more information on the academy, click here.


MACSC provides $250 prizes to 2 lucky conference attendees

Commissioner Jeri Strong of Mecosta County and Administrator Katie Zeits of Benzie County were the winners of the MACSC Exhibitor Bingo drawing at the 2024 Legislative Conference on Wednesday, May 1.

Each received $250 after their completed bingo cards were drawn from a bowl by MAC President Jim Storey and Executive Director Stephan Currie.

In the last decade, MAC Service Corp. has issued more than $7,000 in cash prizes to attendees of MAC’s two major conferences each year.


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