Legislative Update 6-16-23

County voices needed to push revenue sharing reform over finish line

A long-running effort to create a dedicated source of dollars for local revenue sharing is nearing fruition, but MAC needs your voice to help us push the Legislature to final enactment.

This plan, developed by MAC in concert with local governments, would:

  • Create a separate “Revenue Sharing Trust Fund” to receive and hold dollars solely for the purpose of fulfilling the state’s promise to local governments on revenue sharing;
  • Require that 8 percent of the revenue generated by 4 percentage points of the state’s sales tax rate go into the fund; and
  • Result in $591 million in statutory revenue sharing for all local governments across Michigan.

Counties would receive 46.14 percent of this total in the first year, $273 million, which would be an increase of nearly $27 million from the current total.

The plan also includes a one-time public safety investment of nearly $22 million, of which counties would get $10 million.

MAC has long sought to create stability and fairness in the revenue sharing system by removing the statutory portion of it from the annual appropriations process and by designating a steady revenue source.

By using a portion of the sales tax for a dedicated fund, this proposal meets both those key goals, and it allows for sure, steady growth in funding as long as sales tax collections remain consistently healthy.

These reforms are incorporated into two sets of bills, House Bills 427475 and Senate Bills 229230. Using the link below, please send your message of support for these measures to your legislators TODAY!

Click here to send your message of support.

 

MAC, allies continue to stave off attack on local control

Legislation that would attack the principle of local control remains bottled up in a House committee this week in the face of fierce opposition by MAC and others.

House Bills 4526-28 would eliminate local regulation of sand and gravel mining operations and were given a second hearing in the House Regulatory Reform Committee, this time to consider changes catering to requests from state officials.

Following the first committee hearing in May, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) submitted a list of recommendations to bill sponsors, the majority of which were incorporated in the version before the committee this week. EGLE remains neutral on the package, however. although the changes were designed to make it easier for the department to administer the new program.

MAC remains opposed to HBs 4526-28, as locals have largely been excluded from negotiations and their needs have not been considered by bill sponsors.

The aggregate and construction industry will continue to advocate for these bills, although it remains unclear when they will be voted out of committee and brought to the House floor for consideration.

If you haven’t done so yet, please use MAC’s digital Advocacy Center to send an email of opposition to your state representative.

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

 

Election reform implementation advances in Legislature

Legislation implementing Proposal 2 of 2022, effectively overhauling Michigan’s election system, has advanced. Senate Bills 367-374 and House Bills 4695-4702 were introduced last week to codify changes that 60 percent of Michigan voters supported last November, including at least nine days of early voting. Both bill packages passed their respective chambers on Wednesday.

The Senate package, led by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), passed 22-16, while the House version, led by Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-Ingham), was approved 56-53.

Aside from early voting, the package includes measures for being added to the permanent absent voter list, prepaid postage for absent voter ballots, expanding access to ballot drop boxes and increasing precinct sizes.

MAC supported SB 367 and HB 4695 in committees on Tuesday, both allowing municipal clerks to jointly conduct elections with other municipalities or with their county clerk. Pooling staff and other resources can make elections more efficient and cost effective given the new circumstances.

MAC also supported SB 372, by Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Wayne), and HB 4697, Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Wayne), which require each municipality to have at least one absent voter drop box per 15,000 registered electors. The state will be responsible for supplying and installing these drop boxes. MAC did not take a position on the remaining bills in each package.

It remains unclear how much funding will be allocated for implementing the changes. Appropriations subcommittee chairs received their final targets this week and fiscal year 2024 budget negotiations are ongoing. We anticipate the final version of the budget later this month.

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

 

Justice commission bills pass without county representation

As a funding unit and key administrative piece of local criminal justice, counties should have representation on a state commission to study criminal justice reform.

This week, however, the House passed House Bills 4173 and 4384, by Reps. Abraham Aiyash (D-Wayne) and Luke Meerman (R-Ottawa) respectively, and the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bills 376 and 377, by Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Wayne) and Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson) respectively, that would create a state panel to study that issue that excludes county commissioner membership.

The packages are identical, with the intent to create a Criminal Justice Policy Commission and detail who will serve on it. Under the original version of HB 4173, MAC was to submit a list of three names and one of the submitted names would be selected by the governor to serve on the commission. MAC had a member on a previous commission that operated from 2015 to 2019.

However, the current version of HB 4173, and the Senate package, do not include a MAC representative on the commission. Therefore, MAC is opposing HB 4173 and SB 376.

Given a county’s role as the funding unit, and its fiduciary responsibilities to jails, sheriff’s offices and prosecutor’s offices, it is imperative that counties have a voice, MAC Governmental Affairs Associate Samantha Gibson testified last week.

In SB 377 and HB 4384, the commission would be tasked with submitting a prison and jail impact report relating to any modifications to sentencing guidelines, including any impact on state and local correctional facilities. There are also indirect costs associated with the bills, depending on decisions made by the commission. Costs could increase or decrease, depending on changes made to sentencing guidelines. The potential for financial burdens imposed by the state onto county jails is of great concern to MAC. A county voice is crucial on the commission.

Despite the current refusal from legislators to include county commissioners on the commission, MAC will continue to press for such representation.

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

 

Governmental immunity concerns, budget news featured in podcast

The Democratic majority in the Legislature moves another step closer to an FY24 state budget, a huge package of election bills have been filed and counties need to be worried about new legislation stemming out of the Nassar scandal at Michigan State University, the Podcast 83 team noted in a new episode.

Director of Governmental Affairs Deena Bosworth, sitting in as host for Executive Director Stephen Currie, led MAC’s Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson through all the events in Lansing over the last week. This includes:

  • Governmental immunity: MAC is opposing House Bill 4486, part of a large package to alter the statute of limitations on criminal sexual conduct and sexual misconduct, because it holds local governments and other public entities to higher standards for employee reviews than other employers, Gibson explained. Under HB 4486, county boards of commissioners would be held liable for the hiring decisions of other countywide elected officials, despite having no direct involvement in these hiring decisions.
  • Elections: Fata provided an overview of House and Senate packages written to implement the early voting and other provisions adopted by Michigan voters via Proposal 2 last fall. Not surprisingly, the sticking point is money, specifically what the state is going to do to aid county and local clerks with new requirements.
  • Criminal Justice Policy Commission: Gibson explained the current version of the enabling legislation still leaves county boards out.
  • State budget: After closed-door negotiations, Democratic appropriators have their spending “targets” to complete the fiscal 2024 state budget, Bosworth reported. If expected plans materialize, counties would see a substantial increase in revenue sharing for the coming year.

View the full video of the episode, recorded on June 12, 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.

 

MAC to observe Juneteenth holiday on Monday

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Monday, June 19 to observe the Juneteenth holiday.

The Legislature voted this week to make Juneteenth a state holiday in wake of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issuing a proclamation in 2022 for a Juneteenth holiday for state and court employees.

MAC’s offices will reopen on Tuesday, June 20 at 8 a.m.

 

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