Legislative Update 6-7-24

MAC extends support to huge economic development package

MAC gave its support this week at the State Capitol to legislation to revamp state economic development spending.

Senate Bills 559, by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland) and 562, by Mary Cavanaugh (D-Wayne) would amend the Michigan Strategic Fund Act and the Michigan Trust Fund Act to alter how the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund works.

The Make it in Michigan Fund would have a new program, “Michigan 360,” which would dedicate funds for local housing, infrastructure, regional transit, job training, business assistance and child care development. The state’s current development programs, which traditionally have focused on winning large corporate investments, have been criticized in recent years because the return on investment was unclear and because they failed to recognize the needs of the communities the companies were going in to. 

In a House committee hearing this week, the bill sponsors and advocates stressed the need to attract talent and provide attractive and functional places for this talent the businesses need to thrive. SB 559 allows for investment directly into the communities where businesses would be located. Advocates argue that business attraction requires more than just financial incentive, they need available talent, transit, housing, education and child care to attract such talent.

SB 562 requires that 50 percent of the money deposited into the Make it in Michigan Fund be allocated for “Michigan 360.”

For the $750 million anticipated to be in “Michigan 360,” eligible applicants would include counties, cities and townships, education institutions, nonprofits, local economic development corporations and the land bank fast track authority.

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


MAC leaders to study $2B transport trust fund proposal

A $6 billion economic development package with a focus on public transit was unveiled before a House panel this week.

House Bill 5770, by Rep. Mike McFall (D-Oakland), creates the Michigan Mobility Trust Fund, dedicating $2 billion ($200 million per year for 10 years) toward public transportation and “transformational mobility projects.” The funding comes from a reconfiguration of the governor’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve, or SOAR fund, with revenue being generated by corporate income tax. The other $4 billion in the package will go toward housing, placemaking, and traditional economic development incentives for attracting businesses.

Local governments and transit authorities will be eligible to receive funding for a variety of projects. The intent is to promote economic development by attracting talent and businesses to areas with robust public transportation networks.

In the past, 100 percent of SOAR funding went directly toward big businesses. This new distribution and the creation of the Mobility Trust Fund will benefit local governments more directly and could shape communities in a more tangible way, advocates argue.

MAC has not taken a position on the package, but it will be reviewed at the next meeting of MAC’s Transportation Policy Committee.

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


Judicial protection legislation concerns county registers of deeds

County departments may need to conceal judge’s personal information under proposed legislation. House Bill 5724, by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland), would allow a judge to request their personal information, including street address, phone number, and tax id number, be shielded from the public.

This bill would codify federal legislation at the state level. The initial legislation was crafted in response to the 2020 murder of federal Judge Esther Salas’ son at their family home. Judge Salas testified virtually at the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Judges often determine the fate of a person’s life or family, making them targets for disgruntled defendants or attorneys.

Under HB 5724, a judge would need to submit a written request to a public body to prevent disclosure of or remove a public posting or display of certain personal identifying information. Should a public body fail to comply, the judge could commence a civil action to compel compliance. The Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds testified to the technical complications of implementing such legislation. Breen, serving as both bill sponsor and chair of the committee, expressed a willingness to work on amendments so it is more practical for public bodies to adhere to.

MAC has not taken a position on the legislation but will continue to track its movement.

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


Podcast 83: Back from island, Legislature still has budget to finish

With legislative activity largely squelched last week due to the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, lawmakers return to Lansing this week with lots of budget and policy matters still on their plate.

Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie discussed with guests Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson what the next “20 to 30 days” will look like at the State Capitol in the latest episode of Podcast 83.

Budgets/revenue sharing

“We are waiting for them to finalize each and every one of their budgets,” Bosworth said, including those that affect MAC’s proposal for a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund.

Negotiations continue over the differing approaches taken by the House and Senate, with MAC strongly favoring the Senate approach, which would mean a $52 million boost in the first year for counties, Bosworth explained.

County hiring rules

“At a Senate Local Government Committee meeting tomorrow, they’re going to take up House Bill 5203,” Bosworth said. MAC is backing an amendment to expand the bill’s provisions to allow any county department, not just sheriffs, to rehire retirees without the retiree’s benefits being jeopardized. “We know how hard it is for county government right now to hire. And sometimes you need that expertise in different departments to come back and help teach new generations of employees. So we’re hopeful that that gets moved to the process this week.”

Medicaid coverage for jail inmates

“Something we’ve talked about at length at the policy summit last December and on this podcast is the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy,” said Gibson. “The (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) is in the process of applying for what’s called the Section 1115 Re-entry Waiver, which would allow county jail inmates, juvenile detention, detainees and then also MDOC inmates to have their uninsured health care costs covered; they would have otherwise been eligible for Medicaid upon incarceration, but you’re no longer eligible, which as we know, is incredibly costly to counties. MDHHS is in the third step of their six-step process towards applying and implementing the waiver approval. … So they’re chugging along, And there’s that $30.5 million proposal in the governor’s and House’s budget plans to cover the uninsured costs of jail inmates.”

Voting regulations

“Something kind of bigger that I do anticipate movement before they break for the summer is Michigan Voting Rights Act package. We’ve had some stakeholder meetings with the Senate policy team, and we received new drafts just this morning (June 3). So I do believe that they’ll leave the Senate Elections Committee before they break, which is good news,” Fata said.

Those bills are meant to codify the federal Voting Rights Act, but the way they were initially written puts a massive burden on our local clerks. And it could potentially expose local governments to some legal challenges and lawsuits. But in stakeholder meetings, I think we’ve made some great progress to mirror the federal act more closely. So, we’ve made some progress, and we have to review those drafts more closely. We’ll keep you posted on some movement.”

Energy siting law

With the pivot of the ballot group Citizens for Local Choice from the 2024 ballot to the 2026 one, counties need to start working on complying with the state law passed in 2023 that encroaches deeply on local control on renewable energy locations:

“For those counties who do handle zoning, if you were holding out hope that this would be successful, unfortunately, come November of this year, that law takes effect,” said Fata. “So, you will need to get your plans in order. Sarah Mills and Madeleine Krol from the University of Michigan have put together an excellent article that will be in our June magazine later this month that details the three paths that a local government may take moving forward. So, stay tuned for that. But you’re going have to get your ducks in a row in the coming months: either adopt an ordinance, don’t adopt an ordinance, it’ll be up to each individual municipality.”

View the full episode, recorded on June 3, 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.


Macomb, Kent, Washtenaw honored in NACo awards

Three Michigan counties earned recognition for five separate programs in the 2024 Achievement Awards announced by the National Association of Counties on June 7.

The program is a non-competitive awards program recognizing innovative county government programs in 18 categories covering a wide spectrum of county responsibilities. Since 1970, the NACo Achievement Awards have recognized outstanding county government programs and services. Through a non-competitive application process, noteworthy programs receive awards in 18 categories that cover a vast range of county responsibilities.

  • Macomb County garnered three different citations in the field of “Criminal Justice and Public Safety” for efforts around a Hate Crimes Unit, the streamlining of witness fee requests and a text-based access system to aid the victims of crime.
  • Kent County was honored for its “Getting Ahead of Lead” project to boost delivery of certified lead-reducing water filters to eligible households in the county.
  • Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary and Chief Judge Carol Kuhnke were honored for work on a Tax Foreclosure Prevention Specialty Docket that has “created a higher level of access to justice and to legal resources for vulnerable and disenfranchised homeowners.”

To see a full list of honorees, click here.


Check out NACo tool on opioid harm reduction

Five Questions for Counties Considering Harm Reduction as an Opioid Abatement Strategy was released by the National Association of Counties this past spring. The tool provides answers to the following questions and examples of counties associated with each question.

  • What is harm reduction and what would it mean for our community?
  • What if our county isn’t involved in the delivery of substance use services?
  • What if community-based organizations already offer harm reduction services?
  • What if harm reduction is restricted at the state level?
  • How can opioid settlement funds support harm reduction?

Based on data from MAC’s recent Annual Opioid Settlement County Reporting Survey, which 64 counties responded to, harm reduction is one of the lowest funded activities with local settlement funds (5%). The National Harm Reduction Coalition identifies harm reduction as, “Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use” (National Harm Reduction Coalition).

Harm reduction extends well beyond access to naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, and can include peer support, referrals to treatment, wound care, safe use supplies, communicable disease testing, and other services focused on meeting people where they are at. To learn more about how to meaningfully engage with individuals with lived and living experience with substance use, see MAC’s Lived Experience Key Takeaways Document from our previous webinar.

For more information on this issue, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.


Sign up now for free cybersecurity training pod

County leaders have free access to an upcoming cybersecurity training unit sponsored by the National Association of Counties:

  • Simulation Topic: Supplier Management Access
  • Virtual: June 17-21
  • Register Here– No Cost

Effective supplier management is integral to the operational efficiency of any organization, yet it poses inherent cybersecurity risks, especially concerning supplier access to sensitive systems and data. This cyber attack simulation focuses on evaluating the vulnerabilities and potential threats associated with supplier access including third-party vendor breaches, unauthorized use of supplier credentials, and supplier-initiated cyber threats. The simulation aims to foster a deeper comprehension of the complexities surrounding supplier access risks and to facilitate the development and testing of robust strategies for mitigating these risks effectively.

Designed with a daily commitment of 45 to 90 minutes for the duration of one week, activities can be accessed anywhere online and can be completed at the convenience of the participant’s schedule. The cyberattack simulation is designed for any cybersecurity manager as well as teams responsible for risk defense, protection, and recovery (including managers in HR, policy, finance, public safety and emergency services).

For questions, email moderator@pdaleadership.com.


Webinar to feature San Francisco’s naloxone access work

“Partnership for Healthy Cities is hosting Overdose Prevention Webinar: Partnering with Community to Enhance Overdose Prevention Strategies” will be held on Monday, June 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Individuals can register here.

The webinar will highlight San Francisco’s approach to increasing access to naloxone, the overdose reversal medication. They will share, “the process and benefits of partnering with community-based organizations and people with lived and living experience.”

For more information on this issue, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.


Staff picks

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