Legislative Update 7-17-20

Izzo added to 2020 Virtual Annual Conference line-up

A special address from legendary Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo will be one of the highlights of the 2020 MAC Virtual Annual Conference, which will include events on days between Aug. 18 and Aug. 27.

Izzo will address the President’s Gathering scheduled for Aug. 20 during the virtual event, which replaces MAC’s traditional summer conference shelved due to the public health circumstances imposed by the coronavirus.

Highlights of the event include:

  • Izzo’s remarks on Aug. 20, starting at 11 a.m.
  • Plenary sessions that will feature MAC’s Legislative Update, the semi-annual “State of MAC” report and an address by MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt
  • The Annual Business Meeting, during which members will vote on MAC’s policy platforms for the 2020-21 year
  • Seven policy workshops that will focus heavily on the implications of COVID-19 for counties in the coming months
  • A Virtual Exhibitor Show that will allow attendees to select up to five firms from which to hear 10-minute presentations

The unique nature of this event also brings changes to registration procedures:

  • The conference registration fee is only $50 for members, which includes all county officials
  • Attendees must register by a new deadline prior to the event – Aug. 7
  • MAC will not accept “walk-up” registrations during the conference (this is due to credentialing and election procedures adopted for the conference)

Start your registration with our Attendee Packet.

For questions, send an email to conference@micounties.org.

 

Podcast 83 answers your questions on COVID aid

Millions of dollars are available to counties for reimbursements for public health and safety workers and it’s important to begin filing for aid quickly, MAC Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth said during an episode of Podcast 83 this week.

Bosworth and Executive Director Stephan Currie discussed the aid streams now available under Senate Bill 690, then took questions from viewers of the webinar taped on Monday.

Regarding $100 million in hazard pay for first responders, Bosworth said, “It’s available on a first come, first served basis, so those who apply first are more likely to get the money. … I don’t know how fast it will go.”

On hazard pay, a local unit can receive only a maximum of $5 million, regardless of the amount requested. (FAQ sheet from Treasury on filing for hazard pay.)

On payroll taxes associated with hazard pay, Bosworth said MAC has requested additional guidance on whether state aid will cover those costs to counties.

Bosworth noted that forms and other details can be found on the Michigan Treasury website.

A second sum, $200 million, is to help counties with public health and public safety payrolls. It will have two rounds of payments, with the first applications due today (July 17). (FAQ sheet from Treasury on filing for reimbursements.)

If funds are left from round 1, Treasury will announce a round 2 in August.

“This can cover overtime, normal leave, long-term leave, benefits … you can lump it together and apply for reimbursement,” Bosworth said. If available funds are not sufficient to claims, reimbursements will be prorated.

Podcast 83 is now sponsored by DTE Energy.

For more information on COVID aid issues, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

MAC continues push for trial court fee authority

All during the COVID-19 pandemic, MAC has continued to urge Senate leaders to get House Bill 5488 to the governor’s desk. HB 5488, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), would extend statutory authority for Michigan’s trial courts to levy costs to defendants until Oct. 1, 2022. Currently, that authority expires this October.

The state’s Trial Court Funding Commission said court costs “directly account for as high as $291 million annually in support (most of the 26.2 percent generated). Additionally, approximately $127 million of the annual funds transferred from the State originate from court assessments at sentencing. When totaled, Michigan trial courts are supported, in significant part, by over $418 million assessed to criminal defendants.”

The Commission also reported “findings from the survey of local funding units show that the total cost of Michigan’s court system (outside of the supreme court and court of appeals) amounts to between $1.14 billion and $1.44 billion.” Of the total amount, the percentage of local court operations expenses covered by state general fund is 2.24 percent. The report calls for a rebalancing of state and local funds and makes recommendations for the Legislature to consider for a stable court funding system.

MAC expects movement of the bill when the Senate returns next week and is hopeful it will make its way to the governor’s desk rapidly.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Single candidates featured in MAC Board elections

A single candidate filed in each of the six races for seats on the MAC Board of Directors, with the filing period closing on Thursday.

Board candidates are:

  • Region 1: Joe Bonovetz (Gogebic)
  • Region 2: Richard Schmidt (Manistee)
  • Region 3: Jim Storey (Allegan)
  • Region 4: Bryan Crenshaw (Ingham)
  • Region 5: Veronica Klinefelt (Macomb)
  • At-large: Stan Ponstein (Kent)

While no candidate is opposed, MAC will still hold regional caucuses at the 2020 Annual Conference, as by-laws require an affirmative vote for a candidate to win a board seat. These candidates will serve three-year terms on the MAC Board, which oversees the association.

 

Election security is theme of NACo, MAC webinars

NACo has set a July 23 webinar on “How Counties Can Continue to Address Ransomware to Ensure Safe and Secure Elections.”

Experts gathered by the National Association of Counties will discuss what ransomware is; attack vectors used; how it impacts state, local, tribal, and territorial government entities; and specifically how it can impact election infrastructure. Presenters also will provide a set of recommendations for protecting networks against a ransomware attack, as well as response steps for those affected by ransomware.

The webinar, which runs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., is free. Click here to register.

The NACo event follows up on a MAC-sponsored webinar this week in its Camp Counties series on election cybersecurity. Rita Reynolds, chief technology officer of NACo, outlined a variety of tips and techniques that Michigan counties can use to make their websites and virtual workplaces more resilient. To view the recording of that webinar, click here

For more information on MAC’s Camp Counties series, visit the camp page.

 

MCMCFC leader appointed to COVID task force

Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council Executive Director Renee Beniak has been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to serve on the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force.

The Task Force was created by Whitmer’s Executive Order 135 as an advisory body in the Department of Health and Human Services to inform the state’s response to a potential second wave of COVID-19 in nursing homes. Some of the main responsibilities of the group will be to coordinate state agencies and industry stakeholders, report on best practices and recommend ways to improve data collection.

“The Task Force will produce a recommendation to the governor for an action plan on how to prepare nursing homes for any future wave of COVID-19 cases by August 31, 2020. The Task Force will dissolve no later than two years after the issuance of the executive order unless the governor orders otherwise.”

 

 

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