Each year, MAC establishes legislative priorities for the upcoming year. These items are based on input and feedback from our membership and center around the more pressing issues our counties are facing. Some items are holdovers from the previous legislative session, and some are new items brought to our attention.
The list covers only a portion of the issues we will work on this year, but these six issue areas are where we will take the lead:
Revamping the Open Meetings Act to allow for pre-pandemic virtual participation in meetings.
Prior to the changes made to the Open Meetings Act (OMA) in 2020 during the pandemic, members of a public body could attend, participate and vote remotely at county board sessions, so long as a quorum of the public body was physically present at the meeting location. The statutory change to allow for full board meetings to be held remotely due to the pandemic expired Dec. 31, 2021, and impacted the pre-pandemic rules by now barring remote participants from voting, even if a quorum is physically present in the meeting room. For questions on this topic, contact Madeline Fata at email@example.com.
Establishing a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund.
Revenue Sharing is the most flexible form of state aid to counties, which makes it the most effective method to fund generational investments in public services — with decisions made at the local level. The legislation will seek to create a statutory earmark of the state sales tax. The money deposited into the fund would stay in the fund for distribution to counties, cities, villages and townships and not lapse to the state General Fund at the end of each fiscal year. The money in the fund would be split, with 50 percent going to county revenue sharing and 50 percent going to revenue sharing for cities, villages and townships; this distribution could potentially increase county revenue sharing in the first year by more than 40 percent. The legislation’s method of carving out a percentage of the sales tax for the fund is what revenue sharing was originally designed to do — share in the state’s revenue. If sales tax revenue goes up, local allocations go up, if sales tax revenue falls, so do allocations, just like it does for constitutional revenue sharing for cities, villages and townships. For questions on this topic, contact Deena Bosworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Implementing the Trial Court Funding Commission’s recommendations for a more equitable and stable funding mechanism for our trial courts.
Local court funding remains caught in a looming statutory sunset, which now is set for May 2024, and is the subject of ongoing litigation before the Michigan Supreme Court. To ensure our local courts do not face a financial emergency, MAC supports the creation of the Trial Court Fund to distribute funding to trial courts based on operational requirements while maintaining local discretion over trial court operational decisions and the establishment of uniform assessments and centralized collections for all trial courts through the State Court Administrator’s Office. The system will maintain judicial discretion for ordering fines, will reduce costs and increase efficiency. For questions on this topic, contact Samantha Gibson at email@example.com.
Increasing resources for juvenile justice services.
A lack of staff, training and facilities has left a critical shortage of resources to house those in the juvenile justice system. MAC will be seeking an increase in funding for staff recruiting, retention and training, direct funding for additional facilities and an increase in the per diem rate for foster care parents. For questions on this topic, contact Samantha Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compensating local governments for funds diverted by the Veterans Property Tax Exemption.
Since the enactment of the Disabled Veterans Property Tax exemption in 2013, counties have sought reimbursement from the state for the lost local revenues, a hit of tens of millions of dollars each year. MAC supports continuing the exemption — but with the state making up those local losses through a refundable income tax credit payable to local governments. This method of reimbursement was approved in previous legislative sessions by both the Senate and supported by veterans organizations but was never fully enacted. For questions on this topic, contact Deena Bosworth at email@example.com.
Revamping the Personal Property Tax (PPT) Exemption to provide annual reimbursement to local governments.
As part of the economic development deal struck at the end of 2021, the Legislature and governor enacted an increase for the PPT exemption for small business, thereby reducing revenue to local governments by approximately $75 million each year. This exemption begins this year without a defined method for reimbursement for local governments that receive PPT funds. MAC worked with the 101st Legislature on a reimbursement methodology, but the bills were not brought up for a vote in the House during the last days of session. MAC will seek the same legislative reimbursement mechanism in new legislation in 2023. For questions on this topic, contact Deena Bosworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please watch for MAC advocacy campaigns throughout the year on these items and others so we can succeed helping counties better serve their residents in 2023 and beyond.
For more information about MAC’s advocacy strategies, contact Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth at email@example.com.