Michigan’s 83 counties will have 619 commissioners in 2023 (corrected)

Michigan’s 83 county governments will be led by 619 elected county commissioners after the 2022 elections, following decisions this fall by the county apportionment boards. (The original version of this item had incorrect information for Oceana County.)

The new total is a decrease of 3 commissioners from the current roster of 622 commissioners established after the last census and apportionment process.

Eight counties increased the size of their boards for 2023. The biggest boost was 2 seats, done in five counties, including Kent County, which, at 21, will have the largest board in the state on Jan. 1, 2023.

Seven counties reduced the size of their boards, with the largest reduction in Antrim, which is going from 9 districts to 5. Oakland County, which currently has the state’s largest board at 21, reduced its board ranks to 19 for 2023. Click here for the corrected list by county.

Every 10 years, a county apportionment commission sets the number and boundaries of county commissioner districts based on the numbers from the federal census. The number of county commissioner districts is restricted by state law based on population ranges. No county may have fewer than 5 seats or more than 21 under a law last modified in 2011. (Exceptions to this are Monroe and Wayne counties due to the way they are organized. Source: Guide to Michigan County Government, Fifth Edition, MSU Extension.)

This is the sixth apportionment process since Michigan went to directly elected commissioners from geographic districts in 1968 and continues a multi-decade trend of reductions in board seats. Beginning with the first apportionment in 1972, the number of commissioner seats has steadily declined from 1,033 to the current 622. This occurred even though Michigan’s population grew over the same period from 8.88 million in the 1970 census to 10.1 million in the 2020 census.

 

Attorneys offer opioid update in MAC webinar

Attorneys involved with the national opioid settlements briefed MAC members Friday morning on the status of the settlement and how resulting payments to counties will be handled. MAC hosted the webinar, which included a Q&A session led by Governmental Affairs Associate Meghann Keit-Corrion.

Among key points made by attorneys Paul Novak, Mark Bernstein and Matthew Walker were:

  • There is a deadline of Jan. 2 for counties to participate
  • The Michigan-specific section of the settlement has a 50/50 state/local split

To view a recording of the webinar, click here. To see the slide deck used in the webinar, click here.

For more information on the opioid settlement, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Add your voice to the push for 4-year commissioner terms

MAC continues to urge elected county officials to speak out in favor of legislation to create four-year terms for county commissioners.

As of Friday morning, 95 members had utilized MAC’s digital advocacy tool to send a prewritten email of support for Senate Bills 242 and 245 to their representative.

SB 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), are now on the House floor after receiving committee approval in early November.

MAC also thanks the 31 counties whose boards have passed resolutions of support: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Berrien, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Clinton, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Huron, Ionia, Isabella, Lenawee, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Oscoda, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

MAC is urging the House to act on the bills once the Legislature returns from its current break at the end of November.

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

 

Counties can aid coalition work on prosperity plan with resolutions

As the campaign for the MI Prosperity Roadmap gains steam, MAC has developed a new tool for counties to use to support this plan for historic investments in Michigan’s public assets.

UPDATE: See commentary from coalition in Bridge magazine.

A resolution template is now ready for counties to use to tout the specifics of the Prosperity Roadmap developed by the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan, of which MAC is a founding member.

MAC thanks the following counties, which have approved a resolution in support of a matching program for ARP funds: Alger, Barry, Chippewa, Delta, Huron, Isabella, Lake, Lapeer, Mecosta, Sanilac, Missaukee, Genesee and Menominee.

The clock is ticking, said MAC’s director of governmental affairs. “The time to reach out to legislators asking them to act is now,” Deena Bosworth emphasized. “The scope of local projects could drastically change if the state were to partner with us to improve our communities. We don’t want to be the last state to get money out the door; we will lose available labor to those states that are acting quickly.”

MAC staffers continue to meet with legislators to explain the plan to leverage state American Rescue Plan funds to invest in five key areas.

Be sure to visit MAC’s Prosperity Roadmap page for all the latest news on this effort.

For questions, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Registration opens for 2022 NACo Legislative Conference

Registration is now open for the 2022 National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12-16.

The conference brings together nearly 2,000 elected and appointed county officials to focus on federal policy issues that impact counties and our residents. Attendees can engage in second-to-none policy and educational sessions, interact with federal officials and participate in congressional briefings and meetings. The 2022 conference will be held in-person only. While some sessions and speeches may be live-streamed the day of with recordings available post-event, there is no set schedule to provide virtual access.

Click here to register and for information on the agenda and hotels. MAC expects hotel rooms to go fast, so members are encouraged to make their travel plans as soon as possible.

MAC will be hosting events at the NACo Conference. Keep an eye on Legislative Updates in early 2022 for dates, times and details.

 

Holiday will alter MAC office, Legislative Update and Podcast 83 schedules

MAC’s offices in Lansing will be closed Nov. 25-26 to observe the Thanksgiving holiday. Normal office hours resume on Monday, Nov. 29.

The holiday also will modify schedules for our Legislative Update emails and Podcast 83 episodes.

LU will skip Friday, Nov. 26 and resume weekly distribution on Friday, Dec. 3.

Our next Podcast 83 episode will be released in early December.

Executive Director Stephan Currie and the MAC staff wish you all a healthy, safe and pleasant Thanksgiving.

 

Green Communities to host briefing on resiliency challenge

Michigan Green Communities, of which MAC is a member, is hosting a webinar on Nov. 30 at 11 a.m. to share updates coming to the MGC Challenge and Network. Participants will hear from the new MGC coordinator, Danielle Beard, about the updates and have time to ask questions about the program and what to expect. This webinar is specifically intended for staff and elected/appointed officials of counties, cities, villages, and townships – whether or not they have participated in Green Communities in the past.

Click here to register for the webinar.

For more information on this issue contact Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org or info@migreencommunities.com.

 

Next juvenile justice focus group is on Nov. 30

Michigan has formed the Taskforce on Juvenile Justice Reform to identify what is working well in the juvenile justice system and to identify opportunities for statewide improvement. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center — a national nonprofit that works with state and local governments across the country — is the technical assistance provider to the taskforce. On behalf of the taskforce, the CSG Justice Center is conducting a comprehensive assessment of local and state juvenile justice policies, practices, and funding, and will submit a report of findings and recommendations by next summer. As part of this assessment, the CSG Justice Center is facilitating focus groups with key stakeholders across the state to hear directly from them about juvenile justice system strengths and challenges.

The next focus group to specifically solicit feedback from county commissioners and their staffers, will be Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Eastern:

https://csg-org.zoom.us/j/83895764435?pwd=Sy9WTStOMVRBSndiNmhJZTBKYzNjZz09

Meeting ID: 838 9576 4435
Passcode: 112059
+13126266799,,83895764435#,,,,*112059# US (Chicago)
+16465588656,,83895764435#,,,,*112059# US (New York)

We encourage you to join the focus group discussion so you can provide input that may ultimately inform statewide legislative, funding, and administrative changes to improve public safety and youth outcomes.

If you are unable to join either of these meetings but are still interested in providing feedback, please contact MAC’s Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Pensions, retiree health care are topics for next Treasury webinar

A webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 30 will focus on local government issues involving pensions and retiree health care.

The webinar, which runs 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., is led by the Michigan Treasury and co-sponsored by MAC and other local government groups. This webinar provides additional resources to help local governments better manage their defined benefit retirement systems in response to ever-changing economic conditions.

Topics covered will include:

  • An update on the Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act (Public Act 202 of 2017), including data, resources, and next steps.
  • A presentation on retiree healthcare, specifically focused around coordinating your retiree health benefits with Medicare.
  • An overview by the Municipal Stability Board on best practices for underfunded local governments.

Participants can register and submit questions on the webinar’s registration page.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has created a webpage to provide resources and information about the Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act and other emerging topics. If you are unable to attend this webinar, you will be able to access a recording of the webinar on this page. This webpage was created to ensure that Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance and is updated frequently with information and resources as they become available. 

 

Four-year terms bills zip out of House committee

Legislation to enact four-year terms for county commissioners continues to gain momentum as the House Local Government Committee took only a few minutes this week to approve Senate Bills 242 and 245.

SB 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), now rocket to the floor of the Michigan House. The committee approved both by votes of 10-2 on Wednesday.

While MAC is thrilled by the progress, much work remains to ensure final passage. Please tell your representative of your support for four-year terms by utilizing our digital advocacy tool to send messages of support.

“We’ve reached another critical juncture,” said Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth. “Every representative needs to hear from you, our county leaders, about this bill. It only takes a couple of clicks to send a pre-drafted message of support today!”

MAC also thanks the 29 counties whose boards have passed resolutions of support: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Berrien, Cheboygan, Clinton, Huron, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Ionia, Isabella, Lenawee, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Oscoda, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

MAC is urging the House to act on the bills once the Legislature returns from its current break at the end of November.

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

 

Michigan to get $10 billion out of huge federal infrastructure bill

Federal legislation to provide $1.2 trillion over five years to make significant investments in transportation, water, power and energy, environmental remediation and broadband is now on President Biden’s desk after both chambers of Congress gave bipartisan approval.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the U.S House of 228-206. The legislation previously passed the U.S Senate 69-30.

The legislation is the nation’s biggest investment to improve infrastructure in decades, it includes:

  • Transportation: $284 billion
  • Water: $55 billion
  • Broadband: $65 billion
  • Energy & Power: $73 billion
  • Environmental remediation: $21 billion
  • Roads & Bridges: $110 billion
  • Airports: $25 billion
  • Transit: $39 billion
  • Rail: $66 billion

Of the federal spending package, Michigan is slated to receive over $10 billion. A substantial part of that amount will be dedicated tor roads, with an estimated $7.3 billion for such work. Other expected amounts are:

  • $1.3 billion for water infrastructure, including lead and PFAS.
  • $1 billion to improve rail lines and buses
  • $110 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • $563 million to repair or replace bridges
  • $100 million to expand high-speed internet access

Read the legislative analysis from NACo to learn more about the bill here.

MAC expects additional information, guidance and webinars to be hosted by NACo and federal partners.

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

 

9-1-1 funding plan clears Senate committee

Secure funding for Michigan’s 9-1-1 infrastructure moved closer to reality this week as the Senate Energy and Technology Committee passed legislation to extend the state 9-1-1 enabling act until December 2027.

MAC was among a long list of supporters of the bill before committee, which led to a summary explanation of the bill, no changes and a unanimous vote by the committee.

House Bill 5026 would act as budget implementation for a $16 million, one-time appropriation in FY22 to the state 9-1-1 fund to fill a hole created by revenue from prepaid phone fees coming in lower than expected.  The appropriation allowed the fee for post-paid (contract) phones to remain at 25 cents.  Beginning March 1, 2022, prepaid phone fees would increase from 5 percent to 6 percent to ensure equity among revenue sources.

Additionally, the bill includes a review of prepaid fee revenue by Treasury to determine why prepaid phone revenue has been lower than expected. It also has a mechanism to trigger a roll back in fees if revenue is higher than expected.

MAC expects swift passage of this critical legislation once the Legislature returns in two weeks. The bill would then move to the governor’s desk for a signature before the current authorization expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

MAC studying House GOP spending plan for law enforcement

Republicans in the Michigan House have announced a $250 million supplemental spending bill (House Bill 5522) for police training, recruitment and supports.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee heard from law enforcement professionals, including Michigan Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Matt Saxton, about the challenges facing law enforcement on employee retention and recruitment.

MAC is reviewing the bill and has not yet taken a position on it.

A mix of dollars from the state General Fund (GF) and the state’s allocation of the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery would go toward a number of initiatives, such as signing bonuses, officer mental health services and covering costs of training programs.

Specifically, the proposal includes:

  • $57.5 million GF to grant funding to local law enforcement agencies to be used to purchase years of service for out-of-state officers who are hired in Michigan; to pay for 2 years of a maximum contribution for individual or family coverage into a health savings account; to pay an amount equal to the amount of employer contributions the out of-state officer will forfeit by relocating to Michigan if an out of-state officer has a defined contribution plan with the officer’s out-of-state employer in which the officer is not fully vested,; and to reimburse out-of-state officers relocating to Michigan for fees they pay for hunting licenses, fishing licenses, and recreation passports
  • $25 million GF to issue grants for communication towers and other communication equipment
  • $10 million GF to reimburse local law enforcement officers for leave time they were required to use in order to quarantine because of exposure or possible exposure to COVID-19
  • $10 million GF to grant funding to local public safety departments for creating or expanding explorer and job shadowing programs
  • $7.5 million gross ($3.75 million federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds, $3.75 million GF) for grants to local public safety departments for assisting with funding equipment and personnel necessary for implementing and maintaining body-worn camera programs
  • $7.5 million in State Fiscal Recovery Funds for grants to behavioral health providers that support first responder and public safety staff.

A more detailed breakdown of the spending proposal can be found here.

The bill remains in the House Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

For questions, please contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Send in letter of support for ARP flexibility measure

On Tuesday night, companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with 32 bipartisan co-sponsors for the bipartisan State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act (S. 3011), which would provide additional flexibility for the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund) authorized under the American Rescue Plant Act (ARPA).

The bill number is H.R. 5735. It now has 81 co-sponsors, including Reps. Peter Meijer (R-MI3), Dan Kildee (D-MI5), Tim Walberg (R-MI7), John Moolenaar (R-MI4) and Fred Upton (R-MI6).

S. 3011/H.R. 5735 would impact America’s counties in the following ways:

  • Allows counties to allocate up to $10 million in ARPA Recovery Funds for the provision of government services or $10 million (or 30 percent) for infrastructure-related activities authorized under existing federal surface transportation laws (including local match for some programs) and projects eligible under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program
  • Allows ARPA Recovery Funds to provide emergency relief from natural disasters and their negative economic impacts, including temporary emergency housing, food assistance, financial assistance for lost wages, or other immediate needs
  • Clarifies an “eligible revenue share county” is the same as Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) counties and redirects 1 percent (or $15 million) from the original $1.5B for public lands “revenue share” counties to U.S. territories

The flexibilities described above are a tremendous opportunity to realize the original goals of the ARPA. With increased local control over the Recovery Funds, counties can make the investment decisions that are best for their local communities.

MAC and NACo are urging county leaders to use this template letter to communicate with your U.S. representative to inform them about the potential impact of this legislation, sign on as a co-sponsor and urge them to quickly pass the bill.

For more information, you can visit NACo’s new resource hub on S. 3011/H.R. 5735, which includes county-by-county flexibility estimates, an overview of the bill and other helpful resources.

 

Rossman-McKinney

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) joins with the rest of the Lansing community in mourning the loss of our friend Kelly Rossman-McKinney.

Rossman-McKinney, who joined the Board of Directors for MAC’s Service Corp. in 2013 and helped spur a transformation in the organization’s promotion of services to county governments, passed away Nov. 9, 2021, after a long battle with cancer.

“Like so many in Lansing, I had the honor of calling Kelly my friend and enjoyed the gift of being able to call on her experience and her wisdom whenever I confronted any challenge with MAC,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director. “Kelly’s tenure on our Service Corp. Board of Directors was marked by success and growth – no surprise, since Kelly excelled in whatever she put her mind to.”

Sam Hopkins, president of the MAC Service Corp. Board of Directors, said:

“I knew Kelly for many years in many roles as fire chief in Lansing and East Lansing, but it was not until I began to serve with her on the Service Corp. Board that I learned the full measure of her gifts and her passion for Lansing and Michigan. You knew where you stood with her, but she always treated everyone with respect in debates, whether you had the ‘right’ answer or not. Our community has lost a true champion.”

Rossman-McKinney started her career in Lansing as a legislative secretary in 1979, reported the MIRS News Service. She steadily advanced in public service before blazing a new trail in the world of public relations in Lansing, becoming one of the most knowledgeable and respected people in public life in Lansing and state government. She tried her hand at electoral politics in 2018, running for a Michigan Senate seat. Most recently, she served as communications director for Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The leadership and staff at MAC extend our condolences to her husband, “Officer Dave,” her family and the countless friends and colleagues made over a life so well lived.

MAC provides legal review of federal vaccine mandate

In response to questions from members, MAC reached out to the firm of Cohl Stoker & Toskey for information regarding how the federal vaccine mandate on employers relates to county governments.

Below is the response, reproduced in its entirety. Members, of course, are also advised to consult with their corporation counsels on all legal matters:

On November 4, 2021, the Federal Occupational & Safety Administration (OSHA) issued its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect unvaccinated workers from the risk of contracting COVID-19 at work.  Employers must require that (1) employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, or (2) be tested every seven days and wear a face covering if unvaccinated. 

The ETS applies to all employers with more than 100 employees, but does not apply to

(a) employees who do not report to a workplace where other individuals such as coworkers or customers are present, (b) employees while they are working from home, or (c) employees who work exclusively outdoors.

The ETS requires covered employers to develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead establish, implement, and enforce a policy allowing employees who are not fully vaccinated to elect to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at the workplace.

The ETS requires employers to determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination, maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status, and maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status. Employers must also support vaccination by providing employees reasonable time, including up to four hours of paid time, to receive each vaccination dose, and reasonable time and paid sick leave to recover from the side effects of vaccination.

The ETS requires employers to ensure that each employee who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if away from the workplace for a week or longer). The ETS does not require employers to pay for any costs associated with testing. However, employer payment for testing may be required by other laws, regulations,

or collective bargaining agreements. In addition, nothing prohibits employers from voluntarily assuming the costs associated with testing.

Employers must also ensure that each employee who is not fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.

The ETS is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register on November 5, 2021.  To comply, employers must ensure all provisions are addressed in the workplace by Dec. 5, 2021 (other than testing for employees who have not completed their entire primary vaccination doses), and by Jan. 4, 2022, for testing of employees who have not received all doses required for a primary vaccination.

It is important to note that the Federal OSHA does not directly apply to Michigan employers. Rather, Michigan has an approved State Plan of its own under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA), MCL 408.1001 et seq.

However, even though the ETS does not directly apply to Michigan, under MIOSHA, MCL 408.1014(5), within 10 working days after a new Federal OSHA Standard is adopted or promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity is required to initiate the processing of an administrative rule that is substantially similar to the Federal OSHA Standard. The Director may also promulgate an MIOSHA Emergency Temporary Rule under MCL 408.1021(2).

Adoption of this ETS, or an ETS that is at least as effective as this ETS, by State Plans must be completed within 30 days of the promulgation date of the final Federal rule, and State Plans must notify Federal OSHA of the action they will take within 15 days.

Thus, although the ETS does not directly to Michigan, the substance of the ETS is required to be processed as an administrative rule in Michigan.  MCL 408.1014(5); MCL 408.1021(2). 

MIOSHA applies to all places of employment, except domestic employment and mines, MCL 408.1002(1), and applies to all employers, including the State or a political subdivision (including Counties) that employ one or more persons.  MCL 408.1005(2); MCL 408.1006(2); MCL 408.1009. MIOSHA applies to the judicial branch of government.

 

More county voices needed to oppose privatization bid

MAC continues to urge county leaders to voice their opposition to bills that would create a damaging privatization scheme for the state’s local mental health services.

Senate Bills 597-98, by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) and Sen. John Bizon (R-Calhoun) respectively, create a timeline for privatization via a phased approach. Full financial integration would be extended from 2026 to 2030 to account for the revised timeline. Additionally, the legislation requires that any General Fund money distributed to the CMHs or other providers, as determined by the state, must receive 100 percent of the intended reward — no administrative fees would be permitted.

MAC opposes any move to shift toward privatization of our local public mental health system. MAC has provided testimony on the issue and joined on a letter with criminal justice partners that share concerns.

To help make our case to the Senate, please use MAC’s email advocacy tool to send your message of opposition to your senator with just a single click. Feel free to customize the email as you see fit. Personal stories or examples of our local system success stories are extremely helpful.

As of Friday, 28 county leaders had sent in messages of opposition via the advocacy tool. But many, many more are needed to sway the Senate.

A one-pager on the issue can be found here and provides bullet-pointed concerns of the legislation. A list of concerns, as well as a list of the groups in opposition, can be found here and used as you see fit.

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

 

Committee vote pending on bills for 4-year terms; send in your email of support

MAC is asking county leaders to share their support for legislation for four-year commissioner terms as a House committee continues its review of two Senate-backed bills.

Senate Bills 242 and 245 are before the House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance, which took testimony from MAC and others in late October. A vote was not scheduled on them this week. The bills, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson) and Sen. Jeremy Moss (R-Oakland), passed the Senate with broad, bipartisan support earlier this year.

MAC is urging all members who have not already done so to utilize our digital advocacy tool to send messages of support to their various state representatives.

MAC also thanks the 29 counties whose boards have passed resolutions of support: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Berrien, Cheboygan, Clinton, Huron, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Ionia, Isabella, Lenawee, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Oscoda, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

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

 

MAC praises plan to invest in public safety, ‘Jobs Court’

A proposal to invest $30 million “to reduce violence in communities across Michigan by establishing a range of community violence prevention initiatives informed by data and best practices used nationwide” drew praise from MAC’s executive director this week.

Stephan Currie, responding to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “third pillar” of her MI Safe Communities initiative, said, “Investing in safe communities is critical, and Michigan’s counties welcome an enhanced state partnership in this effort.

“A primary county function is to protect public safety through sheriff, prosecutor and judicial offices. The increased awareness of individuals with mental illness in our criminal justice system has led to innovative partnerships and locally driven responses. We applaud investment in efforts to reduce violence, support law enforcement and ensure individuals with mental illness are getting the community support they deserve,” Currie added.

The $30 million investment, divided into 30 $1 million grants, “will go to communities with the highest increases in violent crime. Community-based violence intervention and prevention (CVI) programs apply an effective, localized approach to gun violence reduction, providing evidence and community-informed, comprehensive support to individuals who are at greatest risk of gunshot victimization,” Whitmer’s office said this week.

In a separate announcement regarding MI Safe Communities framework, the administration proposed a $5.5 million investment to establish Jobs Court, a pilot program to give up to 450 eligible defendants in Wayne, Genesee and Marquette counties accused of low-level, nonviolent crimes an opportunity to obtain and maintain gainful employment. Eligible Jobs Court participants would be matched with employers to work a good paying job with benefits, opportunity, and training to learn transferable career skills.

For more information on MAC’s courts and public safety policies, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

County millage requests gain favor from voters across Michigan

Approvals by voters in Emmet and Manistee County for funds for their local medical care facilities were among the highlights of county-related millage elections on Nov. 2.

In Emmet, voters agreed to a .25 mill increase to raise $7.6 million for Bay Bluffs Medical Care Facility for improvements, while Manistee voters said yes to property taxes to generate $24 million to renovate its structure built in 1961.

Nine of the 10 county millages tracked by MAC and the Gongwer News Service were approved, with Luce votes approving three of them.

For details, click here.

 

Webinar features Michigan’s success on jail reforms

MAC’s Meghann Keit-Corrion (bottom center) and former Kent Commissioner Jim Talen (top center) participate in a webinar on jail policies put on by NACo and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Counties across the country are facing increased jail populations, particularly with housing individuals with mental illness, and are working with state leaders to consider policies to reduce those jail populations and maintain public safety. Meghann Keit-Corrion of MAC recently joined the National Association of Counties, the Pew Charitable Trusts and a former county commissioner and member of the Michigan Jails Task Force for a webinar featuring the taskforce recommendations and enacted policy to safely reduce jail populations.

Jim Talen, a former Kent County commissioner who served on the Michigan Task Force, participated in the webinar, sharing his personal experiences from the group’s deliberations.

Pew, which helped spearhead the Michigan effort, has collected a wealth of materials on the topic:

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

 

MAC offices to observe holiday on Nov. 11

MAC’s Lansing offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 11 to observe the Veterans Day holiday.

Normal office hours will resume on Friday, Nov. 12 at 8 a.m.

Also, don’t forget to “fall back” on your clocks on Sunday morning!

 

Input sought from county leaders on child health programs

In response to an “unprecedented” increase of $16.5 million in the state budget for the Child and Adolescent Health Center Program, the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan is surveying community leaders about services.

To complete this short survey, click here.

“This is the biggest increase to the program that we’ve experienced and want to be as helpful as we possibly can be to all of the potential sponsoring agencies, schools and others who may want to apply for these funds,” said Renee Topolski of the alliance.

To see current models of care through the program, click here.

 

County leaders, tell Senate to oppose privatization bid

Bills that would create a damaging privatization scheme for the state’s local mental health services cleared a Senate committee this week.

MAC is opposing this legislation and asking county leaders to engage with their senators with that message. (See below.)

Senate Bills 597-98, by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) and Sen. John Bizon (R-Calhoun) respectively, cleared the Senate Government Operations Committee this week. Joining Shirkey in support of the bills were Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-St. Clair) and Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Van Buren).

The committee made several changes to SB 597, by Shirkey (R-Jackson), to the timeline for privatization to create a phased approach. The first phase focuses specifically on children, the second phase focuses on adults with serious mental illness (SMI) or severe emotional disturbance (SED), the third phase focuses on individuals with a substance use disorder diagnosis, and the fourth center son the intellectually and developmentally disabled population. There were only three phases initially, as the first phase originally included both children and adults with an SMI or SED diagnosis. Full financial integration would be extended from 2026 to 2030 to account for the revised timeline.

Additionally, the legislation requires that any General Fund money distributed to the CMHs or other providers, as determined by the state, must receive 100 percent of the intended reward — no administrative fees would be permitted.

MAC opposes any move to shift toward privatization of our local public mental health system. MAC has provided testimony to the committee and joined on a letter with criminal justice partners that share concerns. Shirkey indicated during committee these bills will move with a substantial mental health supplemental spending bill in the upcoming months, which was introduced this week as Senate Bill 714. MAC will oppose spending that is tied to passage of SBs 597-98.

To help make our case to the Senate, please use MAC’s email advocacy tool to send your message of opposition to your senator with just a single click. Feel free to customize the email as you see fit. Personal stories or examples of our local system success stories are extremely helpful.

Additionally, partners at the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan have advocacy tools you may wish to share with constituents or others.

A one-pager on the issue can be found here and provides bullet-pointed concerns of the legislation. A list of concerns, as well as a list of the groups in opposition, can be found here and used as you see fit.

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

 

Senate sponsors, Allegan chair make case for 4-year terms to House committee

MAC’s Deena Bosworth fields a question on bills to extend commissioner terms at a Wednesday hearing in Lansing.

A bipartisan Senate duo engaged in a spirited discussion Wednesday with a House committee on their bills to move county commissioner terms to four years in length.

Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson) and Sen. Jeremy Moss (R-Oakland) were assisted in their advocacy for Senate Bills 242 and 245 by Allegan County Board Chair Jim Storey, who gave a historical overview of the term-length issue to the House Local Government Committee from his home studio.

During a broad philosophical discussion with committee members, McBroom and Moss detailed the growing demands on county boards in managing public affairs since two-year terms were established in the late 1960s and the disparity between commissioner terms and those for countywide elected officials and for township positions. The majority of the debate centered around the value of accountability with a two-year term election cycle and the need to minimize politics in favor of continuity and governance. 

In his remarks, Storey also noted the wide array of county responsibilities and highlighted a very recent addition: managing aspects of the public response to COVID-19. “Today, as I converse with you, a new, massive duty has been added, counties are setting up and conducting testing and vaccination clinics for their residents … thousands of them. As a result, county boards across the state are wrestling with and devoting the time and attention to overseeing the delivery of these functions,” he said.

“These tasks and the many assigned by previous legislatures has made the job of county commissioner deeper and more important than ever before. Nor are these tasks simple one-offs. The ones enumerated require long range planning and attention to detail over several years to be successful and cost-efficient.”

Also speaking in support of the bills, a key MAC legislative priority for 2021, were Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth and Oakland County Commissioner William Miller.

“Due to the lively debate, commissioner outreach to House members is essential if we want to move this forward,” said Bosworth noted.

The bills, which passed the Senate with broad, bipartisan support earlier in 2021, are expected to receive votes in the committee next week. In advance of that, MAC is urging all members to utilize our digital advocacy tool to send messages of support to their various state representatives, if they have not already done so.

MAC also thanks the 29 counties whose boards have passed resolutions of support: Allegan, Alpena, Bay, Berrien, Cheboygan, Clinton, Huron, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Genesee, Houghton, Ionia, Isabella, Lenawee, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Oscoda, Sanilac, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wexford.

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

 

Counties can aid coalition work on prosperity plan with resolutions

As the campaign for the MI Prosperity Roadmap gains steam, MAC has developed a new tool for counties to use to support this plan for historic investments in Michigan’s public assets.

A resolution template is now ready for counties to use to tout the specifics of the Prosperity Roadmap developed by the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan, of which MAC is a founding member.

The clock is ticking, said MAC’s director of governmental affairs. “The time to reach out to legislators asking them to act is now,” Deena Bosworth emphasized. “The scope of local projects could drastically change if the state were to partner with us to improve our communities.  We don’t want to be the last state to get money out the door; we will lose available labor to those states that are acting quickly.”

MAC staffers continue to meet with legislators to explain the plan to leverage state American Rescue Plan funds to invest in five key areas. And Executive Director Stephan Currie continues to explain the financial realities facing counties and others, this week to the Detroit News.

Be sure to visit MAC’s Prosperity Roadmap page for all the latest news on this effort.

For questions, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

MAC urges U.S. House to adopt ARP flexibility measure

In a letter this week, MAC asked Michigan’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives this week to join the Senate by passing new legislation to increase a county’s flexibility in using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act (S. 3011 and the identical H.R. 5735) would:

  • Allow counties to allocate up to $10 million in ARPA Recovery Funds for the provision of government services without being required to calculate revenue loss

  • Allow $10 million (or 30 percent) of a county’s ARPA Recovery Fund allocation to be used for infrastructure-related activities authorized under existing federal surface transportation laws or a Community Development Block Grant project

  • Allow ARPA Recovery Funds to provide emergency relief from natural disasters and their negative economic impacts, including temporary emergency housing, food assistance, financial assistance for lost wages or other immediate needs

MAC thanks U.S. Rep Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) for his co-sponsorship of the House version.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has created a resources hub in support of the legislation, including a letter template that counties can use.

Also, be sure to visit MAC’s ARP Resources Page for the latest news and events.

 

Huge House majority backs 911 funding changes

The Michigan House, by a huge majority, approved a 911 funding bill, House Bill 5026, this week and sent it to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee. The bill would ensure authorization for Michigan’s 911 operation continues and is appropriately funded. The sunset on the fee structure would be extended through Dec. 31, 2027.

As passed, the bill would act as budget implementation for a $16 million one-time appropriation in FY22 to the state 9-1-1 fund to fill a hole created by prepaid revenue coming in lower than expected.  The appropriation allowed the fee for postpaid (contract) phones to remain at 25 cents.  Beginning March 1, 2022, prepaid phone fees would increase from 5 percent to 6 percent to ensure equity among revenue sources.

Additionally, the bill includes a review of prepaid fee revenue by Treasury to determine why prepaid phone revenue has been lower than expected. It also has a mechanism to trigger a roll back in fees if revenue is higher than expected.

MAC supports the legislation. A county template resolution and talking points can be found here.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Bills to address medical staffing crisis clear House

A medication aide training and registration program would be created in Michigan under a bill that passed the House of Representatives this week.

House Bill 4316, by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Shiawassee), passed 56-48. Under its provisions, the medication aide would administer regularly scheduled medications to residents of a nursing home while under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. While not a complete solution to the long-term care staffing crisis, this is intended to allow nurses more time for specialty care.

The training program and permitting of medication aides would go through the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Practice as a medication aide would not include the practice of nursing and would not include administering controlled substances, administering medications in injectable forms, the initial administration of medications or the administration of “as needed” medications. More than 20 other states allow medication aides in skilled nursing facilities.

A similar bill passed the Legislature last year but was pocket-vetoed by the governor.

The version that passed the House includes a “sunset” of Dec. 31, 2026, a set date in time when the law would expire unless further legislative action was taken, to help ensure the measure was working as expected.  The bill is now before the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee chaired by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason).  

The House easily passed another bill, House Bill 5089, by Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Livingston), to allow the state to recognize on-the-job training by counting it toward certification requirements that are required for nursing facility staff. The bill adds an alternative option for demonstrating competency to LARA. Instead of successfully completing a competency examination approved by LARA, the applicant could successfully complete an assessment performed by a site administrator responsible for assessing the applicant’s competency skills or by the entity hiring the applicant, as long as those assessments were determined by LARA to meet federal requirements. LARA would have to allow an applicant to complete a competency examination online or through remote means.

HB 5089 also has moved to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee.

The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council, which represents the county-owned skilled nursing facilities in the state, supports both bills.

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

 

House passes bill to limit local control on short-term housing rentals

A bill that largely strips local governments’ ability to regulate short-term housing rentals passed the House this week in a late-night session.

House Bill 4722, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), advanced on a 55-48 vote this week. The legislation states short-term rentals can’t be banned, be subject to a conditional use permit or be considered a commercial property. However, local governments can limit the percentage of units that can be designated a short-term rental to 30 percent of housing stock in their jurisdictions.

Local governments also, under the bill, can regulate noise, advertising and traffic through an ordinance. And the legislation sets a limit on the number of such rentals by a property owner (2) and the number of days a renter can occupy a unit (30).

MAC has not taken a position on the bill and will continue to monitor this legislation as it now moves to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

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

 

County views sought on juvenile justice system

Michigan has formed the Taskforce on Juvenile Justice Reform to identify what is working well in the juvenile justice system and to identify opportunities for statewide improvement. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center — a national nonprofit that works with state and local governments across the country — is the technical assistance provider to the taskforce. On behalf of the taskforce, the CSG Justice Center is conducting a comprehensive assessment of local and state juvenile justice policies, practices and funding, and will submit a report of findings and recommendations by next summer. As part of this assessment, the CSG Justice Center is facilitating focus groups with key stakeholders across the state to hear directly from them about juvenile justice system strengths and challenges.

Two focus groups have been scheduled specifically to solicit feedback from county commissioners and their staffers, including:

  • Nov. 16, 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Eastern

https://csg-org.zoom.us/j/87417802335?pwd=MVFoZVF6TlF3L3REb1cwZjZkVFI0dz09

Meeting ID: 874 1780 2335
Passcode: 751571
+13017158592,,87417802335#,,,,*751571# US (Washington DC)
+13126266799,,87417802335#,,,,*751571# US (Chicago)

  • Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Eastern

https://csg-org.zoom.us/j/83895764435?pwd=Sy9WTStOMVRBSndiNmhJZTBKYzNjZz09

Meeting ID: 838 9576 4435
Passcode: 112059
+13126266799,,83895764435#,,,,*112059# US (Chicago)
+16465588656,,83895764435#,,,,*112059# US (New York)

We encourage you to join one of these focus group discussions so you can provide input that may ultimately inform statewide legislative, funding and administrative changes to improve public safety and youth outcomes. If you are unable to join either of these meetings but are still interested in providing feedback, please contact MAC’s Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Survey: Local leaders still see much uncertainty on COVID’s course

A significant share of county leaders reported still seeing “crisis-level” impacts from COVID-19 in a survey just released by the University of Michigan.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS) is performed by the Center for Local, Urban and State Policy (CLOSUP) at U-M and done in partnership with MAC, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association.

“By jurisdiction type, county officials are by far the most likely to report significant (53%) or crisis-level
(8%) impacts continuing in their jurisdictions in 2021 … Meanwhile, 41% of city officials, 30% of village officials, and 25% of township officials say their communities continue to suffer severe impacts of COVID-19 this year,” wrote the report authors.

“While the numbers of communities reporting on the full range of impacts from the pandemic — public health, the economy, residents’ welfare and public service delivery, among others — are significant, they show improving conditions amid uncertainty, the authors added.

The spring 2021 MPPS reached 1,364 leaders of counties, municipalities and townships and responses were collected April 5 and June 7.

“The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on communities across Michigan,” said Tom Ivacko, executive director of CLOSUP in a university release. “We see the continuing effects particularly in the largest population areas in the southeast as well as in communities across the Upper Peninsula. After more than a year, there remains uncertainty about how and when they will emerge from the economic and health challenges they have faced.”

 

Treasury provides actuarial assumptions for FY22

A key component of the Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act (Public Act 202 of 2017) requires the State Treasurer to annually establish uniform actuarial assumptions for local governments in Michigan who offer a defined benefit retirement system(s) (pension or retirement health care). Below is a link to a draft of the fiscal year 2022 uniform assumptions that are being made available for public comment. 

Fiscal Year 2022 Uniform Assumptions

This document provides the rationale for how the assumptions are determined as well as a table that provides a summary of the relevant changes. Following a 30-day public comment period, the uniform assumptions will be released to be used in fiscal year 2022 Public Act 202 of 2017 reporting.  

If you would like to offer comment on these draft uniform assumptions, please email LocalRetirementReporting@michigan.gov by Nov. 26. Treasury will review and consider your comments before finalizing the fiscal year 2022 uniform assumptions.

Additionally, the Michigan Department of Treasury has developed a webpage with numbered letters, memorandums, webinars, and resources regarding COVID-19 updates for local governments and school districts. This webpage was created to ensure that Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance and is updated frequently with information and resources as they become available.

 

State-local collaboration will assist on resiliency

A collaboration of local government groups and the state is renewing efforts to support communities in their work to adapt to changing weather patterns, reduce energy use and save money and resources.

The Michigan Green Communities (MGC) program is backed by MAC, cities, townships and three state agencies. All Michigan counties are eligible to join the MGC network and take the MGC challenge. Receive support in your community’s sustainability journey by joining the Michigan Green Communities network. Learn more about MGC program here.

The revamped Michigan Green Communities includes:

  • Updated MGC Challenge – Launching January 2022 on the MGC website
  • Virtual Networking Platform – Launching early 2022 on the MGC website
  • MGC coordinator to assist communities in finding technical assistance and resources to achieve your community’s sustainability goals

MAC encourages members to sign up for the MGC Challenge and begin your sustainability journey.

For more information, contact Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org or MGC Coordinator Danielle Beard at dbeard@mml.org.

 

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