Legislature sets up future funding crisis on Personal Property Tax

MAC joined with other local government groups this week to urge the Legislature to address the consequences of a massive Personal Property Tax exemption which lawmakers rushed through Lansing in a late-night session on Tuesday.

While the Legislature voted for House Bill 5351 without a clear understanding of its effects on local governments, estimates of the impact are as high as $75 million each year. This results through the bill’s lifting of the PPT exemption threshold for small taxpayers from $80,000 to $180,000 in true cash value.

Lawmakers did also vote for a $75 million reimbursement for the first year of this exemption scheme (which starts in 2023), but they did not provide for the years beyond. As the statement from MAC, the Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association said, “(T)he ongoing erosion of funding that supports local services will be permanent unless the Legislature and the governor fulfill their commitment to find revenue replacements.”

While MAC is not arguing against efforts to combat the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will push lawmakers to permanently replace funds from what has been counties’ most reliable and most relied upon revenue source.

HB 5351 now moves to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign it.

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

 

Jail diversion bills sent to governor

Two MAC-backed bills that create grant programs that would help support local efforts to promote jail diversion and community mobile crisis intervention services cleared the Legislature this week and are on the way to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bills 637 and 638, by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Wayne) and Sen. Rick Outman (R-Montcalm) respectively, would create the programs through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Under SB 638, the behavior health jail diversion grant will provide funds to local units of government to establish or expand behavioral health jail diversion programs in coordination between community agencies and law enforcement agencies.

Under SB 637, the community crisis response grant will distribute grants to local units of government for the purpose of establishing or expanding community-based mobile crisis intervention services and give priority to grant applications that demonstrated a commitment to certain best practices.

The state’s FY22 DHHS budget included $5 million for the Jail Diversion Fund, which is also created under this legislation. MAC supported the bills and supports diversion programs that seek to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness being housed in our county jails.

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

 

Governor creates council to study medical care facility issues

A new state council, which will identify, review, develop and recommend policies, administrative actions, legislative changes and other approaches to support high-quality nursing home care, was created this week through Executive Order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Michigan Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council (NHWSC). According to the order, the council will be housed within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and comprised of state department directors, representatives from the nursing home workforce, representatives of nursing home employers and nursing home residents.

Specifically, the order requires five representatives of nursing home employers, including at least one representative a nursing home administered by a county government. 

The full EO can be found here. Applications to the council are due by Jan. 7, 2022.

For questions on this issue, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org or Renee Beniak at renee@mcmcfc.org

 

MAC announces office schedule for holiday break

MAC announced this week its office hours for the upcoming holiday break.

MAC offices will be closed on the following dates to celebrate the Christmas and New Year’s holidays: Dec. 23 (closed noon to 5 p.m.); Dec. 24; Dec. 27; Dec. 30; and Dec. 31.

MAC will be open on Dec. 28 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Regular office hours resume on Monday, Jan. 3.

Executive Director Stephan Currie and the staff at MAC wish you and your families a safe and pleasant holiday season.

 

Treasury releases details on first responder grants

The Michigan Department of Treasury announced on Wednesday, “In an effort to help local units of government address critical needs in recruiting and training first responders, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Public Act 87 of 2021 that appropriates $5 million to create the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant Program.

“All Michigan cities, villages, townships, counties or fire authorities are eligible to apply for a grant up to $100,000 related to first responder training and recruitment. First responders are police officers, firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), paramedics and local unit of government corrections officers.

“The Michigan Department of Treasury will be working directly with local units of government and other local government partners to implement this grant program.

“Key items for local units of government to remember:

  • A completed application with detailed information must be received by the Michigan Department of Treasury on or before Feb. 15, 2022.
  • The governmental unit must demonstrate how budgeted costs directly relate to recruitment or training of first responders.
  • Priority will be given to projects that will be completed by Sept. 30, 2022.
  • Projects are funded on a reimbursement basis.
  • $2 million will be designated for communities with a per capita property taxable value of less than $15,000, with the remaining funds awarded based on a review of applications and the determination of the effective use of and need for the grant funds.

“During the application review process, applicants may be contacted for clarification. The Michigan Department of Treasury reserves the right to award funds for an amount other than requested.

“Applications will be selected for funding by the Michigan Department of Treasury based on program purpose, eligibility and criteria. Projects are funded on a reimbursement basis.”

To learn more about the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant Program, go to Michigan.gov/FRG. Questions should be directed to TreasLocalGov@michigan.gov.

 

NACo now accepting interim policy resolutions for 2022 Legislative Conference

In preparation for the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2022 Legislative Conference, held in Washington D.C. on Feb. 12-16, NACo members are invited to submit interim policy resolutions.

The NACo resolutions process provides members with the ability to participate in national policy decisions affecting county governments. During the Legislative Conference, NACo’s ten policy steering committees and Board of Directors consider legislative and policy resolutions that will guide NACo advocacy until the NACo Annual Conference in July 2022.

Interim policy resolutions provide an opportunity for members to address policy issues at the Legislative Conference that were not discussed at the previous Annual Conference. Interim resolutions may not overturn existing policy resolutions, and will expire at the 2022 Annual Conference in Adams County, Colo.

The American County Platform and the association’s policy resolutions are carefully considered statements of the needs and interests of county governments throughout the nation. These policy statements serve as a guide for NACo members and staff to advance the association’s federal policy agenda before Congress, the White House and federal agencies. Please refer to the comprehensive overview of NACo’s policy resolution process here.

 

Celebrate your county’s innovations in 2022 NACo Achievement Awards

Applications are now open for the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2022 Achievement Awards. Please join us in celebrating 52 years of county innovation by applying today.

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. By participating, your county can earn national recognition.

NACo will highlight the 18 “best of category” winners, as well as feature all winners in NACo materials and online. We also provide a customizable press release for you to share the good news with the media and residents.

Early Bird Application Deadline: March 4, 2022 (save $25 off the application fee)

Regular Application Deadline: March 31, 2022

For more information, please review the Achievement Awards online brochure, or email awards@naco.org with any questions.

 

House passes bills for 4-year terms; historic change headed to governor

The largest change affecting county commissioners since 1968 is headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk after the House of Representatives approved this week two bills to adopt four-year terms for commissioners.

Whitmer is expected to sign Senate Bill 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), which cleared the House this week on 75-29 votes. The legislation would start four-year terms with the 2024 election cycle.

“Deena (Bosworth) and I have been at MAC for 10 years and this has been at the top of the MAC to-do list every day,” said Executive Director Stephan Currie. “This is such an exciting victory after so many years of work in the halls of the Capitol. All credit goes to Deena and Meghann; Board Director Jim Storey for his consistent advocacy and testimony before committees; and, most importantly, our members who kept reminding legislators of the need for this change.”

Since 1968, voters in Michigan have elected county commissioners to two-year terms from geographic districts. Michigan has been one of only five states that has required two-year terms for all commissioners, even though all other elected county offices have four-year terms.

“This is just one of those moments you hope to have in your career in public advocacy,” said Bosworth. “I want to thank the bill sponsors, Sens. McBroom and Moss, and all of the county boards who passed resolutions in support of our effort. The power of MAC is in our members and that fact shone through this year on this issue.”

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

Veteran Property Tax Exemption reimbursement bills introduced

This week, Sen. Bumstead (R-Newaygo) introduced a two-bill package that would provide relief to local governments by reimbursing them for their loss of property tax revenue due to the 2013 legislation granting disabled veterans a property tax exemption. Senate Bill 783 and Senate Bill 784, co-sponsored by 11 other senators from both sides of the aisle would turn the property tax exemption into a refundable income tax credit payable to the local tax collecting unit.

The legislation would still require the veteran to file an affidavit with the local tax collecting unit, the only difference is that the form will change slightly, allowing the local unit to submit for the refundable credit to cover the deferred property taxes.  Upon a payment by the state, the local unit will then be required to provide written notification to the individual who filed the affidavit explaining the payment or rejection by the state. 

This approach would not disrupt the current process veterans go through to get the exemption, it simply requires the local unit to defer property tax collection until the Department of Treasury dispenses the payment for reimbursement.  All 100% disabled veterans, and the widowed spouses of a 100% disabled veteran, that previously claimed the veteran property tax exemption prior to January 1, 2023 are still eligible for the same benefits under the new income tax credit that goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

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

Updated: Rules for open meetings revert to old form on Jan. 1

Public meetings in Michigan governed by the state’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) will revert to pre-COVID rules on Jan. 1, 2022. This means that commissioners cannot participate in a county board session as a voting member via electronic means, with only one narrow exception.

As detailed in a new memo from the law firm of Cohl, Stoker & Toskey, P.C., the permissive rules for remote participation granted under Public Act 254 of 2020 expire at the end of 2021. At that point, the only way a commissioner can participate remotely as a voting member is if the member must be physically absent due to military duty.

Boards, of course, can continue to livestream their public sessions. And commissioners who cannot be physically present can utilize remote means to listen to the meeting, but they cannot participate or vote as part of the board.

The memo reminds county boards to ensure their board rules, procedures and by-laws are modified to be consistent with the Open Meetings Act.

House Bill 5467, introduced by Rep. Phil Green (R-Tuscola), would allow for some members of the public body to participate remotely where there is otherwise a quorum physically present at the in-person meeting.

However the language as currently proposed expressly prohibits the remote participant from voting, which is inconsistent with the intent to return to the previous system whereby a remote participant could vote so long as there was a quorum physically present.

MAC has expressed our interest to the bill sponsor in getting the legislation to return to the old “pre-covid” system whereby a member for any reason could participate remotely, including voting, where a quorum was physically present.  While there may be opportunity to revert to allow this type of meeting option, it will not be possible to complete necessary statutory changes prior to year-end.

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

Healthcare spending bill in House Appropriations Committee 

Another supplemental proposal was offered this week to the House Appropriations Committee – this time related to healthcare spending. House Bill 5523, introduced by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia), appropriates $1.2 billion toward efforts addressing health care recruitment and retention, as well as funding COVID testing in schools and supporting monoclonal antibody sites. The funds are all from federal dollars, with $400M from the state allocation through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Specifically, the proposal includes:

– $667 million would be allotted overall for COVID testing, of which $300 million directed to purchase COVID-19 tests= for schools

– $300 million to a Healthcare Recruitment and Retention Reserve Fund, of which $150.0 million would be available and the remaining $150.0 million is not available to be expended until funds are approved through the legislative transfer process.

– $50 million to establish COVID-19 early treatment sites.

– $25 million to purchase additional monoclonal treatment, in addition to federally allocated supply

–  $10 million in a competitive grant program for nursing facilities to convert multi-resident rooms into single resident rooms. Grant awards would reimburse 50% of the cost.

A full list of details can be found here. The bill hailed praise from the healthcare sector, but with few remaining session days, the bill will likely not pass prior to the end of the legislative year.

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

MAC opposes public record fee bills

A bill to limit the fees paid for property records passed out of committee this week and is on the House floor. HB 4730, sponsored by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia), would limit the revenue county treasurers collect for the dissemination of records for parcels of property. The bill was originally introduced as part of a package that would have carried the same limitations on fees for other county electronic records, but has since been scaled back to just fees charged by treasurers. 
 
Currently, a county treasurer can charge 25 cents per parcel record, which is not easily separated from the entirety of the parcel records, so it comes in a batch. The bill on the other hand, would state that the qualified data file would have to include at least four of the required fields instead of having to include all of them in the records for each parcel of property. In other words, it limits how much they can charge for parcel records. Zillow is the primary advocate for this bill, seeking less costly access to the records that the treasurers compile, record, keep and update. 
 
MAC continues to work with other organizations representing county-wide elected officials effected by this legislation and is currently opposed along with the Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds and the Michigan Association of County Treasurers. 
 
For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

The Michigan Department of Treasury announces the next Chart Chat webinar 

The Michigan Department of Treasury is pleased to announce our next Chart Chat webinar at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 16, 2021.

The Chart Chat Webinar Series provides updates to local government officials on accounting-related topics, updates from the Michigan Department of Treasury and information on sound fiscal management.

This Chart Chat webinar will cover:

  • Requirements for Accepting Federal Funds
  • Fiscal Indicators – A Recap of All Four and How They Work Together
  • First Responders Grant Program

To register, please visit:

https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5a_ki0onSvWK9R1_MI-umQ

We are currently accepting submissions for the questions and answers portion of the webinar. To submit a question, please email LAFD_Audits@Michigan.gov.

Correction: Michigan’s 83 counties will have 619 commissioners in 2023

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 Nov. 19 Legislative Update had incorrect figures for Oceana County, which changed the total.

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 5 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. See full corrected list here.

MDHHS expands Opioid Health Home services to additional counties

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has expanded the Opioid Health Home (OHH) initiative to more Michigan counties to provide intensive care management and care coordination services for Medicaid beneficiaries with an opioid use disorder (OUD), a move applauded by MAC this week.

“The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved Michigan’s State Plan Amendment (SPA) to expand its Opioid Health Home initiative into PIHP Regions 6, 7 and 10. The expanded SPA will allow thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries meeting the eligibility criteria to receive OHH services,” MDHHS reported.

A Health Home is a benefit awarded to Medicaid beneficiaries who have a diagnosed with an Opioid Use Disorder and reside within one of the following Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan (PIHP) regions/counties:

  • PIHP Region 1 (counties in the Upper Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 2 (21 northern-most counties of the Lower Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 4 (specifically Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties)
  • PIHP Region 6 (Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Washtenaw)
  • PIHP Region 7 (Wayne)
  • PIHP Region 9 (Macomb County)
  • PIHP Region 10 (Genesee, Lapeer, Sanilac, St. Clair)

“Individuals who meet the criteria are able to work with a team of providers who will attend to a beneficiary’s complete health and social needs. Participation is voluntary and enrolled beneficiaries may opt out at any time.”

“MAC supports additional and expanded services of this program, which has been extremely successful in many counties so far,” said Governmental Affairs Associate Meghann Keit-Corrion.

For OHH-specific information, including eligibility and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/OHH

Staff picks

House to vote on 4-year terms next week

MAC continues to urge county commissioners to reach out to their House members to convey their support for two bills that will reinstate county commission terms to four years from the current two- year term. 

Michigan is only one of five states in the nation with two-year terms, which was statutorily changed by the legislature in the 1960’s.  All other county offices carry a four-year term, the same holds true for township offices. 

In an era where critical decisions are made by commissioners, now is the time to recognize the importance of a consistent government structure built on institutional knowledge, public service and accountability to our residents. 

SB 242, by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson), and SB 245, by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Oakland), are tentatively scheduled for final passage in the State House next week after receiving committee approval in early November.  The bills have already passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority. 

Please express your support for four-year terms by utilizing our MAC’s digital advocacy tool which will send a prewritten email of support for Senate Bills 242 and 245 to your representative.

MAC also thanks the 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, Wayne and Wexford. If your county has passed a resolution of support, but is not listed here, please contact Hannah Sweeney at sweeney@micounties.org

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

MAC Board members, staff urge legislators to act on ARP funding

Rep. Beth Griffin meets with MAC on Nov. 30 to discuss the Prosperity Roadmap. Seated (l-r) are Stan Ponstein of Kent, Phil Kuyers of Ottawa, Deena Bosworth and Jim Storey of Allegan.

Led by MAC Board President Phil Kuyers of Ottawa County, a MAC contingent joined a Lobby Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday in support of the Prosperity Roadmap proposed by the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan.

MAC would like to thank the following board members for spending the day advocating in Lansing for the swift appropriation of federal funds as detailed in our Prosperity Road Map: President Phil Kuyers, Immediate Past President Veronica Kleinfelt. First Vice President Stan Ponstein, Second Vice President Eileen Kowall, Director Jim Storey, and Director Melissa Daub.

The goal of the Coalition is to encourage the Michigan Legislature and Whitmer administration to work swiftly to appropriate Michigan’s $6.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

MAC is asking all county leaders to join us in advocacy and contact their state representative and state senator using the tool here to encourage them to embrace the Prosperity Roadmap and remind them why we cannot delay investing in our communities.

The longer Michigan delays in investing our ARP allocation, the further we fall behind our neighbors. Projects will take more time to initiate, and the eventual overall impact of our investments will be less. We don’t have the time to wait for an ideal situation to act on investment for our communities — the moment is now.

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

House committee OKs $308M bill for first responder spending

In bipartisan fashion, the House approved a $368.5 million public safety supplemental spending bill this week. Of the total, nearly $213 million is from the state General Fund and the other $155 million from the state allocation of the American Rescue Plan funds. House Bill 5522, by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Genesee), largely focuses on law enforcement recruitment and retention, as well as first responder mental health funding:

  • $57.5 million to incentivize out-of-state officers to move to Michigan; the grant funds have various provisions such as:
  1. paying for 2 years of a maximum contribution into health savings accounts
  2. if the officer is not vested in the defined contribution plan, cover the forfeited employer contribution due to relocation
  3. reimburse fees they paid for hunting and/or fishing licenses and recreation passports
  4. law enforcement agencies that have a vaccine mandate policy will not be eligible to receive grant funding
  • $7.5 million in grants for behavioral health providers for services to first responder an public safety staff
  • $10 million for public safety retention bonuses up to $5,000
  • $5 million for fire and EMS retention bonuses up to $5,000
  • $10 million in grant to local community policing programs
  • $10 million to grant signing bonuses, up to $5,000, for new or out-of-state officers and first responders
  • $11 million in grants for local public safety body-worn camera programs

The House increased funding to the committee-passed version for school resource officers from $10 million to $50 million in the wake of the shooting this week at Oxford High School.

More details are outlined here on the proposal that now heads to the Senate for review.

Senate passes extension of 9-1-1 sunset

The Senate passed, with a unanimous vote, an extension of the sunset on 9-1-1 enabling act and the state surcharges that help to fund this critical public safety service.

House Bill 5026, sponsored by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Ionia), 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 strongly supports this legislation and appreciates Rep. Calley’s leadership and the swift action of the Legislature to ensure an extension prior to the year-end deadline. The bill will now go before the Governor for final signature.

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

House grants Secondary Road Patrol annual waiver

An annual waiver for secondary road patrol (SRP) was granted by the House this week under House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 14, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson).

HCR 14 would waive the maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement mandated for county sheriff’s departments as a condition of receiving funding under the SRP Program for FY 2021-22. To be eligible to receive SRP grants, each county must satisfy a maintenance of effort requirement established as the number of county-funded road patrol deputies employed on October 1, 1978.

According to the House Fiscal Agency, the statewide MOE requirement is 1,043 FTE county-funded road patrol deputies, and during FY 2019-20 the actual number of county-funded road patrol deputies totaled 2,307.4, with 115 funded through SRP. While the total number of statewide county-funded deputies exceed the statewide MOE requirement, four counties (Branch, Iosco, Shiawassee, and Wayne) still fell below their individual MOE requirements, thus triggering the need for the legislative waiver.

The resolution would also waive the MOE requirement to allow cities and villages to receive road patrol services from the county sheriff’s departments, which would allow them to continue to achieve local cost efficiencies through those joint arrangements.

After years of needing the waiver, Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Kent) also introduced a more permanent solution under House Bill 5569. The bill would update the MOE requirement to be at levels on October 1, 1978, or October 1, 2021, whichever is less.

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

Senate passes $3.3 billion water supplemental budget bill

Senate Bill 565, sponsored by Sen. Bumstead (R – Newaygo) unanimously passed the Senate this week, allocating over $3.3 billion for investment in water quality, water management, lead line replacement, and dam safety.

Specifically, the bill allocates funding for:

  • Watershed planning $10 million
  • Culvert replacement $15 million
  • Clean water infrastructure $235 million
  • Dam risk reduction revolving loan fund $650 million
  • Drinking water program $400 million
  • Emergency dam safety $30 million
  • Failing septic system loans $35 million
  • Great Lakes water authority $400 million
  • Healthy hydration $85 million
  • Lead service line replacement $1 billion
  • PFAS remediation grants $100 million
  • SAW grants $100 million
  • Clean water infrastructure grants $200 million

The funding for these programs comes primarily from federal funds from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Great Lakes Water Quality Bond and $680 million in State General Fund.

Individually and as part of the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan, we have been advocating for the movement of supplemental bills that will help our counties and communities tackle the many challenges they face in addressing water quality and water management.  For more information about the Coalition advocacy efforts please see the MI Road Map.

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.  MAC anticipates the bill will change based on different priorities of House members, but the ball is now rolling, and we are encouraged to see movement. The sooner the bill gets to the Governor’s desk, the sooner our counties can access funds to help with our water infrastructure.

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

The Michigan Department of Treasury announces the next Chart Chat webinar 

The Michigan Department of Treasury is pleased to announce our next Chart Chat webinar at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 16, 2021.

The Chart Chat Webinar Series provides updates to local government officials on accounting-related topics, updates from the Michigan Department of Treasury and information on sound fiscal management.

This Chart Chat webinar will cover:

  • Requirements for Accepting Federal Funds
  • Fiscal Indicators – A Recap of All Four and How They Work Together
  • First Responders Grant Program

To register, please visit:

https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5a_ki0onSvWK9R1_MI-umQ

We are currently accepting submissions for the questions and answers portion of the webinar. To submit a question, please email LAFD_Audits@Michigan.gov.

Correction: Michigan’s 83 counties will have 619 commissioners in 2023

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 Nov. 19 Legislative Update had incorrect figures for Oceana County, which changed the total.

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 5 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. See full corrected list here.

Rules for open meetings revert to old form on Jan. 1

Public meetings in Michigan governed by the state’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) will revert to pre-COVID rules on Jan. 1, 2022. This means that commissioners cannot participate in a county board session as a voting member via electronic means, with only one narrow exception.

As detailed in a new memo from the law firm of Cohl, Stoker & Toskey, P.C., the permissive rules for remote participation granted under Public Act 254 of 2020 expire at the end of 2021. At that point, the only way a commissioner can participate remotely as a voting member is if the member must be physically absent due to military duty.

Boards, of course, can continue to livestream their public sessions. And commissioners who cannot be physically present can utilize remote means to listen to the meeting, but they cannot participate or vote as part of the board.

The memo reminds county boards to ensure their board rules, procedures and by-laws are modified to be consistent with the Open Meetings Act.

MDHHS expands Opioid Health Home services to additional counties

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has expanded the Opioid Health Home (OHH) initiative to more Michigan counties to provide intensive care management and care coordination services for Medicaid beneficiaries with an opioid use disorder (OUD), a move applauded by MAC this week.

“The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved Michigan’s State Plan Amendment (SPA) to expand its Opioid Health Home initiative into PIHP Regions 6, 7 and 10. The expanded SPA will allow thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries meeting the eligibility criteria to receive OHH services,” MDHHS reported.

A Health Home is a benefit awarded to Medicaid beneficiaries who have a diagnosed with an Opioid Use Disorder and reside within one of the following Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan (PIHP) regions/counties:

  • PIHP Region 1 (counties in the Upper Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 2 (21 northern-most counties of the Lower Peninsula)
  • PIHP Region 4 (specifically Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties)
  • PIHP Region 6 (Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Washtenaw)
  • PIHP Region 7 (Wayne)
  • PIHP Region 9 (Macomb County)
  • PIHP Region 10 (Genesee, Lapeer, Sanilac, St. Clair)

“Individuals who meet the criteria are able to work with a team of providers who will attend to a beneficiary’s complete health and social needs. Participation is voluntary and enrolled beneficiaries may opt out at any time.”

“MAC supports additional and expanded services of this program, which has been extremely successful in many counties so far,” said Governmental Affairs Associate Meghann Keit-Corrion.

For OHH-specific information, including eligibility and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/OHH

Staff picks

 

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.

 

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