Izzo added to 2020 Virtual Annual Conference line-up

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

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

Highlights of the event include:

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

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

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

Start your registration with our Attendee Packet.

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

 

Podcast 83 answers your questions on COVID aid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast 83 is now sponsored by DTE Energy.

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

 

MAC continues push for trial court fee authority

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

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

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

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

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

 

Single candidates featured in MAC Board elections

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

Board candidates are:

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

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

 

Election security is theme of NACo, MAC webinars

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

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

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

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

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

 

MCMCFC leader appointed to COVID task force

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

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

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

 

 

Treasury webinar details deadlines, guidance on COVID funds      

Counties confront a July 17 deadline to apply for reimbursements for public safety and public health payroll and benefit expenses for the employees substantially dedicated to responding or mitigating COVID-19 for the months of April and May 2020, Treasury officials told attendees of a webinar on Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Treasury presented information on the application process for counties and other local governments to receive funds appropriated through Senate Bill 690 from the $3 billion Michigan received in federal CARES Act funds. For those that were unable to watch the hour-long webinar, you can view the recording here.

The department also covered the water utility assistance program, the first responder hazard pay program and the $200 million for reimbursement of public safety and public health payroll and benefit costs for April 2020 through July 31, 2020. 

In response to a MAC question, Treasury said facility staff that have been deployed for cleaning, sanitizing or modifying work spaces to protect against the spread of the virus would be considered eligible as part of protecting public health and safety. If not all of the $200 million dedicated for this reimbursement is utilized in the first round of applications due on July 31, then a second round will be announced in August.  Round 2 will cover the April and May expenses not already reimbursed and any of the same expenses incurred during the months of June and July. These funds will be prorated based on the percentage of the total filed claims, so it may not reimburse 100 percent of the expenses submitted. Distribution of the funds for the first round is anticipated to go out by Sept. 18, 2020, and the second round by Nov. 7, 2020. 

As for the $100 million allocated for a $1,000 per first responder hazard pay program, Treasury said the application period is now through Sept. 30, 2020, but is on a first come, first served basis.

Although MAC read the boilerplate language in Senate Bill 690 to indicate that the funds were either payments ahead of expenditure or reimbursement for those that had the funds to give, the department has not made that clear at this point. It was indicted during the webinar that the payments must be made to the first responders by Sept. 30, 2020. However, the checks from the State to the county would go out no later than Nov. 14, 2020. This would not indicate a pre-payment program. A commitment was made by the presenters to look more into this process. Please remember, these funds are first come, first served, so get your applications moving.

MAC will be hosting a webinar its own webinar at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 13 to discuss these issues in more detail. Click here to register.

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

 

July 13 webinar will brief members on COVID aid details

MAC’s Governmental Affairs Team will brief members on the latest developments in federal and state assistance in combating COVID-19 during a webinar on Monday, July 13.

Click here to register. Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible.

The briefing will start at 11 a.m. and will include:

  • Details on funding from Senate Bill 690
  • Details on the FY20 state budget deal, including the impacts on county revenue sharing
  • A review of the guidance from the Michigan Department of Treasury on filing for reimbursement via federal funds out of the CARES Act
  • A general overview of CARES Act dollars being spent in Michigan

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

 

Registration opens for 2020 Virtual Annual Conference

County officials are encouraged to register now for MAC’s Virtual Annual Conference, which will include events on days between Aug. 18 and Aug. 27.

The virtual event replaces MAC’s traditional summer conference, which was shelved by the MAC Board of Directors due to the public health circumstances imposed by the coronavirus.

Highlights of the event include:

  • Plenary sessions that will feature MAC’s Legislative Update, the semi-annual “State of MAC” report and an address by MAC Board President Veronica Klinefelt
  • The Annual Business Meeting, during which members will vote on MAC’s policy platforms for the 2020-21 year
  • At least six policy workshops that will focus heavily on the implications of COVID-19 for counties in the coming months
  • Regional caucuses that will elect members to fill six seats on the MAC Board of Directors
  • A Virtual Exhibitor Show that will allow attendees to select up to five firms from which to hear 10-minute presentations

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

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

For more information, send an email to conference@micounties.org.

 

Summer property tax deferment bills vetoed

Bills that would have allowed individuals and businesses to delay, without penalty, their summer 2020 property tax payments were vetoed by the governor this week. In her veto letter, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cited constitutional reasons and overwhelming opposition from schools and local units of government for her decision.

House Bills 5761 and 5810, by Rep. James Lower (R-Ionia), passed both legislative chambers with bi-partisan support. There is an attempt to advance Senate Bill 943, by Sen. Peter MacGregor (R-Kent), to the governor, with changes to the statutory language that may address her concerns. The bill has passed the Senate and is currently in the House. If an agreement with the administration can be reached, MAC anticipates the bill being passed by the House and sent to the governor the week of July 20, 2020. 

If she immediately signs the bill, however, it will be a very short window in some jurisdictions for qualified taxpayers to submit their applications before the property tax bills are due. 

MAC remains neutral on the legislation until such time as we have greater assurances that the Michigan Treasury Department can and will absorb any of the costs associated with administering the program.

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

 

Deadline approaching on opioid litigation

MAC members that are part of the national prescription opiate litigation (case 17-md-2804) multi-district litigation against opioid manufactures, distributors and retailers received notice of a proof of claim deadline on July 30.

“The deadline for cities, counties, municipalities, or other local governments to file proofs of claim in the Purdue Bankruptcy Cases is July 30, 2020, at 5 p.m. EDT. Any Negotiating Class member that wishes to file a claim must do so by that date. Negotiating Class counsel will NOT be filing claims for class members. However, we are advised that an Ad Hoc committee of governmental and other contingent litigation claimants has been formed in the Bankruptcy. That ad hoc committee may be sending additional information concerning the claim process.”

More information can be found in the detailed memo and online here

Those counties that have retained the Bernstein and Weitz & Luxenberg team as counsel will be preparing the form and submitting it on the counties’ behalf.  If you have not retained one of those firms, MAC recommends consulting with legal counsel on the filing notice as soon as possible.

 

July 23 webinar will go over federal COVID grants for jails

Learn about options and details for gaining federal help to respond to COVID-19 in your jails during a July 23 digital Town Hall co-hosted by MAC, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.

The free event will run from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will focus on local grants and sub-grants of the federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding. Get your questions answered and hear ideas and guidance from the about using the funds in ways that will pay dividends over time.

Speakers will be:

  • Nancy Becker Bennett, division director, Grants and Community Services Division, Michigan State Police
  • Bridget McCormack, chief justice, Michigan Supreme Court
  • Sheryl Kubiak, dean & professor, School of Social Work, Wayne State University

Click here to register.

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

 

State board seeks input on local finance reporting

The Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act (PA 202 of 2017) requires the Municipal Stability Board to develop best practices, approve of corrective action plans and to monitor those plans. At its June 17, 2020, meeting, the board proposed changes to the Corrective Action Plan Monitoring (CAP): Policies and Procedures document and are seeking public comment.

The proposed revisions are technical changes to the review process timelines outlined in the document. These proposed changes will provide flexibility to the Board in their review of CAP monitoring certifications. These proposed changes allow the board to limit the number of local governments to be reviewed in a month, enabling added focus and support to be given to each local government during their CAP monitoring certification review.

Provide comment on these changes to the board at Treas-MunicipalStabilityBoard@michigan.gov by July 22, 2020.

 

Expungement bill moves out of Senate committee

A House bill that that would automatically set aside certain felony and misdemeanor convictions moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. The committee, however, did add language to create a specified fund to cover, upon appropriations, costs for implementation, systems upgrades and staffing needs. MAC has requested clarification language to be included to ensure that any cost at the local level are also eligible under the fund.

Still, MAC testified against House Bill 4980, by Rep. Eric Leutheiser (R-Branch), as a large concern outlined in written comments provided on June 11 has not yet be resolved: The legislation requires the Michigan State Police (MSP) database to set aside eligible convictions. However, there is no notification requirement on MSP to send that information to the local clerk and courts. Therefore, MAC is concerned some records may be public at the local level, while MSP has sealed the records. This inconsistency is contrary to the goal of the legislation and causes liability concerns for counties.

Also in committee, Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Eaton) offered language that allows a court to reinstate a conviction that was set aside, if a court has determined the individual has not made a good-faith effort to pay restitution.

The bill waits action on the Senate floor. The Senate has adjourned until late July.

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

 

Senate approves summer property tax deferment bills

Individuals and businesses are one step closer to delaying their summer 2020 property tax payments to March 1, 2021, without penalty after a two-bill package gained Senate approval this week.

House Bills 5761 and 5810, by Rep. James Lower (R-Ionia), state that entities wishing to delay payments must submit an affidavit to their local tax collecting unit attesting to financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic by Aug. 28, 2020, to qualify.  Once a local unit has collected the affidavits, it would submit those to the county for tallying and submission to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Then, it would be incumbent upon the state to borrow enough money to make up for those unpaid taxes for all the taxing units, so locals do not run in to significant cash flow issues during the deferment period. 

MAC supported the concept of the legislation. The bills now move to the governor for her signature.

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

 

Elections panel takes testimony on absentee ballots

The clerk/register of deeds for Kent County told the Senate Elections Committee this week that she thinks the mailing of absentee voter applications to all voters is illegal and places additional burdens on county and local clerks.

Kent’s Lisa Lyons made the comments during a hearing by the committee on recent policy changes and actions of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Under Proposal 3 of 2018, Lyons said every voter has a right to cast an absentee ballot. However, sahe said no elected official can send a ballot unless the voter has required it verbally or in writing per case law.

Additionally, the committee approved Senate Bills 977-78, by Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lapeer), which would: make it a misdemeanor to knowingly making a false statement on an absent voter ballot application; make it a felony for knowingly submitting an absent voter ballot application containing or using another person’s name and personal identification information; and would make it a felony for knowingly submitting an application with the intent to obtain multiple ballots for a person. The Michigan Association of County Clerks supports the bills.

Full video of the committee hearing can be found here.

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

 

Law enforcement grant applications due on Aug. 14

County law enforcement and courts that were previously ineligible for direct Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Fund (CESF) grants can now apply for such funds until Aug. 14 at noon.

The Michigan State Police advises that the grant performance period spans from March 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, and all work must directly relate to the prevention of, preparation for or response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Sheriff, Jail and County Prosecutor Allocations can be found here.

County Allocations for Circuit/District/Probate courts can be found here.

Applications are due on Aug. 14. Forms and Instructions can be found here

 

MAC offices will be closed on July 3

MAC’s offices in Lansing will be closed on Friday, July 3 to observe the federal holiday for the Fourth of July.

Also, be advised that there will not be a Legislative Update on July 3, due to the national holiday.

Legislative Updates will resume on Friday, July 10.

 

Legislature backs nearly $1 billion for COVID responses

A large infusion of aid for local governments, first responders and health workers lacks only Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature after the Legislature approved Senate Bill 690 this week.

The bill, by Sen Jim Stamas (R-Midland), includes $880 million drawn from federal revenue allocated to Michigan through the CARES Act that established a $150 billion fund for state and local governments.

(Learn more about the legislation via a video episode of Podcast 83.)

Of this sum, local governments that didn’t receive direct federal aid would get $200 million. To receive funds, counties must submit by July 17 their public safety and public health payroll expenditures for the months of April and May. Expenditures are not eligible if they have been, or will be, reimbursed by any other federal funds (FEMA, HHS, DOJ, etc.).

Another $100 million is set aside for hazard pay for first responders. For these funds, counties must apply for payment or reimbursement through the Michigan Department of Treasury by Sept. 30. Payments and reimbursements will be made on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible employees include law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, 911 operators, local corrections officers, airport public safety officers and ambulance operations personnel.

Direct care workers, including those in county medical care facilities, will see a $2 per hour temporary increase beginning July 1 and running through Sept. 30. The $120 million set aside for this also will cover costs incurred by the employer, including payroll taxes, due to the increase. Eligible workers include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, competency-evaluated nursing assistants and respiratory therapists.

Other key elements in the bill are:

  • $25 million in grants for PPE, testing and testing equipment to priority providers
  • $60 million for a rental assistance program
  • $155 million in small business restart grants
  • $29 million for additional unemployment insurance agency employees
  • $1.4 million for the Bureau of Community and Health Systems to conduct COVID-19 infection control surveys in medical care facilities

The bill was sent to the governor for final approval, and she has released a statement of support, while also alluding to additional relief in the future:

“While it is good news that more than $850 million is now appropriated for additional relief across the state, much more work lies ahead to ensure that schools and local communities will have the funding and resources they need.”

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

 

Podcast 83 discusses eventful legislative week

Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit of MAC’s Governmental Affairs Team run down an eventful week in Lansing in a video episode of Podcast 83, MAC’s podcast on all news and things county-related in Michigan.

To view the newest episode, visit the Podcast 83 page on the MAC website.

 

Virtual options under Open Meetings Act extended to July 31

County boards can continue to hold public meetings remotely under the Open Meetings Act due to a new order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Thursday night. Executive Order 129 extends a previous EO allowing such meetings during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to July 31, 2020.

“As we continue our efforts to flatten the curve and prevent a second wave of COVID-19, it’s important for public bodies to be able to continue holding meetings and the public to participate in those meetings,” Governor Whitmer said in a statement. “By allowing for remote meetings, public bodies and residents can continue practicing safe social distancing while also ensuring meetings remain open, accessible and transparent to the public.” 

Public bodies must meet the following criteria when holding a public meeting remotely:   

  • Ensure two-way communication for members and the public to hear and address each other when speaking.   
  • Provide adequate notice to the public of the meeting.   
  • Post a public meeting notice on their website.   
  • Permit participants to record or broadcast the public meeting.    
  • Allow participants to address the public body during a public comment period.   

For technical tips on conducting remote sessions, visit MAC’s COVID-19 Resources Page

 

Senate votes to reset FY21 budget deadline

A law requiring the Legislature to deliver a budget to the governor by July 1 would be set aside for the fiscal 2021 budget under a bill approved by the Senate this week.

Senate Bill 963, by Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-Ingham), would nullify the requirements of Public Act 160 of 2019 for this cycle, in deference to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on tax collections.

The rules under PA 160 would resume next year.

The delay measure is now before the Michigan House of Representatives.

The state’s budget year starts on Oct. 1 and state leaders already agreed to hold a special Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference in August to give lawmakers a better idea of how much revenue will be available for the FY21 budget.

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

 

Summer property tax deferment bills pass House

Individuals and businesses could delay their summer 2020 property tax payments to March 1, 2021, without penalty under a two-bill package passed by the House unanimously this week.

House Bills 5761 and 5810, by Rep. James Lower (R-Ionia), state that entities wishing to delay payments must submit an affidavit to their local tax collecting unit attesting to financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic by Aug. 28, 2020, to qualify.  Once a local unit has collected the affidavits, it would submit those to the county for tallying and submission to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Then, it would be incumbent upon the state to borrow enough money to make up for those unpaid taxes for all the taxing units, so locals do not run in to significant cash flow issues during the deferment period. 

MAC has worked closely with the bill sponsor, the Michigan Association of County Treasurers, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the other local government associations in the development of the legislation. Although significant progress has been made on the bills, MAC remains neutral on the legislation until such time as we have greater assurances that Treasury can and will absorb any of the costs associated with administering the program.

The bills move to the Senate and could be reviewed as early as next week.

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

 

CoPro+ launches PPE Program to save counties money

CoPro+, MAC’s cooperative purchasing program especially designed for counties and other public entities, has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a robust new program to give public entities the best possible prices and services on Personal Protective Equipment.

Visit the CoPro+ homepage to start learning details about the program and how it can serve your needs.

The cooperative also is expanding its social media presence. Look for information on new vendors and deals via Facebook and Instagram.

Please check back to our site regularly for new details on deals and ordering.

 

Ballot experts talk ‘shoebox’ voters and more on Camp Counties webinar

Who are “shoebox voters”? What are the critical two weeks in any millage election campaign? Due to Proposal 3 of 2018 and the coronavirus pandemic, what percentage of voters are expected to cast ballots by mail in August and November?

These questions and more were tackled this week by Adrian Hemond and Scott Bean of Grassroots Midwest in the second of five Camp Counties webinars, “Planning and Winning Millage Elections in a COVID World.”

The webinars, supported by Enbridge, Envirologic and other corporate partners, were started to replace MAC’s regular Regional Summits, which were cancelled due to the coronavirus.

To see the election presentation, and register for upcoming events, visit the camp page on the MAC website. All webinars are free for MAC members.

 

State orders more COVID testing in medical homes

New COVID testing requirements for residents of medical care facilities were ordered this week by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The order, effective immediately, requires such facilities to test in the following manner:

“i. Initial testing of all residents and staff;

  1. Testing of all new or returning residents during intake unless tested in the last 72 hours;

iii. Testing any resident or staff member with symptoms or suspected exposure;

  1. Weekly testing of all residents and staff in facilities with any positive cases among residents or staff, until 14 days after the last new positive;
  2. Testing of all staff in Regions 1 through 5 and 7, at least once between the date of this order and July 3, 2020;
  3. Weekly testing of all staff in regions of medium or higher risk on the MI Safe Start Map”

To see which region your county is it, please check the MI Start map.

The order also requires facilities to complete a plan for conducting testing consistent with the above requirements, no later than June 22. The plans must be executed no later than June 29.

Failure to comply with the testing order is “subject to a $1,000 fine for each violation or for each day that a violation continues. Any violation of the order by a facility regulated by LARA shall be referred to the agency for determination whether to pursue additional enforcement action as it deems appropriate.”

Also, signed by the governor this week was an extension of “Enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.” EO 123 continues to require transfer to a regional hub if a dedicated unit is not available and provide requirements facilities must meet such as canceling all communal dining. The order continues through July 12. 

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

 

Indigent Defense Commission approves FY21 grant contract

An indigent services grant contract for fiscal 2021 was approved by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (attached) this week.

The new contract reflects changes developed in conjunction with MAC and member counties and includes removal of the excess grant from the previous year to the total authorized budget on page 1. Removing this allows contracts to be executed in a timelier manner, as statute does not require excess funding to be reported until Oct. 31. Any unused funds will be reduced in the second and third disbursements equally.

The disbursement schedule is unchanged, with 50 percent advanced within 15 days of the executed agreement, and then two 25 percent payments on May 15 and Aug. 14 in 2021.  See letter to stakeholders.

The new contract also ensures that county-commission disputes or unresolved documentation issues do not hold up funding for uncontested services or the issuance of grant contracts. Some counties have encountered problems in the past due to disputes over a couple of line items that held up the larger portion of their funding.

The commission also began its review of compliance planning and cost analysis of local systems. That work will continue at its next meeting on Aug. 18. The meeting packet can be found here. The commission meeting was also recorded and can be viewed at the commission site.

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

 

Grants available for Child/Parent Legal Representation program

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is inviting each circuit court that did not apply for the FY20 IV-E Child and Parent Legal Representation (CPLR) Grant to apply for the upcoming fiscal year, 2021. Grant funds will run through Sept. 30, 2021, with an effort to get a start date of those funds as close to Oct. 1, 2020, as possible.

Through this grant, the department will make a claim for title IV-E eligible legal representation expenditures paid by the court. Eligible expenditures are costs from legal representation of a child and/or parent in child protective proceedings where at least one child is placed in out-of-home placement (foster care). MDHHS will determine the type and amount of eligible expenditures and provide the court the applicable title IV-E funds.

Note: If you have been participating in the FY20 CPLR Grant cycle or were on the original FY20 list but withdrew, please look for an email from the MDHHS-IVE-LRGrant@michigan.gov.

Your Intent to Apply for FY21 must be submitted by July 1. Courts will need to estimate the amount the county plans to spend on parent attorneys and LGALs in foster care cases in FY21, but the amount can be changed later if it needs to be.

See an FAQ sheet here.

Questions about the grant application and process may be submitted to MDHHS-IVE-LRGrant@michigan.gov.

 

Michigan Senate endorses flexible use of federal CARES Act dollars

The Michigan Senate called on the federal government to ease restrictions on use of the nearly $3.8 billion Michigan has received from the CARES Act via a resolution passed Thursday.

 Senate Resolution 124, by Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Kent), acknowledges the revenue shortfalls for the state and local units of government and implores Congress to allow the use of these funds to help fill the mounting deficits faced by Michigan and local governments. The State is facing a $3 billion deficit for Fiscal 2020, which ends Sept. 30. Without additional flexibility for CARES funds, severe budget cuts across all levels of government are inevitable.

The Legislature and the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also are in discussions about extending the July 1, 2020, deadline for presenting the governor a budget for fiscal 2021, which begins Oct. 1, ,2020. Due to the uncertainty on revenues for next year and over federal assistance, completing a new budget will challenge state leaders. An additional Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference is scheduled for August. At that time, a clearer picture of the budget damage will provide legislators more guidance on their options.

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

 

MAC expresses concern on expungement bill

Counties have concerns with the mechanics of House Bill 4980, part of a package of bills on expunging criminal records, the Michigan Association of Counties told the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety this week.

The committee took testimony on bills to expand the eligibility to remove specific convictions from the public criminal record. HB 4980 would create an automatic process, in which certain offenses would be set aside without requiring a petition process overseen by a judge. 

Countywide elected officials expressed concerns about the automatic provisions during the committee hearing. Prosecutors from Berrien and Marquette also opposed an automatic process and encouraged the committee to preserve the ability of victims to part of the expungement process. Additionally, the prosecutors pointed out that out-of-state convictions will not be considered under the current bill language. Undersheriff Daniel Pfannes of Wayne County also testified in opposition to HB 4980 on behalf of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association.

In written testimony to the committee, MAC noted that recent versions of the bill require certain records in the Michigan State Police (MSP) database to be set aside after a period of seven or 10 years. However, nothing in the bill requires MSP to then transfer a notification to the local court that these records are sealed. Therefore, the record would still be accessible through the court or county clerk. Additionally, changes to state-administered databases may occur, but it is unclear how the system changes will affect local government case management systems and the potential cost attached.

MAC will continue to work with state agencies and legislative leaders to address logistical and fiscal concerns.

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

 

Candidates can now file for MAC Board seats

At the 2020 Michigan Counties Annual Conference in August, MAC members will vote on six seats on the MAC Board of Directors.

Commissioners wishing to serve on the Board, whether incumbents or new candidates, have until July 16 to file official notice of their intent to run. Board terms are for three years.

Seats representing regions are filled by a vote in regional caucuses at the conference. At-large seats are filled by the candidate that wins a majority of the six regional caucuses.

The MAC Board of Directors is the key body in guiding the legislative and organizational strategies of MAC.

2020 Board seats

  • Region 1 — 1 seat
  • Region 2 — 1 seat
  • Region 3 — 1 seat
  • Region 4 — 1 seat
  • Region 5 — 1 seat
  • At-large — 1 seat

Any member wishing to run in the election must download the application form and return it by July 16, 2020, to Derek Melot (melot@micounties.org) to be eligible. Please also share a brief statement of why you wish to serve on the MAC Board. The information will be shared with voting members on the website prior to the elections

If you have any questions about Board duties, please contact Executive Director Stephan W. Currie at 517-372-5374.

 

Policy platform drafts now available for review by members

Platforms that would guide MAC’s policy advocacy for the coming year are now available for review on MAC’s website.

The drafts were crafted by the association’s policy committees and reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors at its June 5 session.

MAC also will be sending the platforms electronically to counties to share with commissioners.

Since this year’s session will be done electronically, the Board also voted to require that all member amendments for the platforms be submitted in writing to MAC by 5 p.m. on Aug. 7. Amendments will not be accepted from “the floor” during the virtual meeting, whose date has not yet been set, but which will occur between Aug. 18-27 during the Virtual Annual Conference.

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

 

Counties advise on opening status

Counties across Michigan reported they have either resumed public access to buildings or on the brink of doing so via emails shared by county administrators this week.

MAC created a summary of these comments and plans that includes responses from 33 counties.

 

Benzie’s work on rural broadband opens Camp Counties series

A case study from Benzie County on their work to expand and improve internet service was the focus of the first of five webinars under MAC’s Camp Counties series.

Robert Russell, one of the leaders of the Benzie effort, walked attendees through the challenges, particularly topographical, and options the Benzie group has encountered over the last two years.

The video from the webinar and Russell’s slide deck are available for 24/7 viewing at the Camp Counties webpage.

Also visit the page to register for upcoming sessions, with the next one, on June 17, to focus on tips for planning and winning millage elections in a COVID world.

 

Nursing home monitoring bill advances

A bill to require nursing homes and medical care facilities to allow residents to place a camera in their room advanced out of a Senate committee this week, despite opposition from the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC).

Senate Bill 77, by Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Oakland), moved out of the Senate Health Policy Committee and to the Senate floor. Under the bill, the resident would have to cover the cost, maintenance and activation of the electronic device. If a resident shares a room with another, written permission must be granted by the other party or their representative.

MCMCFC opposes the legislation due to concerns around the dignity and privacy rights of the resident. According to an article in The Elder Law Journal, “Monitoring technologies that aim to safeguard residents against perceived threats to health and safety can, in so doing, create their own threats to their autonomy and well-being.”

“Most nursing homes already have cameras in hallways and other common areas, but cameras in bedrooms, where residents are being dressed, bathed or receiving other medical treatments, is something that most people would not want for themselves,” said Renee Beniak, executive director of MCMCFC.

Additionally, the larger issue at hand should be addressed regarding resident care: the shortage of nurses and nursing assistant. Without adequate staffing, nurses are put under extreme pressure to care for their residents in a timely manner.

MCMCFC will continue to work to improve the legislation.

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

 

Oscoda moves into new building, 4 years after fire

Oscoda County opened its new Government Building to the public on June 10.

“So far, so good,” reported Clerk Jeri Winton. “It has been a joy to be in the new building after four years of being in a double-wide, and to be able to allow our voters in so they can conduct their business has been great!”

The new building was needed after a fire in May 2016 destroyed the county’s historic courthouse, which was built in 1888 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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