MAC’s Podcast 83 team will host a special live edition on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. They will discuss all of the details on how county boards can meet properly and safely now with special guest Matt Nordfjord of the firm of Cohl, Stoker and Toskey in Lansing.

With the governor’s Executive Orders, including the authorization for remote meetings not ordinarily allowed by the Open Meetings Act, deemed invalid in a Michigan Supreme Court opinion, county leaders are justifiably confused and concerned about what they can and can’t do on meetings.

This podcast will work to answer your questions. Nordfjord is an expert in Michigan’s Open Meetings Act and regularly provides briefings on its provisions at MAC conferences and events.

Click here to register for Podcast 83 Special Live Edition on Oct. 14 at 3:30 p.m.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

MAC-backed OMA bill clears Senate; quick House vote expected

A bill to change the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to allow remote attendance at local board meetings under certain circumstances was approved 36-2 by the Michigan Senate Thursday and now heads to the House for quick consideration.

Senate Bill 1108, by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Livingston), however, gained many changes during the Senate floor debate that did not exist in the bill approved by the Senate Local Government Committee. 

The version now before the House will allow members of public bodies to meet remotely due to medical leave (current law), a medical condition or a state or local emergency, through Dec. 31, 2021. 

MAC heard from numerous members concerned about board actions taken since April 30, when the governor’s authority to extend the State of Emergency unilaterally and implement further Executive Orders was deemed unconstitutional by a majority of the Michigan Supreme Count. (Reminder: MAC legal counsel advises that the EOs are still in place as the federal court has yet to rule in the challenge against them.)

To address this issue, the bill would apply retroactively to April 30, 2020, and provide that the remote meeting could take place under any circumstance. Since the governor’s state of emergency declaration has been called into question, and not all counties have declared a local emergency, this would ensure board actions since April 30 that took place over an electronic platform are covered by law.

In an unexpected turn of events, an additional amendment was added so remote capabilities revert to current law (remote participation only for a military absence) on Jan. 1, 2021. This caused much confusion, as it conflicted with allowing meetings through limited circumstances through December 2021. MAC staff has verified this was an error in drafting and the bill should revert to current law on Jan. 1, 2022, as consideration continues.

Despite this confusion, MAC is still supportive of the latest version, so long as the House addresses the date error.

MAC encourages members to speak to their representatives this weekend and remind them of the importance of this legislation. The House is expected to come back to session on Tuesday, Oct. 12 to act. Please remind them, as a county commissioner, interfacing directly with the public is preferable, but under the current COVID-19 situation, we need this bill to allow county officials to decide what is best for their community and provide safe measures for all residents, while continuing to govern and address county needs.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at


OMA changes advance out of Senate committee

Revisions to the state’s Open Meetings Act advanced this week in the Legislature, as the Senate Committee on Local Government approved Senate Bill 1108, by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Livingston). The bill, which MAC supports, would allow a public body to meet electronically under certain circumstances, with protections to ensure notice and public participation.

Under current law, a public body can accommodate, by allowing remote participation, the absence of a member of the body due to military duty. SB 1108 would extend this provision to accommodate a member due to a medical condition or due to a state or local emergency declaration. The bill requires an electronic meeting to have notice posted at least 18 hours before the meeting begins and must explain why the public body is holding the meeting electronically and how the public may participate.

The bill awaits action by the full Senate. A House bill that would make the similar changes, House Bill 6207 by Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Ottawa), has yet to receive a hearing.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at


Broadband grants bill headed to governor

A bill to create a new broadband grant program flew through the Senate this week, despite opposition from MAC, other local government groups and education groups.  

House Bill 4288, by Michele Hoitenga (R-Wexford), would require the Department of Technology, Management and Budget to award grants for projects that extend broadband service into unserved areas. It also, however, prohibits the DTMB from awarding money to a governmental entity or educational institution, to own, purchase, construct or operate a communications network, which is why MAC opposes the legislation.

The state’s FY21 budget includes $14 million for the grant program; however, the bill will prohibit local governments and educational institutions from accessing the funds.

HB 4288 now goes to the governor for her signature.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at


Governor proposes $500 million for water infrastructure around Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week a $500 million proposal to invest in water infrastructure across Michigan. Thanks to a recent federal amendment by Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.), states have a one-time window to transfer federal funds for clean water into their drinking water revolving fund for investment into the assessment and replacement of drinking water lines.  Of the $500 million proposed by the governor, $207 million, which does not require legislative approval, will be allocated for:   

  • Lead Service Line Replacement in Disadvantaged Communities Program – $102 million 
  • Lead and Copper – Drinking Water Asset Management Grants – $37.5 million 
  • PFAS and Emerging Contaminants – Contamination and Consolidation Grants – $25 million 
  • Non-Lead Drinking Water Infrastructure Grants – $35 million 
  • Affordability and Planning Grants – $7.5 million 

These funds will be in addition to the $14 million appropriated by the Legislature in the FY21 budget for additional lead service line replacements. 

On the other side of the clean water equation, the governor proposes utilizing the remaining $293 million in available Great Lakes Water Quality bond authority. All proposed expenditures under this category will require legislative approval.  The proposal calls for a series of expenditures for:

  • Clean Water Infrastructure Grants (eliminating sanitary sewer overflows; correcting combined sewer overflows; increasing green infrastructure) – $235 million   
  • Substantial Public Health Risk Grants (removing direct and continuous discharges of raw sewage from surface or ground water) – $20 million 
  • Failing Septic System Elimination Program – $35 million 
  • Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater Grants – $3 million 

Although this proposal is nowhere near enough to fully address the clean water and drinking water issues in Michigan, it is nonetheless a start to solving the problems. During a brief call this week, the governor and the director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy gave a brief overview of the sources of revenue and the proposed expenditures. More details on how to apply for the grants will be forthcoming on another webinar slated for Oct. 14, 2020. MAC will send out information on how to participate on the webinar once details are provided.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at


Tax foreclosure legislation gets Senate committee’s nod

Bills to adopt a new process for handling property tax foreclosures in the wake of the Rafaeli v Oakland County decision were passed out of the Senate Finance Committee this week.

Senate Bill 1137, by Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Oakland), and SB 676, by Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb), would create a process by which a previous property owner would be eligible to claim excess proceeds once a property that was foreclosed upon for non-payment of taxes and subsequently sold to either a local unit of government or auctioned off to the highest bidder. Proceeds from these sales are subject to reimbursement first to the foreclosing governmental unit for deposit into the delinquent tax revolving fund, and for reimbursement of costs associated with the foreclosure process. Claims by a former owner would have to be evaluated by a circuit court before proceeds would be disbursed to them.

There are no provisions in this legislation, however, to provide financial relief to the foreclosing governmental entity should a property sell for less than the amount of the taxes and expenses. MAC is seeking an amendment to the bills to require an annual report that would calculate the total chargebacks to local units under such shortfall scenarios, as well as the additional unredeemed expenses on counties. This will be a critical piece of information so we may determine, in the future, the financial harm to local governments. In addition, MAC is pursuing a bill to give counties the opportunity to surrender their status as the foreclosing governmental unit to the state. Right now, seven counties in Michigan have the state handle these foreclosures.

More action is anticipated on this issue during the lame duck session of the Legislature in November and December.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at


Changes to utility Personal Property Tax reviewed by Senate panel

Bills to eliminate the Personal Property Tax (PPT) on solar energy facilities and energy storage systems were reviewed this week by the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Oakland).

Senate Bill 1105, by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason), and SB 1106, by Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Tuscola), would exempt these renewable energy facilities from PPT and replace the tax with a payment in life of taxes (PILT) model at the rate of $3,500 per megawatt.

Testimony from solar industry officials reflected their desire for a standardized tax liability on this equipment; to eliminate the court challenges to assessed value; for a steady financial liability as opposed to an annual assessment and depreciation schedule; and for a more attractive environment for investment.

MAC, however, testified in opposition to the legislation for several reasons, while acknowledging some potential benefits to such a scheme for counties. On the plus side, this type of proposal, if financially beneficial and fair, would provide a predictable and steady revenue stream to local governments since there would no longer be a depreciation schedule and declining revenue over the life of the project. In addition, there would be significantly fewer court battles with the developers.

But MAC opposes the legislation right now because the proposed PILT payment may or may not be an appropriate level of payment, compared to the current system of assessment and taxation in any given community. In recent weeks, MAC has participated in many conversations regarding the proposal and is pleased to report the State Tax Commission (STC) has convened an ad hoc committee to come up with a consistent methodology to assess this equipment. That recommendation should be completed before the end of 2020. MAC is awaiting these recommendations before determining if the proposed $3,500 per megawatt rate is an equitable exchange.

The bills were not voted out of committee this week and won’t be addressed again until the lame duck session begins in November.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at


Designated assessor deadline is Dec. 31

Public Act 660 of 2018 requires each county in the state to have a Designated Assessor of Record on file with the State Tax Commission by Dec. 31, 2020. House Bill 6049, by Rep. James Lower (R-Ionia), would establish quality assessing requirements and a process by which to address those assessing districts that failed to achieve substantial compliance with those requirements.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has issued guidance on the process for identifying a designated assessor, a checklist for the interlocal agreement and the forms necessary for approval. For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at


Behavioral health transformation put on ‘pause’

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced this week it was putting its behavioral health transformation efforts on pause, given the challenges and response around COVID-19.  

Starting in late 2019, the DHHS began the process to develop a new strategy for Michigan’s behavioral health systems. Earlier this year, Department Director Robert Gordon and Deputy Director George Mellos presented on the department’s behavioral health system transformation project that would include new specialty integrated Medicaid plans. The department wants SIPs to manage physical and behavioral health for those with significant needs and allow the community mental health providers to provide safety net services.

Forums around the state were held and concerns were raised by public mental health providers and county leaders related to the state’s proposal. MAC members are strongly supportive of the county structure remaining central to ensure public oversight and response is in the best interest of persons served through the mental health system.

While the current transformation project has been put on hold, MAC will continue to stay engaged and stand ready to partner with the state and industry stakeholders to ensure the systems supports are in the best interest of all residents.


$80 million in opioid grants announced by state

The state will issue $80 million in federal State Opioid Response (SOR) funds to “support prevention, treatment and harm reduction services,” the Governor’s Office and the state’s Opioid Task Force announced this week. The funding includes $36.4 million from the new State Opioid Response II (SOR II) grant and $43.1 million from an extension of the current State Opioid Response I (SOR I) grant.

MAC is a member of the Michigan Opioids Task Force Stakeholder Advisory Group, which is tasked with identifying barriers and improve coordinated services for individual with opioid use disorder. The group has identified needs such as expansion of medication assisted treatment, access to transportation and housing services, and improving diversion efforts so individuals with OUD are not in county jails.

A summary of how the new SOR II grant supports the state’s opioids strategic plan is available here

A summary of current projects supported by SOR I funding is available here

A number of county jails have participated in programs in coordination with the Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice. For more information, contact Meghann Keit at

Organizations interested in participating in these programs – including treatment providers, hospitals, community organizations, law enforcement agencies and others – are encouraged to reach out to regional representatives. Inquiries about statewide strategy can be directed to

For more information on the state’s opioids crisis response, visit


Register for Treasury’s Chart Chat webinar on Oct. 15

The Michigan Department of Treasury is pleased to announce its next Chart Chat webinar on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. This Chart Chat will cover changes to the Uniform Chart of Accounts, implementation dates for the Chart of Accounts, information about yearly qualifying statement submissions, and how to monitor fiscal health using cash ratio.

To register for this event, please visit

Treasury is accepting questions for the Q&A portion of the webinar. To submit a question, please email by Friday, Oct.9.


Staff picks


Counties skirt fiscal danger in FY21 budget deal

Ending a long period of behind-the-scenes work by key legislators and the Whitmer administration, the Legislature moved rapidly today to pass budget bills for the state fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

In all major program areas, counties avoided cuts in funding that were once feared, and would have badly hampered members’ ability to provide key local services:

  • Counties will receive their revenue sharing at levels established in fiscal year 2020, which totals more than $226 million.
  • The deadline to pay hazard pay to first responders is extended to Oct. 31 (from the previous Sept. 30).
  • Indigent Defense grants are funded for $117.5 million.
  • About $4.2 million is provided for behavioral health training and crime victim support, as recommended by the Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.
  • The County Jail Reimbursement Program will receive $14.8 million.
  • The Secondary Road Patrol program will receive $13.1 million.
  • The Community Corrections program will receive $13.2 million.
  • Counties will have access to $4 million for Veteran Service Fund grants.
  • Local road agencies will receive a $35 million increase from FY20 levels from the Michigan Transportation Fund.
  • About $13 million is cut, however, from General Fund appropriations for the local bridge program.
  • An increase of $27 million in federal funds is included for local public airports.
  • Local public health funding was kept at FY20 levels: $51.4 million.
  • The Child Care Fund will receive $254.3 million.
  • Includes $3.5 million in Child Care Fund indirect cost payments.
  • Match requirements for non-Medicaid community mental health (CMH) services will continue in a way that saves counties $5 million.

For more information, contact Deena Bosworth at


Expungement bill gets final legislative approval

Legislation that expands expungement of convictions and creates an automatic process for such actions is on its way to the governor after the Senate approved House Bill 4980 by a vote of 29-8. Under the bill, and beginning in two years (subject to an appropriation), certain offenses will be set aside without the filing of an application. 

The bill directs the Department of Technology, Management and Budget to develop a computer-based program for setting aside of records. The Department of State Police must also have an accessible record of each conviction and ensure it is accessible to each court in the state. The governor is given authority under the bill to postpone implementation by 180 days if it determined there are technological limitations.

Additionally, a fund will be created for implementation costs, necessary systems upgrades and any staffing needs that may be required as the automatic process is developed.

MAC advises county commissioners to work with court administration and clerks, as systems vary among courts. System changes that the state implements over the next two years may affect local systems in different ways and should be covered by the state as to avoid a Headlee Amendment violation.

For more information, contact Meghann Keit at


Webinar offers budget expertise, certification credit to county commissioners

MSU Extension and the Michigan Department of Treasury will cover the fundamentals of budgeting during uncertain economic times, tracking long-term fiscal health and operational best practices in “Fiscally Ready Communities: Budgeting for Fiscal Sustainability.”

Commissioners who participate in this session would earn 3 credit hours in MAC’s County Commissioner Academy.  As of Sept. 1, nearly 40 commissioners were 3 hours or fewer short of their qualification as “certified” under the CCA program. So, this is an excellent opportunity for members to earn either their certification or build up hours toward it. The first “graduates” of CCA will be honored at MAC’s Legislative Conference in Lansing in April 2021.

MSU Extension encourages all elected and appointed officials in local government, administrators and staff to attend one of the three sessions, which will occur on:

  • Oct. 27, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 19, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

To register, click here.

The webinar will provide best practices for local government fiscal health, including budgeting, long-term planning, dealing with uncertainty, and financial policies and procedures. Participants will learn about key financial variables, such as the “rainy day fund; understanding how the tax base provides revenue; understanding volatile revenue; forecasting revenue and expenditures; and how to track your budget performance, including reviewing and amending your budget.

There is no cost to attend a session, but each session is limited to 50 attendees. (If necessary, additional dates and times will be added.)

For questions on the webinar, contact MSUE’s Eric Walcott at For questions on County Commissioner Academy, contact MAC’s Derek Melot at


Ballot pre-processing measure headed to governor

Legislation to allow time pre-election to process mail-in ballots cleared the House this week on a 94-11 vote. The measure is supported by the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks and the Council of Election Officials.

Senate Bill 757, by Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Oakland), allows clerks in cities or townships with a population of at least 25,000 to perform certain absent voter (AV) ballot pre-processing activities prior to Election Day, as long as they give notice of that action to the Secretary of State (SOS) at least 20 days before Election Day. This provision would apply only for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.

The bill would also allow election inspectors on AV counting boards in cities or townships to work in shifts. Additionally, it would provide requirements for AV ballot drop boxes and notification requirements for AV ballot applications and ballots that were rejected for missing a signature or having one that did not match the signature on file.

The bill now goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign it.


Criminal justice reforms pass House, get Senate hearings

A legislative package spurred by recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration were approved by the House this week, while the Senate began its own deliberations related to task force ideas.

House Bills 5844 and 5854-57 remove mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain offenses. Removal of mandatory minimum sentences would mean a court could impose any term of imprisonment, up to the statutory maximum specified for an offense. For certain driving while intoxicated offenses, it prohibits a judge from waiving the minimum, unless the offender successfully completes a specialty court program, such as a drug treatment or sobriety court.

Additionally, bills removing driver’s licenses sanctions for non-related driving offenses were also passed by the House. HBs 5846-5852 would eliminate various license suspensions unrelated to dangerous driving, such as failure to appear for court or failing to pay child support.

MAC, along with the Michigan Sheriffs Association and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, supported the bills as passed the House.

The Senate, meanwhile, began hearings on bills recommended by the task force that address alternatives to arrest, such as issuance of appearance tickets and allowing resolutions to low-level warrants without being arrested. Review of Senate Bills 1046-51 will continue before the Senate Judiciary Committee in upcoming weeks. 

While a full fiscal analysis is not done projecting county savings, it is assumed that these changes will save counties money by ensuring funds are not spent on housing those in county jails for reasons that are not a threat to public safety. MAC’s policy platforms support the task force, in which MAC members were represented, and smart criminal justice reforms, while maintaining public safety.  

The task force appointments expire, under the current Executive Order, on Sept. 30. MAC expects the governor to extend the group’s make-up through the end of the year.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at


Legislative burst brings good news for skilled nursing facilities

Michigan’s 34 county-owned skilled nursing facilities received good news in the fiscal 2021 state budget approved Wednesday, along with other parts of the state’s health field.

In the budget now awaiting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature:

  • The nursing facility rate escaped a $85 million reduction that had been sought by Whitmer.
  • Section 1775 maintains the status quo: (1) Requires the Department to report on the progress in implementing the MI Health Link Waiver on March 1. (2) Requires the existence of an independent ombudsman to help assist with complaint and dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Section 1857 “requires the Department to explore the implementation of a managed care long-term support service by July 1.”
  • A new line was included for $20 million to Nursing Home PPE grants that is funded through federal CARES Act funds. The new section reads, “(1) Appropriates $20.0 million of Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund revenue to nursing homes to help cover the cost of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2) Directs that funds under this section be allocated on a per licensed skilled nursing facility bed basis, with each nursing home receiving a fixed amount per licensed skilled nursing facility bed equal to $20 million divided by the total number of the licensed skilled nursing facility beds in the state. (3) The funds under this section must be allocated by Oct. 31.”
  • CARES Act funding of $150 million is included to continue the $2 per hour direct care worker wage increase, as provided in the previous fiscal year originally approved under SB 690 in July. MCMCFC understands this will continue through the end of December and, according to budget sources, the eligibility remains the same for direct care workers, including those at skilled nursing facilities, that were eligible under SB 690.

In other legislative news related to medical care facilities, House Bills 4098 and 6159 were passed by the full House this week and now await action in the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee.

HB 4098, by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Shiawassee), would allow the training and permitting of medication aides. MCMCFC supports the bill as a way to relieve the strained nursing profession by allowing specially trained CNAs to administering routine medication Under supervision of a nurse.

HB 6159, by Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Isabella), creates the Pandemic Health Care Immunity Act to provide protection from liability to health care facilities, including MCFs, that provided health care services related to the COVID-19 from March 9 to July 15 this year. MCMCFC supports this bill.

For more information on MCMCFC-related legislation, contact Meghann Keit at


Flawed broadband measure gets House approval

A bill that creates the “Connecting Michigan Communities Act” to establish a statewide grant program to expand broadband in underserved areas passed the House this week. House Bill 4288, by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Wexford), however, leaves locals out of the running to apply for the grant funds, leaving MAC no option but to oppose this legislation in current form.

While MAC supports the concept of greater access to broadband, this bill excludes local governments or educational institution from accessing these grants, which in some cases, may be the only viable entity to provide services. This could result in leaving some residents unserved in areas where a private provider has no plans to expand but could otherwise be served by a local unit.

Local partners such as the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association were also in opposition as the bill passed the House. The bill now moves to the Senate Energy and Technology committee, chaired by Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-St. Clair), and is expected to receive a vote next week.

For more information, contact Meghann Keit at


Bill on lake level bonds advances in House

Legislation allowing certain special assessment districts, filed in response to the Sanford Dam failure, cleared another legislative hurdle this week by advancing out of the House Committee on Natural Resources. MAC supports the legislation.

Senate Bill 1080, by Sen. Rick Outman (R-Montcalm) already has Senate approval and would allow a special assessment district, with the approval of the County Board of Commissioners, to issue notes or bonds for up to 40 years to finance lake level projects. While a direct response to the Sanford Dam failure, the bill also provides greater financing options for the multitude of other lake level projects across the state in dire need of repair. 

The bill would extend time a district could issue bonds from 10 years to 40 years, allowing the property assessments that pay for the work to be spread out over a much longer period and thereby make the payments more affordable for property owners. The bill now awaits action in the House Ways and Means Committee.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at


Tax shift for heavy equipment clears House committee

A new method to tax heavy construction and earth-moving equipment in Michigan cleared a House committee this week.

House Bill 5779, by Rep. Jim Ellison (D-Oakland) and voted out of House Tax Policy Committee, would end the current system for taxing rented heavy equipment, which is assessed in the jurisdiction where the property is physically located on Dec. 31 each year, regardless of where the property originated from or where it was for the rest of the year. This system has created difficulties for assessors, who have to track down the equipment within their jurisdictions on one day out of the year; creates uncertainty for the business owners who will have to pay multiple jurisdictions each year based on where the equipment is on that one day; and it can create unpredictable revenue issues for tax collecting units year to year.

Ellison’s bill, instead, would establish a 2 percent levy on the rental price of the heavy equipment. The levy would be collected by the Department of Treasury on a quarterly basis. Late penalties, audits of submissions and additional disqualifications penalties would also apply. Of the money collected by Treasury, up to $250,000 per year would go to the department for administering the program; the remaining funds would be distributed to the taxing jurisdictions.

Ninety percent of the funds would be sent to the tax collecting units where the businesses are located, who would then have 35 days to distribute the funds to the other taxing jurisdictions in the same proportion as it distributes property taxes. The remaining 10 percent would go to those local units of government not receiving any of the 90 percent distribution in the same proportion as distributions of the personal property tax reimbursement funds under the Local Community Stabilization Authority.

This bill is tie-bared to one that would exempt this equipment from personal property taxes under the General Property Tax Act. MAC is neutral on the legislation.

For more information, contact Deena Bosworth at


Controversial ‘Dark Stores’ advocate regains Tax Tribunal seat

A former member of the Michigan Tax Tribunal who served when the panel adopted the “Dark Stores” theory of property assessment will rejoin the tribunal after a Senate committee failed to reject her nomination by the Whitmer administration.

Victoria Enyart will be seated after the Senate Advice and Consent Committee turned aside a move by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Dickinson) to reject her reappointment. MAC and others had opposed Enyart’s reappointment due to her role in the adoption of the “Dark Stores” assessment ideology, which has stripped local governments statewide of more than $100 million in revenue, thereby increasing the local tax burden on homeowners and small businesses.

The day before, a different Senate committee, Finance, took testimony on legislation, Senate Bill 39, by McBroom, which ban one of the Dark Stores techniques – the use of deed-restricted parcels as comparable properties for assessment purposes. MAC supports the bill, which did not receive a committee vote but is gaining traction in the Legislature.

For more information, contact Deena Bosworth at


Webinar to aid law enforcement with autism, DD communities

A webinar designed to provide participants, particularly law enforcement, with the knowledge and skills required to provide effective, equitable service to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, will be held Oct. 27 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The content presented in this course is a culmination of information from a partnership of mental health and law enforcement professionals. The webinar is co-sponsored ty the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA).

County commissioners may wish to encourage colleagues and partners in law enforcement to attend this free training session, which is MCOLES-approved and meets with MCOLES recommended annual officer trainings.

To register, click here. The class is limited to 50 slots. Deadline to register is Oct. 25.

To register groups or for additional course information, contact J. Eric Waddell at


FY21 budget won’t cut revenue sharing

The Whitmer administration and legislative leaders have agreed on a fiscal year 2021 deal to balance the state budget, a deal that will ensure counties will receive the same amount in revenue sharing as FY20 allocations, prior to the cancellation of the August revenue sharing payment. These funds will be in the form of the traditional General Fund dollars that do not require allocation to Covid-19 pandemic related expenses.

The Legislature set up budget for action next week through House Bill 5396, omnibus budget, and Senate Bill 927, school aid. After months of concern due to budget shortfall projects impacted by COVID-19, MAC is appreciative of the news and support of both the legislature and administration. Lawmakers are expected to complete the budget next week.

While limited detailed information has been released at this point, MAC will report as soon as possible the final budget details.


Bill to extend remote meeting option gets MAC support

MAC-supported legislation that would allow remote participation in board meetings after the pandemic Executive Orders expire has been introduced in the Legislature. Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Ottawa) introduced House Bill 6207 to amend the Open Meetings Act to allow a meeting be held electronically, while ensuring transparency and promoting public participation. A similar Senate Bill, 1108 by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Livingston), will be reviewed by the Senate Local Government Committee next week.

The meeting must allow for two-way communication so the public can hear and be heard, particularly during public comment periods. Additionally, the public body can allow comments to be typed and read or shared with members and participants. If a public body meets electronically, they must explain the reasoning and process for the public to participate in detail.

The bill specifies that a closed session may occur electronically as well and must be held in compliance of current closed session requirements under the Open Meetings Act.

The bill was sent to the House Committee on Government Operations. MAC encourages members whose representatives are on that committee to reach out to and voice support for this legislation. 

For more information, contact Meghann Keit at


Whitmer signs court cost extension into law

The authority for trial courts to impose costs on defendants is extended to 2022 under a state law signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week. Passage of House Bill 5488 had been a top priority for MAC this year since the imposition of court costs was about to expire next month. Now that authority runs to Oct. 1, 2022.

Without the legislation, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), county courts would have lost this source of funding for operational needs in a few weeks.

The state’s Trial Court Funding Commission has 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.”

Of course, the work on this issue is far from over. The new deadline is just two years way, and the next phase will be to finally solve the long-standing problem of a stable court funding system. MAC stands ready to continue the work with the Legislature to help streamline and improve the overall system. While a variety of reforms are needed, a key one is to rebalance state and local funds in the court system, as reported by the Trial Court Funding Commission. 

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at


Emergency Management Department bill reviewed by committee

The House committee on Military and Veterans Affairs took testimony this week from emergency managers (EM) in support of House Bill 6148, by Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Benzie). The bill would move emergency management functions out from under the Department of State Police and into a new department that will report and communicate directly with the governor. Compelling testimony was given this week by two county emergency management coordinators indicating support for this restructuring. The reasons cited for their support include:

  • Not all emergencies are law enforcement related and should not be treated as such. With emergency management under State Police, their focus tends to be on law enforcement activities related to an emergency and not necessarily coordination of all different types of emergency response activities.
  • State Police receive an Emergency Management Planning Grant that funds 100 percent of their activities. Local Emergency management has asked for an accounting of their expenditures for many years and have not received it, therefore they are unsure of whether or not there are additional funds that should be going to support emergency management operations at the local level. .
  • The turnover in the Department in this area is high, with those in charge and those closest to the counties only lasting 2-3 years. This, according to the local emergency management coordinators, is not enough time to develop expertise and establish clear priorities.
  • It is more expensive to pay a uniformed officer to perform these functions than it is civilians, but in this structure, civilians have no advancement opportunity and usually leave to go to FEMA.
  • The State Police has failed to provide a list of resources for the local EM coordinators to utilize. Help is given but items and assistance must be directly asked for. Without knowledge of what is available, it is difficult to ask for assistance.  
  • State agencies of all types show up to emergencies without any coordination of effort. The State should be doing this but again, the focus is on deploying law enforcement and not the coordination of all the other entities with an interest in the disaster. The local EM coordinator is typically responsible for this coordination as well.
  • Michigan is only one of two states in the nation that house emergency management strictly inside a law enforcement department.

MAC’s Finance and General Government Committee voted this week to support the legislation.

If your county would like to weigh in on this proposal, contact Deena Bosworth at


Broadband bill advances despite local control issues

A MAC-opposed bill ostensibly designed to boost broadband access cleared the House Communication and Technology committee this week.

House Bill 4288, by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Wexford), would create the “Connecting Michigan Communities Act” to establish a statewide grant program to expand broadband in underserved areas. 

While MAC supports greater access to broadband, this bill excludes local governments from accessing the grant program. It does provide requirements to show “evidence of community support for the project with a narrative on the impact that the investment will have on community and economic development in the area.” However, MAC is unclear what “evidence” means for the process.

MAC will continue to work to ensure clear, collaboration with local and county boards to encourage better infrastructure planning and deployment of these grant funds.

Local partners such as MML and MTA were also in opposition as the bill passed committee. The bill now moves to the House Ways and Means Committee.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at


2020 Annual Conference videos now available

Video files from MAC’s recent Virtual Annual Conference are now available on MAC’s YouTube Channel

Members can view all of the seven conference workshops and two of the plenary sessions, headlined by Tom Izzo’s keynote remarks, via the conferences page on our website.


COVID liability shield bill clears House committee

A house bill to provide liability protections to health facilities, including Medical Care Facilities (MCFs), advanced out of the House Judiciary committee this week.

House Bill 6159, by Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Isabella), would create the “pandemic health care immunity act.” Facilities would not be liable for an injury, including death, sustained by an individual while received services at the facility. The immunity would be applied from March 9 to July 15, 2020.

The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC) supports HB 6159, along with other health care partners such as HCAM and MHA. The bill now awaits action from the full House of Representatives.

For questions, contact Meghann Keit at


Currie talks COVID impacts with Lansing Chamber panel

Michigan counties have weathered the initial fiscal crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but dangers loom on the horizon, MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie said during a panel discussion at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Club last week.

During his remarks, Currie discussed the broad scope of county responsibilities under COVID, from public health and safety to aiding businesses to stay open via treasurer and register of deeds offices.

Asked about county innovation during the crisis, Currie noted the quick and broad adoption of videoconferencing technology, particularly in the court systems; Oakland County’s efforts to supply businesses with PPE; and even Ottawa County’s new “greeter,” a robot that meets visitors at the county building and offers touch screen services to guide residents to the appropriate office.

He added, however, that the crisis had shown a need to improve broadband services across Michigan and that counties are still wrestling with the details of filing for federal aid for COVID efforts.

Currie was joined on the “local government” panel by Summer Minnick of the Michigan Municipal League, Neil Sheridan of the Michigan Townships Association and Eric Scorsone of the Center for Local Government Finance and Policy at Michigan State University.


NACo town hall features election experts

America’s counties traditionally administer and fund elections, overseeing more than 109,000 polling places and coordinating more than 694,000 poll workers every two years. Faced with new election-related challenges due to COVID-19 and concerns over cybersecurity, foreign influence and aging technology, election administrators across the country have worked tirelessly to finalize preparations to conduct a free and fair election.

Join the National Association of Counties (NACo) on Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. EDT for a special virtual town hall and hear from federal and local elections officials about how they are working to ensure a safe, fair and secure election this fall.


Opioids town halls set for Sept. 23, 25

The Michigan Opioids Task Force and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have announced the details of the first two virtual opioids town halls:

  • Northern Lower Michigan (previously the Gaylord Town Hall), Wednesday, Sept. 23, 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
  • Flint and Thumb Region (previously the Flint Town Hall) Friday, Sept. 25, 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m.

During the events, state officials will seek to learn more about how the opioid epidemic has impacted different regions of the state. To ensure information gathered reflects the experience of the local communities, residents are asked to only participate in the virtual town hall for the area in which they reside.

At the town halls, MDHHS and the Michigan Opioids Task Force will share the 2020 strategy to turn the tide on the crisis, seek feedback from the public and host a Q&A about the crisis response.

For more information about the state’s opioids response and available resources, visit


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