Podcast 83

Podcast 83 is a regular look at the news, stories and trends related to Michigan’s 83 counties from Keweenaw to Monroe, Chippewa to Berrien.

Hosted by MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie, the podcast features:

  • Regular reports from MAC staff on legislative activities
  • Updates and opportunities through MAC services
  • Newsmaker interviews
  • Happenings from across Michigan’s 83 counties

See Podcast 83 on MAC’s YouTube channel.


NEW!: Episode 87 – Released 5/14/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Legislators continue to grind on a fiscal 2025 state budget, a document that could yield a massive reform in county revenue sharing, a Podcast 83 team member detailed this week in a new episode.

While the governor, the House and the Senate all have proposed increases in revenue sharing, it’s the Senate approach that is most attractive, said Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth.

Like the House, the Senate is pursuing MAC’s trust fund proposal of carving out a portion of the state sales tax for use in dedicated fund for counties.

“(The Senate) wants to do 9.1 percent of the state sales tax for cities, villages, townships and counties. And they are not doing the public safety percentage (which the House is pursuing),” Bosworth said. “So, Sen. (John) Cherry made the recommendation that we’re going to take a bigger piece of the sales tax, which is a $52.5 million increase. He says whatever your county got in fiscal year 24 is absolutely the minimum. And then that additional $52.5 million that he is recommending for this year is going to get distributed out to counties based on an inverse relationship to their taxable value.”

The next big step in the budget process is the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference on Friday, May 17. That’s when legislators will know final numbers for spending. The expectation is the Legislature will finish its budget work in mid-June, well ahead of its statutory deadline of July 1.

In other Capitol news:

  • Samantha Gibson explained MAC’s opposition to a bill on prisoners earning release credits that could disrupt the state’s “Truth in Sentencing” rules.
  • Madeline Fata explained the huge burdens that could fall on county clerks and other local election officials if the current version of the so-called “Michigan Voting Rights Act” legislation were to be adopted.

Episode 86 – Released 4/16/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Two special elections being held today (April 16) for the Michigan House should break the long-standing legislative logjam in Lansing ― a logjam that has trapped key MAC priorities for counties, the Podcast 83 Team reported in their newest episode.

“There are two House seats that need to be filled: the 13th District down in Macomb County and the 25th House District in Wayne County,” explained Governmental Affairs Associate Madeline Fata. “We do expect that both of those seats will be filled by Democrats, which would then bring the House up to 56 Democrats 54 Republicans moving forward after this week.”

“It’s been … four weeks since we’ve had any potential traction on the two House bills (on trial court funding),” said Governmental Affairs Associate Samantha Gibson. “Those two bills are crossed tie-barred, meaning they cannot move forward to the governor’s desk without one another. … Assuming that the Democratic majority is reinstated, I think, whenever those seats are filled, then the elections are certified, we will see progress on those bills getting out of the House.”

“We keep talking about the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund bills, and I can’t, for the life of me, understand how it’s wrapped up in different issues,” said Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth, “But we’ve been waiting on them to move (the bills) since November. … And we really do need somebody to have a majority in the state House so that we can get some stuff moving.”

Other topics discussed in this week’s episode:

  • Legislation governing short-term rental regulations will get a hearing this week
  • The upcoming Michigan Counties Legislative Conference will feature a keynote address on leadership plus workshops on such policy topics as Michigan’s new energy siting law and dealing with the state’s burgeoning deer herd

Episode 85 -Released 4/9/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: With legislators returning to Lansing this week, focus again turns to the overdue action on the authority of trial courts to levy fees, MAC’s Samantha Gibson told her fellow Podcast 83 team members in the group’s newest episode.

“So, at this time, unfortunately, we’re still held up on trial court funding legislation in the House,” Gibson said. “What’s becoming increasingly likely, and what I think will end up happening, is once the two vacant house seats are filled after those special elections, April 16, maybe. So, let’s say April 23 or 24, maybe the House will vote the bills out, then the Senate is going to have a hearing on some Senate versions of those bills on the 18th. So, whenever the House bills get over there, they can just get sent right to the Senate floor. … We probably will be looking at a week or so after May 1 for implementation of the new sunset.”

In that case, MAC will be pressing the state to reimburse counties for the approximately $1 million per week that will be lost in operating revenue, as it did the last time the fee authority expired in the fall of 2022.

Also reviewed in this week’s episode are:

  • The potential effects of legislation just signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on hotel/motel tax authority for Kent and seven other counties.
  • The timing for the passage of the state’s FY25 budget this spring with the statewide election calendar looming.

Special Episode on CoProPlus procurement program – Released 4/2/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Penny Saites and Chuck Wolford of CoProPlus
Topic: Were you aware that a MAC program offers your procurement team more than 150 contracts for goods and services, all pre-negotiated and in full compliance with state law? MAC’s CoProPlus subsidiary, now entering its second decade of service to public entities, stands ready to assist MAC members in expansive ways, explained CoPro+ staffers in a new episode of MAC’s Podcast 83.

“One thing that makes us unique is that we will go into an entity that needs our services and offer a full range of end-to-end procurement services,” said Penny Saites of CoPro+. “(We offer) everything from writing bid specs, to writing the bid document, to assisting through the procurement process and all the way to evaluation and contract execution.”

“Any public agency is eligible to participate in the program,” added Chuck Wolford. “And that could be a county, a city, a township, a public school, a college or a university. And you can use the contracts at absolutely no cost to you and save you the time for procuring it again, we’ve already done the work for you. It’s already been vetted. And you’re always going have something that’s done the right way through this program.”

While the figure changes regularly, CoPro+ has about 150 contracts in place. About 20 counties have made use of at least one such contract. “We have contracts in commodities, IT professional services and maintenance and repair type contracts. So, if you’re a facility guy, you’re going want to look at some of those building services contracts that we have, like we have a really nice overhead door contract where those vendors also do HVAC and other building services,” Saites explained. “We are looking at some of the professional services contracts; grant writing I know is one of them. We get a lot of questions from MAC (on that issue),” Saites added. “There’s also compensation studies available on there, if folks would like to engage with that group.”

Special Episode: Energy Siting Ballot Campaign – Released 3/26/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guest: Kevon Martis, Lenawee County commissioner
Topic: “This is strictly a question of who decides how to site these things, the (Michigan Public Service Commission) or local units of government.”

So explained Lenawee County Commissioner Kevon Martis about the ballot campaign he and other concerned citizens formed now to contest Public Act 233, the controversial state law adopted in 2023 on the siting of renewable energy facilities.

“Public Act 233 has really taken away any meaningful local control of wind, solar and battery storage regulation,” Martis explained to Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie in a new special episode. “We’ve taken the approach that people should have a vote on this, and we’re trying to place the repeal of that local zoning preemption on the ballot this November.”

Under the name “Citizens for Local Choice,” this group wants voters to have a chance to modify the law to protect local control.

“We introduced this as initiated legislation and that legislation targets only the local zoning preemption (in the law),” Martis explained. “We’re not touching any of the energy policy side of this.”

The group, of which MAC is now a part, needs 357,000 signatures by May 29 to meet its goal of reaching the November 2024 ballot.

“My strong recommendation to (Michigan’s county commissioners) is if each of you go out and collect one or two pages of signatures ― and each page has 12 signatures ― that will make a meaningful difference in our efforts,” Martis said.

Special Episode: Road Funding – Released 3/19/24
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guests: Ed Noyola of CRA and Madeline Fata of MAC
Topic: Michigan has a nearly $3 billion a year funding gap to maintain its county road network, an expert in the field told MAC’s Podcast 83 in a new special episode.

“We’re short about $2.8 billion a year for county road agencies,” said Ed Noyola, chief deputy and legislative director for the County Road Association of Michigan. “So that is really a number that boggles the mind, and I’m sure it’s going to boggle the minds of our legislators and the governor’s office to include on top of what MDOT needs and what the cities and villages need.”

As daunting as the need is, finding a solution may be more of a challenge, Noyola warned.

“There is no way that the amount of money that we have is going to maintain (the roads) that we all have to maintain and make improvements to, period,” Noyola said.

“We’ve tried not to tell the Legislature what’s the best choice or how much they need to invest in the infrastructure. I don’t think we can play that anymore. I think we have to be direct and honest with them as to how much we need. They can decide whether they can meet that figure or not, but at least we have to tell them how much we need to increase it in the short term,” he explained.

What is a “mileage-based user fee” and how would it work?

A promising new solution, Noyola says is the “mileage-based user fee.”

“It is a perfect user fee. If you drive 10,000 miles, you’re going to pay for 10,000 miles; if you drive 50,000 miles, you’re going to pay for 50,000 miles of road driving.”

Episode 84 – Released 3/5/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: While the State Capitol might not be dominating headlines with passage of major legislation so far in 2024, the work there for MAC is as expansive as ever, members of the Podcast 83 Team note in their newest episode.

The legislative slowdown continues from the results of last November’s elections when the Democrats lost their majority in the House, leaving a 54-54 chamber that will remain tied until the end of April when new members are seated for two vacancies.

MAC, however, continues to crisscross the Capitol campus to brief legislators on county priorities and needs.

MAC, for example, testified last week before a Senate appropriations panel on the association’s opioid settlement efforts and the reaction was widely positive, Samantha Gibson reported.

“Our feeling on feedback from senators after that committee hearing was that they were really glad and impressed to hear about what was going on at MAC,” Gibson said. “It is important to note that I don’t believe anyone has started spending their settlement dollars yet and that’s because counties are really taking the time to hear from stakeholders and make sure that as many people as possible are engaged in the process, that they’re going to spend those dollars as effectively as they can.”

In the juvenile justice sphere, Gibson outlined more MAC testimony scheduled for mid-day Tuesday, March 5 on the critical need for more beds for juvenile offenders to receive treatment and services.

“We really want to hone in on the need to address the staffing shortage with juvenile justice funding and how state dollars can go even further to implement juvenile justice reform,” Gibson said. “So this bed shortage … is really a result of a staffing shortage, and if we can use additional state funding to increase the rate of pay for staffers and juvenile facilities, we can recruit and retain the staff, open additional beds and, again, put the reforms that we saw at the end of last year put them to work even further.”

Director of Governmental Affairs Deena Bosworth also is testifying on Wednesday, March 6, this time on House Bill 5353, a measure designed to make legislators confront the effects of unfunded mandates on local governments by forcing fiscal reporting to them before any relevant measure can leave the State Capitol.

“MAC has always been supportive of any kind of unfunded mandates legislation dating back to 2009, when the legislative commission on unfunded mandates issued their report,” Bosworth explained. “We have not been successful in getting this all the way through the process and enacted. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can cross that threshold this time.

“The only teeth (in the bill) are that we don’t have to comply … if they don’t follow the fiscal note process,” Bosworth added. “

Special Episode: Housing Policy – Released 2/20/24
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guest: Amy Hovey, executive director, Michigan State Housing Development Authority
Topic: Housing policy

“We are about 190,000 (housing) units short of where we need to be.”

Those were the words of Amy Hovey, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) in explaining the state’s housing crisis in a special episode of Podcast 83.

Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth, subbing in for regular host Stephan Currie, engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of how and why housing became such a challenge for Michigan families – and Michigan policymakers. “Primarily, this is because our household size has shrunk in our state. It was just over four people per household, and now it’s only at two people per household. So, even though we aren’t having a lot of population growth in our state, we still have a housing crisis,” Hovey explained.

In maps shared by Hovey’s staff, this crisis pinches some counties more than others, with effects pronounced in Branch Missaukee, Montcalm, Newaygo and Otsego.

While most of MSHDA’s financial efforts are aimed at developers and individuals, Hovey emphasized the need for county involvement in the state’s housing plan.

“Governments at every level should be involved in the (state’s 15 regional housing partnerships), bringing their voices and their needs to the development of those plans,” Hovey explained. We have seen some counties, which I love. I met with Charlevoix County late last year, and they’re thinking about doing countywide zoning, which I love the idea. Counties often have more capacity than some of our smaller local governments, especially in our rural areas of our state.”

Special Episode: FY25 State Budget Proposal – Released 2/12/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Counties would see significant investments in key needs under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fiscal 2025 state budget, MAC’s Podcast 83 team noted in their latest episode.

However, new dollars for revenue sharing, juvenile justice and health care for some jail inmates still have to get through the legislative budget process, never a sure thing said team members.

Whitmer calls for $281.2 million for county revenue sharing, with increases set in a mix of unrestricted and restricted formats. If approved, this amount would represent a $26 million boost from the FY24 baseline amount.

Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth cautioned that this amount is the starting point of budget talks. “We have to watch it through the entire process very, very closely,” she said.

The governor’s plan also did not reference the creation of a dedicated and secured Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, a MAC priority for 2024, but Bosworth said the progress made last year in the Legislature on that issue is a good sign for eventual passage.

“We’re starting to see some decent sized growth right now,” Bosworth said. “But we went back and looked at where county revenue sharing was in 2001. It was $228 million. This year, the recommendation, including the one-time funds as $281 million. If we just kept up with inflation (from 2001), we would be over $400 million for counties across the state.”

On the juvenile front, Samantha Gibson said, “We’ve discussed at length, especially on this podcast, the juvenile justice bed shortage crisis. In (this budget), we do see some significant funding suggestions to go towards resolving that bed shortage. There’s $38 million to kind of reconfigure how the (state) contracts with child caring institutions.”

Whitmer’s plans in the criminal justice sphere include a $30.5 million allotment to cover health services for jail inmates slated for release who would otherwise be eligible for federal Medicaid coverage. This amount would be in service of a state effort to get a so-called Section 1115 Re-entry Waiver from the federal government to relieve counties of health care costs they now bear due to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy.

Reform of that policy is a MAC priority for 2024, Gibson noted.

MAC was also pleased to see a $15 million allotment for stormwater improvements, said Madeline Fata.

Whitmer also seeks a 1,289 percent increase in the tipping fees to place waste in landfills, moving it from 36 cents to $5 per ton. “Gov. (Rick) Snyder recommended something similar back in 2018,” Fata said, “and he wasn’t able to get it across the finish line. With that increase, it would bring us up to par with other Midwestern states, as Michigan is currently the lowest with tipping fees.

“It would then deter out-of-state dumping, which is a problem that Michigan faces,” Fata added. “MAC does support mechanisms to deter out-of-state waste. Ultimately (the proposed increase) would generate about $80 million annually.”

Special Episode: 2024 State of the State – Released 1/26/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ’80s-style concert of a State of the State address did not impress, said members of MAC’s Podcast 83 team in their latest episode.

“There was no recognition (in the speech) of the contribution that locals have toward making Michigan a great place,” said Deena Bosworth.

“Well, and it’s not flashy, right?” noted Steve Currie. “What counties do isn’t the flashy stuff; we do the stuff people don’t always think about. So, it’s not always going to be talked about as quickly as some other areas of government that are more flashy economic development. You know those sorts of things, but still important.”

Other parts of the governor’s comments drew a more positive response.

“(The governor) wants to put some money towards affordable housing as well,” Currie said. “We’ve talked in our committees internally, and even at our conference level we’ve had presentations on housing. So, it’s something we’ve long supported is getting affordable housing. It’s an issue everywhere from Wayne County up into the UP.”

“We haven’t seen a full fiscal impact on what the $5,000 care-giver tax credit would be and what exactly the eligibility requirements are. But I will say the Population Growth Council provided data that suggested the portion of our aging population is drastically increasing,” noted Samantha Gibson. “The 65 and up population in Michigan is a pretty staggering portion of our entire population, and we’re already seeing shortages (in care workers).”

Episode 83 – Released 1/17/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: A long-sought policy to create a secure source of county revenue sharing dollars and changes in juvenile justice and court policies are discussed in the latest episode of Podcast 83, MAC’s podcast on all matters county-related in Michigan.

Host Stephan Currie led the Podcast 83 team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson through a review of MAC’s 2024 legislative priorities in Lansing.

Topping the list, said Bosworth, is the creation of a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund to hold dedicated state dollars to share with local governments.

“It might still be a little bit of an uphill battle because it does carve out a portion of the state sales tax and cuts into the unrestricted funds the Legislature uses … Hopefully we get some movement on it this spring,” she explained.

Bosworth also reviewed the legislative state of play on reimbursements for losses due to a property tax exemption for disabled veterans, while Gibson discussed the need to reset a legislative “sunset” on the authority of local trial courts to levy fees on defendants and Fata described the numerous challenges to infrastructure funding.

Special Episode: “Ax MI Tax” Proposal – Released 1/10/24
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth of MAC and Steve Liedel of Dykema law firm
Topic: In a special episode to launch its 2024 season, MAC’s Podcast 83 looks at a radical ballot proposal that, if adopted, would blow a nearly $3 billion hole in county revenues.

MAC’s Stephan Currie and Deena Bosworth interviewed guest Steve Liedel of the firm of Dykema in Lansing, an expert in elections law, about the process that the group “Ax MI Tax” is using to try to ban property taxes in Michigan.

In fiscal 2022, Michigan’s 83 counties levied nearly $2.9 billion in property taxes for their operations, which would disappear under the proposed constitutional amendment.

In fiscal 2020, Michigan collected 37 percent of its state and local revenue from property taxes, well above the national average. Only 10 states were more reliant than Michigan on property taxes for revenue for public services.

The anti-tax group has twice visited the Board of State Canvassers, which reviews ballot proposals, but left without any approved language or petition forms. Undaunted, the group says it plans to collect signatures anyway to force a vote in 2024, a course Liedel detailed as having many “risks” from a legal standpoint.

After banning property taxes, the measure also would impose supermajority requirements in both legislative chambers to effectively increase taxes, in effect giving 33 percent of legislators a veto over state tax policy.

Liedel noted that the measure’s calls for “replacement revenue” are likely to fall far short of what is currently collected.

“Local millages are gone for your veterans, for your roads, for public safety …” Currie said.

“They are trying to bankrupt government,” Bosworth said.

Special Episode: Growing Michigan Together Council – Released 12/20/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topic: A sweeping, yet vague, set of recommendations by a state panel is the subject of the newest episode of MAC’s Podcast 83 this week.

Host Stephan Currie and MAC Governmental Affairs Team of Deena Bosworth, Samantha Gibson and Madeline Fata give some quick takes on the report of the Growing Michigan Together Council, which was formed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier in the year to address Michigan’s demographic challenges.

Responding to a question by Currie about the role and history of state task forces in Michigan, Bosworth noted, “(Task forces highlight) the need for focusing on policy in specific areas.” She added, however, that in the “vast majority of them, we don’t get a whole lot of action items.”

As always, the question of money is central to the discussion, team members noted.

“It’s billions of dollars … to implement all of these recommendations in there,” Bosworth said, adding that the report “really doesn’t say ‘raise revenue here to put it there.’”

“I don’t know how hard it hits on what we do about (attracting and keeping young people), beyond throwing money at the problem,” argued Gibson.

“It was great to put all this information together,” Bosworth said. “The major theme is that we have stopped investing in our state.

“We are 25 percent below the revenue we were collecting in our state General Fund from 2000. How are we going to fund all of our infrastructure if we are not collecting that much revenue?”

Council documents include:

Special Episode: Opioid Settlement Services – Released 12/12/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Amy Dolinky and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topic: A special episode of Podcast 83 features MAC’s opioid settlement services to member counties.

Host Stephan Currie interviews Amy Dolinky, MAC’s technical adviser for settlement services, about her work with dozens of Michigan counties and what questions and issues have arisen in her statewide travels.

“I’m engaged with 60 counties providing various levels of support,” explained Dolinky, who joined MAC about a year ago to work specifically with members on the complicated task of best deploying national opioid settlement dollars in their communities.

Dolinky explained she has been involved in everything from helping counties plan for creation of an advisory panel, all the way to helping folks think through what transparency looks like with their spending decisions.

“And (MAC has been) working with some counties on strategic planning efforts,” she noted.

During the discussion, Currie and Dolinky reviewed the payment timeline, with Dolinky noting that while each company has a set number of payments, they are not being issued on a standard fiscal year or annual basis — and amounts can differ from year to year.

County members with any questions about opioid settlements are encouraged to review MAC’s extensive resources on the web and/or contact Dolinky directly at dolinky@micounties.org.

Special Episode: Year in Review, Part II – Released 12/6/2023

Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata, and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Potential new funds for public safety and long-needed repairs to the state Open Meetings Act are two of several issues discussed in Part II of Podcast 83’s “Legislative Year in Review.”

Host Stephan Currie again welcomed the MAC advocacy team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson to review key county issues in 2023 and how some of them may change in 2024, including:

Open Meetings Act: “This has been a slow process this year,” said Fata. “Over 10,000 groups adhere to OMA. … The needs are all over the place. The goal for MAC is to be able to fully participate, including voting, remotely, as long as a physical quorum is present. At least two bills introduced … that are great for smaller organizations but for county commissioners still not where we want it to be.

“We just want that ability to participate remotely as long as physical quorum is present. … We don’t have any legislation that is meeting our needs,” she added.

Public Safety Trust Fund: “(The fund) is two-bill package, modeled after our Revenue Sharing Trust Fund bills,” said Bosworth. “They carve out percentage of state sales tax and allocate to pub safety trust fund. … Part of revenue (goes) to local units of government based on their portion of violent crime throughout the state. We have worked really hard to figure out how we could get counties recognized in that legislation.

“At this point, it has passed out of house and is awaiting action in Senate,” she added.

Designated assessor: Bosworth said MAC and counties are “in a good spot” regarding legislation to have the State Tax Commission hire designated assessors, freeing local governments from a long-standing struggle to find qualified individuals. The legislation will continue its path through the process in 2024, she added.

Special Episode: Year in Review, Part I – Released 11/29/2023
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata, and Samantha Gibson of MAC

Topics: Legislative successes on juvenile justice reform, property tax reimbursements and revenue sharing highlight the first of two episodes of Podcast 83 that are looking back at 2023 in the State Capitol.

Host Stephan Currie and the MAC governmental affairs team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson reviewed the county perspective on the following:

  • Passage of a huge juvenile justice reform package, which notably did not include an extension of juvenile services under the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. “MIDC will remain exactly as is,” Gibson said.
  • Release of Personal Property Tax (PPT) funds for local governments, which are losing revenue due to expanded tax exemptions for small businesses approved by the state two years ago. “There’s been $75 million set aside, and they are required to set aside $75 million each year to go out to local units to reimburse them,” Bosworth explained. “We are pretty happy about that.”
  • A new, dedicated Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, which was approved overwhelmingly by the House and now awaits action in the Senate in 2024. “It’s a true sharing of the state’s revenue,” Bosworth said of the long-standing MAC priority. “It’s a straight carve-out of the sales tax … and allows for growth.”

Episode 82 – Released 11/14/2023
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata, and Samantha Gibson of MAC

Topics: In their latest episode, host Stephan Currie and team members Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata, and Samantha Gibson look back on and discuss what happened the last week of regular session as the legislature goes sine die. They also discuss what the legislature will look like as we move into 2024.

Fata reported on the MAC-opposed solar and wind siting legislation. MAC was able to negotiate some amendments to the legislation. The legislation was passed on party lines by both chambers and is headed to Governor’s desk in the coming weeks.

Gibson reported on the Juvenile Justice Reform package. 19 of the 20 bills passed both chambers and is headed to the Governor’s desk. The bill that did not move was the bill to expand MIDC to include Juveniles. Gibson explains why this bill wasn’t passed and what that will look like.

Bosworth reported on the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund bills, which passed the House and are in the Senate’s Finance, Insurance, & Consumer Protection Committee. She also gave an update on the Public Safety Trust Fund, which is also over in the Senate.

Episode 81 – Released 11/7/2023

Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata, and Samantha Gibson of MAC

Topics: In their latest episode, host Stephan Currie and team members Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata, and Samantha Gibson look at what this week looks like as the Legislature enters there last regular week of session before they go sine die.

Bosworth reported the recent movement of the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund Bills, which passed the House last week, almost unanimously, 106 Yeas – 4 Nays. These bills now move over to the Senate’s Finance, Insurance & Consumer Protection Committee.

Fata reported on the MAC-opposed solar and wind siting legislation that saw a 1:00am vote on the House Floor last Friday morning. There were many last minute amendments to these bills that gives the illusion of locals keeping control but does the opposite.

Finally, Gibson gave an update on the juvenile justice bills that are awaiting votes on the House & Senate floors. She also gave an update on minimum staffing legislation that was voted out of the House Labor Committee, and heads to the Senate.

Episode 80 – Released 10/31/2023
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guests: Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: The shrinking legislative calendar and the maneuvering around state energy policy continue to dominate in the State Capitol, said MAC’s Podcast 83 team this week.

Team members repeatedly noted how uncertain the situation is in Lansing as the Democratic majorities in the Legislature rush to finish work before the expected end of the session next week.

Fata and Bosworth reported that the MAC-opposed solar and wind siting legislation seems to be in a holding pattern while the Michigan Senate has pushed through a series of clean energy mandates for utilities.

There has been “lots of closed-door negotiating,” Fata said, adding that it is not clear if or when the energy siting legislation, which would strip local control over such zoning, will get a vote on the House floor. “They need 56 votes in the House and … if there are two or three Democrats on fence, it’s not going to move,” Fata explained.

In more certain news, Bosworth reported that the governor has signed long-sought legislation to create a mechanism to reimburse local governments for revenue losses tied to the expansion of the Personal Property Tax exemption.

Finally, Fata gave an update on the contentious topic of creating a statewide septic code, an idea opposed by dozens of counties. “It’s been all quiet since draft 2 (of the legislation) came out,” Fata said. MAC has been talking with Michigan Association of Local Public Health about the issue and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is working on a study on actions taken in other Midwest states on septic regulation.

Episode 79 – Released 10/25/2023
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guests: Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: As the Legislature prepares for what is expected to be an early exit in November, MAC’s Podcast 83 team reviews the policy terrain around several initiatives MAC is either supporting or opposing on behalf of counties.

Director of Governmental Affairs Deena Bosworth, sitting in for regular host Stephan Currie, leads Samantha Gibson and Madeline Fata of MAC through the hot topics in Lansing, including:

Solar and wind energy siting legislation: Fata reported that the legislation is now out of committee in the House, while MAC continues to advise legislators that counties are “not standing in the way (of renewable energy projects) … we just want to keep siting (decisions) local.”

Juvenile justice reforms: Gibson reported the huge package has “officially swapped chambers and is one step closer to the governor’s desk.” MAC has been involved in this reform effort from the start and it represents a key priority for the association this year.

Revenue sharing: Bosworth reported there is “no movement” on MAC’s proposal for a dedicated Revenue Sharing Trust Fund” and that MAC and other advocates are “struggling to get the administration on board …”

Episode 78 – Released 10/17/2023
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Control over who decides the location and details of solar and wind energy generating facilities remains a contentious issue at the Michigan State Capitol, MAC’s Podcast 83 team reported this week in their newest episode.

Madeline Fata, MAC’s point person on the legislation, was scheduled to testify against bills last week to transfer zoning powers to the Michigan Public Service Commission, but she didn’t get the chance, she told her podcast team members, due to the intense questioning of bill sponsors by committee members.

MAC has long opposed any infringement on local control, and the energy zoning bills certainly qualify in their present form, Fata and Deena Bosworth noted to podcast host Stephan Currie.

Meanwhile, MAC’s Samantha Gibson reports, the MAC-supported package to reform the state’s juvenile justice system, which includes increased compensation for counties via the Child Care Fund, made advances in the Michigan Senate, with parallel gains in the Michigan House expected soon.

Looming over every issue, though, is the unsettled legislative calendar, with the Democratic majority still expected to adjourn the body in early November in order to bring into force state law on pension tax changes and the presidential primary on schedule in early 2024.

Episode 77 – Released 9/27/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: In their last episode prior to MAC’s 2023 Annual Conference, the Podcast 83 team reviews the unsettled legislative situation in Lansing and previews the conference offerings in Kalamazoo Oct. 1 -3.

Host Stephan Currie and MAC staffers Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson detail the State Capitol news, including:

  • The ongoing march of binding arbitration expansion, despite MAC’s opposition; and
  • Continuing work on juvenile justice reform.

Also discussed is the rapidly shrinking legislative calendar for the rest of 2023, with Bosworth expressing concern that the lack of session days could prevent passage of key MAC priorities until calendar 2024.

Currie turned the conversation to next week’s MAC Annual Conference, which will feature policy presentations on road funding, the affordable housing crisis and a topic that “fascinates and terrifies” Currie: AI developments.

Episode 76 – Released 9/19/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Legislative work in Lansing is accelerating and MAC’s Podcast 83 team is your guide to everything going on at the State Capitol.

In their newest episode, host Stephan Currie and MAC staffers Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson detail the news, including:

  • A huge advance on revenue sharing reform, with a House committee giving unanimous and bipartisan support to MAC’s plan for a dedicated Revenue Sharing Trust Fund;
  • The debate over the scope of, and reimbursement for, property tax exemptions for veterans, which are now costing local governments around $100 million a year; and
  • MAC’s work to bring a reasonable approach to how Michigan regulates the siting of solar and wind energy projects.

Episode 75 – Released 9/12/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: The Michigan Legislature is back in Lansing, which means MAC’s Podcast 83 team is back on the air to deliver regular reports on legislative activity affecting Michigan’s 83 counties.

In this week’s episode, host Stephan Currie leads the team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson across the legislative landscape as it stands this fall, including:

  • Expected – and exciting – action on MAC’s push to create a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund
  • Continued work on a massive revamp of the state’s juvenile justice system
  • The new push by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others to supersede local control on solar and wind zoning powers
  • A proposal to make minimum staffing requirements a topic for collective bargaining, which could have huge implications for law enforcement and other county entities

Special Episode: Septic Code Bills – Released 8/22/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Rep. Phil Skaggs of Kent County and Madeline Fata of MAC
Topic: Septic code legislation

Rep. Phil Skaggs, D-Kent and a former Kent County commissioner, is the guest in a special episode of Podcast 83 focused on regulation of septic systems.

Skaggs is the lead sponsor of House Bill 4479, which is part of a legislative package to institute a statewide septic code, a topic of great controversy in many counties.

Among points made by Skaggs during the discussion:

  • Septic issue has been “discussed in Lansing for decades”
  • Septic pollution is “serious problem” in many communities, with “15 percent to 25 percent” of septic systems are failing
  • Introduced bill to “help start a discussion”
  • Need regular inspections because so-called “point of sale” inspections “don’t work”

HBs 447980, by Skaggs (D-Kent) and Rep. Carrie Rheingans (D-Washtenaw) respectively, and Senate Bills 299300, by Sen. Sam Singh (D-Ingham), would require homeowners with onsite wastewater treatment systems to have them inspected every five years.

Special Episode: 2023 Annual Conference – Released 8/8/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guest: Deena Bosworth and Tammi Connell of MAC
Topic: Details about the 2023 Annual Conference in Kalamazoo County are the focus of a special episode of Podcast 83, MAC’s podcast about all things related to Michigan’s 83 counties.

Guest Tammi Connell, MAC’s director of member events, provides a rundown of the conference mechanics, including the timeline for registration, when to show up at the conference venue, the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo, and even what music you can expect to hear at the Gala following the traditional President’s Banquet on the night of Monday, Oct. 2.

Deena Bosworth, MAC’s director of governmental affairs, provides more conference details, including on this event’s workshops of county leaders, including a special two-day dive into the exceedingly complicated – and important – road funding formula found in Public Act 51.

Special Episode: Revenue Sharing – Released 7/25/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guest: Deena Bosworth of MAC
Topic: MAC’s work on a Revenue Sharing Trust Fund.

Among key points made during the discussion, taped July 11, are:

  • Legislative term limits have disrupted the institutional knowledge of revenue sharing’s purpose in Lansing.
  • There is now a strong group of former county commissioners in the Legislature, however, who are well-positioned to aid in the trust fund effort.
  • The version of the legislation that has the “most momentum” is in a House committee.
  • The only stumbling block, Bosworth says, is the lack of buy-in, so far, from the State Budget Office.

“It’s called revenue sharing for a reason,” Bosworth noted. “They are supposed to be sharing the state revenue. It was established years ago because we gave up our own local taxing authority.”

Special Episode: Materials Management – Released 7/11/23
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guests: Christina Miller of Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; Madeline Fata of MAC
Topic: County responsibilities under revised state law for creating plans and implementing them to handle materials.

State law adopted in the 11th hour of the legislative session that ended in December 2022 made sweeping changes to local government responsibilities for materials management.

Christina Miller of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy discusses the new law and requirements with MAC’s Deena Bosworth and Madeline Fata. Among key points made:

  • All counties will have to adopt a new materials management plan that extends the focus beyond solid waste. Provisions of the old plan stay in effect until the new plan is adopted.
  • The state, Miller says, does not see materials management as a single-county system. The state is urging collaboration among counties and local governments.
  • The state is hoping to spur the needed infrastructure for managing materials statewide.

Budget Special – Released 6/30/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Quick review of newly enacted FY24 state budget

Episode 74 – Released 6/27/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: A highly successful committee hearing and continued uncertainty on budget timing were two of the topics discussed this week in Podcast 83, MAC’s podcast on all things related to county government.

Host Stephan Currie led the MAC Governmental Affairs Team of Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson through a tour of pending legislative matters in Lansing, including:

  • Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, with Bosworth reporting on her testimony before an apparently approving House committee on the topic, which would create a dedicated stream of sales tax dollars for county revenue sharing;
  • Public Safety Trust Fund, with Bosworth noting that the same House committee seemed to share many of MAC’s concerns about the concept, particularly its lack of provisions to recognize the growing demands on county sheriffs;
  • Juvenile Justice Reform, with Gibson explaining that key legislators are looking to spend the summer taking testimony and then act on the huge legislative package, which MAC supports, in the fall; and
  • Fiscal 2024 state budget, with Bosworth noting that the new Democratic majority in Lansing has been surprisingly tight-lipped over the final revisions to the spending plan that is expected to be finished this week for the budget year that starts Oct. 1.

Special Episode: Drain Code Bills – Released 6/20/23
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guest: Stacy Hissong of MACDC
Topic: Bills designed to allow for water management districts and for the assessment of costs across watersheds in Michigan are the topic of a special episode of MAC’s Podcast 83 released on June 20.

MAC’s Deena Bosworth hosted a session with Stacy Hissong, general counsel for the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners (MACDC) and member of the law firm of Fahey Schultz, on the proposed rewrite of Chapter 22 of the Michigan Drain Code.

House Bills 4382-83, by Reps. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason) and Christine Morse (D-Kalamazoo) respectively, would allow local governments and residents to petition the drain commissioner for the establishment of the districts and, if found necessary, to create a plan to manage stormwater within the district in ways not currently allowed.

The plan would be unique to each district and could include actionable items like regional detention, buffer strips and the creation of wetlands, rain gardens and the like. The intent is to slow down and detain water during major storm events, instead of allowing it to flood roads, fields, businesses and homes on its way to a drain. The plan must include an estimate of the cost of each recommended activity.

The legislation is backed by MAC and MACDC.

Episode 73 – Released 6/13/23
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guests: Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: The Democratic majority in the Legislature moves another step closer to an FY24 state budget, a huge package of election bills have been filed and counties need to be worried about new legislation stemming out of the Nassar scandal at Michigan State University, the Podcast 83 team noted in a new episode.

Special Episode: Groundwater Issues – Released 6/6/23
Host: Deena Bosworth
Guest: Stacy Hissong, firm of Fahey Schultz and legal adviser to Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners
Topic: How Michigan’s local governments can mitigate the damage of flooding is the topic of a special episode of MAC’s Podcast 83.

Stacy Hissong, partner at Fahey Schultz and legal adviser to the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners, is the featured guest on the episode, which is hosted by Deena Bosworth, MAC’s governmental affairs director.

The pair discuss:

  • Excess flooding and how local governments can deal with it with tools they have now
  • Legislation in Lansing to create more tools to aid residents in avoiding damage
  • The history of how Michigan has dealt with groundwater and why the state has challenges now

Special Episode: Juvenile Justice Reform – Released 5/30/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guest: Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topic: In a special episode of Podcast 83, MAC Governmental Affairs Associate Samantha Gibson provides a detailed overview of a 20-bill package to reform Michigan’s juvenile justice system.

Juvenile justice reform has long been a priority for MAC and the issue gained momentum with the release of recommendations from a state task force formed in 2021. The new legislative package is largely built on the task force’s ideas and is strongly supported by MAC.

Increasing the Child Care Fund reimbursement rate for counties to 75 percent, from the current 50 percent, is the no. 1 priority for MAC in this package, Gibson explained. Also, the package will reform juvenile justice services by using mental health and risk screening tools to benefit youth in the system and allow counties to better serve court-involved youth. The best practices that would be implemented within this policy, Gibson said, will allow for rehabilitation and reintroduction into society, as well as lead to reduced recidivism rates for court-involved youth.

Episode 72 – Released 5/23/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Legislators have enough money to pass a fiscal 2024 budget that includes significant increases in county revenue sharing and in reimbursements from the Child Care Fund, among other county priorities, MAC’s Podcast 83 team reported this week.

Episode 71 – Released 5/16/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Progress on the state’s fiscal 2024 budget continues to look promising for Michigan counties, and MAC and its allies are having success in fending off ill-considered mining legislation in the Michigan House, MAC’s Podcast 83 team said in its most recent episode.

Host Stephan Currie and guests Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC’s Governmental Affairs staff reviewed the last week’s activity in Lansing in this episode, focusing on:

  • The state budget and the May 19 Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, which may show state resources are not as high as were once expected;
  • The ongoing battle over gravel and sand mining regulation, with MAC and its allies battling against an attack on local control;
  • The latest on juvenile justice reform legislation, one of MAC’s key priorities for 2023; and
  • The arrival of legislation for a statewide septic code.

Episode 70 – Released 5/9/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Currie and the MAC Governmental Affairs Team catch up on legislative activity, particularly the following:

  • Attack on local control, part I (mining): House Bills 4526-28 would gut the principle of local control in a bid to make it easier to site gravel and sand pits around Michigan.
  • Attack on local control, part II (labor): House Bill 4438 would extend binding arbitration to county correctional officers, thereby transferring decisions on county staffing and budget matters to unaccountable third parties.

However, those bills, and potentially every other legislative initiative, could be halted in a matter of weeks due to political gamesmanship in Lansing and the action of “sine die.”

Episode 69 – Released 5/2/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Host Stephan Currie led MAC governmental affairs associates Samantha Gibson and Madeline Fata through the recent budget activity in Lansing that directly affects the county bottom line in the latest episode of Podcast 83.

Among key points made during the episode:

  • Counties could see a big increase in revenue sharing funds if the House and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer get their way.
  • County reimbursement via the Child Care Fund could be headed to 75 percent, from the current 50 percent.
  • Majority Democrats on transportation spending panels voted to spend more money on infrastructure than Gov. Whitmer requested.

All this budget work, however, hinges on the results of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference scheduled for May 19. At that point, legislators will know exactly how much revenue is available for use in the fiscal 2024 budget.

Currie and guests also recapped MAC’s recent Legislative Conference, which was highlighted by a panel of legislative leaders discussing their views on key county topics.

Special Episode: Indigent Defense Financial Strains – Released 4/18/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth and Samantha Gibson of MAC; Margaret McAvoy and Andrew DeLeeuw of MIDC
Topic: In a special episode, Podcast 83 delves into the growing financial strain on counties imposed by directives of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.

McAvoy, a former Isabella County administrator, and DeLeeuw, interim deputy county administrator for Washtenaw County, talked about their experience on the commission, which “was created by legislation in 2013 after an advisory commission recommended improvements to the state’s legal system. The MIDC works to ensure the state’s public defense system is fair, cost-effective and constitutional while simultaneously protecting public safety and accountability,” and the importance of its work.

Gibson reviewed the of MIDC’s new standard 8 on prosecuting attorney offices and staffing.

Special Episode: Trial Court Funding – Released 4/11/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topic: MAC details the long-simmering crisis in trial court funding that soon may come to a boil in Lansing. Samantha Gibson, MAC’s legislative point person on court issues, reviews the crisis with Podcast 83 host Stephan Currie and Deena Bosworth, MAC’s director of governmental affairs.

In this episode:

  • Gibson provides an overview on the court funding dilemma: how we got here, next steps and current litigation
  • Plans are detailed for implementing the 2019 Trial Court Funding Commission’s recommendations via legislative action in Lansing
  • Learn more about Plan B: Emergency funding of $46 million to keep courts operating if the Michigan Supreme Court rules in People v. Johnson before the Legislature acts on funding recommendations

Special Episode: Lake Levels – Released 3/29/23
Host: Deena Bosworth of MAC
Guest: Stacy Hissong, general counsel for the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners and member of the law firm of Fahey Schultz
Topic: Discussion of the rising issue of inland lake levels with a legal expert on county responsibilities for lakes. Learn more about the unique role of Michigan’s county drain commissioners and the challenges that counties face on the approximately 400 inland lakes for which they have operational responsibility

Episode 68 – Released 3/21/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Major changes are – and could be – coming to three significant areas of county responsibility, MAC’s Podcast 83 team said:

  • Juvenile justice reform legislation, with Gibson saying a large packet of bills would constitute “a whole juvenile system overhaul”
  • Materials management, with Fata reporting that the clock is ticking for counties to make a big decision on whether, under state law passed last year, they will write new solid waste plans or let the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy do so
  • Revenue sharing reform, with Bosworth detailing her recent testimony to multiple legislative panels on MAC’s plan to create a protected fund for revenue sharing payments and create parity between counties and other local governments on such appropriations

Episode 67 – Released 3/7/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: In their regular weekly episode, MAC’s Podcast 83 team discusses the following news involving county governments in Michigan:

  • Legislative passage of billion-dollar spending plan for economic development
  • Activity from the 2023 National Association of Counties conference in Washington, D.C., in February
  • Litigation involving fees charged by Michigan trial courts
  • Podcast host Stephan Currie’s visit to the Upper Peninsula for the 2023 Continental Cup ski jump competition in Dickinson County

Special Episode: Tax Foreclosures – Released 2/14/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Ted Seitz of Dykema law firm, Deena Bosworth, MAC Governmental Affairs Director
Topics: In this special episode, MAC talks with Ted Seitz, an expert in property tax law, about ongoing litigation on tax foreclosures on property and the resulting proceeds from tax sales.

Episode 66 – Released 2/9/23
Guest Host: Deena Bosworth, MAC Governmental Affairs Director
Guests: Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Initial review of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s FY24 budget proposal, including a 17% increase on county revenue sharing and new dollars for juvenile justice and foster care. Also, questions linger on road funding as push for electric vehicles continues in Michigan.

Episode 65 – Released 1/27/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth, Madeline Fata and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: MAC’s Governmental Affairs Team reviews Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fifth State of the State address and what her various proposals could mean for county governments and county priorities in 2023.

Special Episode – 2023 Priorities – Released 1/24/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Deena Bosworth of MAC
Topics: In this special episode, recorded on Jan. 20, 2023, Deena Bosworth discusses 2 of MAC’s 6 legislative priorities for 2023 that deal with proper reimbursement for counties for property tax exemptions granted by the state.

Episode 64 – Released 1/6/23
Host: Stephan Currie
Guests: Amy Dolinky and Samantha Gibson of MAC
Topics: Overview of MAC’s expanding services to assist counties in planning the use of their opioid settlement funds

For episodes from prior years, visit MAC’s YouTube channel.

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