May 1, 2020
Governor extends State of Emergency, court battle looms

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed new Executive Orders Thursday night to extend Michigan’s State of Emergency and Disaster Declarations until May 28.

EO 66 terminated the previous State of Emergency (SOE) order that expired April 30. EO 67 states that Michigan remains under an SOE via the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which, unlike the Emergency Management Act of 1976, has no time limit on a declaration and no requirement for the Legislature to extend the declaration. The governor also issued EO 68, which declares the new State of Emergency and disaster under the Emergency Management Act through May 28.

Also, limits on places such as bars, restaurants and theaters are extended for the duration of the SOE under EO 69. The order continues to allow businesses to offer food and beverage using delivery service and takeout services. ...

NACo leader touts '3 T's' and 'guardrails' for next federal rescue bill

In final event of 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference, the head of the National Association of Counties urged Michigan leaders to contact their members of Congress to back a “CARES Act 2.0” measure that would include $125 billion in direct aid to counties.

Matt Chase, NACo executive director, said the U.S. House is expected to take the lead on the bill. “Bipartisanship support for local aid is building,” Chase said. “But we need to keep up the pressure.”

Chase said NACo’s message to Congress centered on two themes right now:

  • Focus on the 3 T’s of testing, tracing and treatment
  • Counties want “guardrails, not third rails,” a response to criticism by some lawmakers that local governments want to use COVID funds to handle longstanding and unrelated fiscal issues, such as pensions. ...

Maximize your use of MAC's heat map to track COVID's advance

MAC members are encouraged to regularly visit to use the COVID tracking heat map put together for us by Munetrix. The map has many features of which members may not be aware.

For example, using the cases per 100,000 residents function (see images below), you can see the advance of COVID while adjusting for population. Some notable results in this feature:

  • Otsego and Crawford counties have rates approaching 400 cases per 100,000 residents
  • Shiawassee, Hillsdale, Tuscola, Lapeer, St. Clair, Iosco and Alpena counties are near or over the 200 cases per 100,000 residents rate

The highest county rate remains Wayne with 1,783 cases per 100,000 residents; five UP counties (Alger, Baraga, Iron, Keweenaw and Ontonagon) show a rate of 0 cases, when adjusting for population. (All figures are from the state’s April 30 report.) ...

Wave of property tax forgiveness bills hits State Capitol

With 25 percent of Michigan’s work force unemployed and continued uncertainty about when the state will reopen, legislators are advancing property tax relief measures that would affect counties:

  • House Bill 5705 (Rep. Yaroch, R-Macomb) would exempt property taxes for second homes during the period of time owners were banned from utilizing that property.
  • House Bill 5738 (Rep. Elder, D-Bay) would allow county treasurers to temporarily suspend strict compliance with the foreclosure process and extend the redemption deadline for 30 days after the State of Emergency is lifted. ...

Return of construction work has counties staffing up

With an Executive Order expected at any time to allow for most construction work to resume during the State of Emergency, county leaders across Michigan are pulling in staff to ensure building departments are ready for regulatory and permit requests

A flood of requests is expected on May 7, the expected date of the easing of restrictions on the industry.

Some counties have asked staff to return to work already in order to prepare. Many administrators and building department staff are working on formalizing protocols: some counties will interface with the public by appointment-only, while some will open the county building and follow social-distancing protocols and require face masks.

So far, at least 12 counties have confirmed plans to resume building inspections by May 7. 
Enbridge moves ahead with Line 5 permitting process

Enbridge has filed a new state permit application with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) that would allow work to begin sooner on the tunnel that will house the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

The energy firm is seeking a declaratory ruling from the MPSC it already has the authority to relocate the pipeline to the new tunnel, which would sidestep a lengthy approval process that could take an additional year. ...

MAC sets May 6 webinar to aid counties on return-to-work plans

Counties continue their planning to return more employees to on-site operations. In a webinar on May 6, experts from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) will walk participants through MMRMA’s COVID-19 Model Response Plan and then take questions from MAC members.

To pre-register for this event, click here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
18 mental health entities get federal help under Stabenow bill
Eighteen Michigan community mental health organizations have been selected as Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced this week. Michigan will receive $54,452,014 in new funding for the clinics.

Stabenow’s announcement is a result of the passage of the “Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act,” which she sponsored. Stabenow discussed this important legislation and upcoming funding with Michigan county leaders during a MAC-sponsored briefing with her in March on Capitol Hill (see photo at right). ...

Each week, Legislative Update will feature a round-up of news and information links suggested by members of MAC's staff:

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Have a job to fill? MAC can help
Need to fill a key position in your county team? MAC can help. Our Jobs Hub page is the go-to source for county leaders looking to find the best employees. A $75 fee covers a posting of up to 30 days, along with promotion via MAC's social media channels

Jobs now to be found at the hub:

  • City Administrator, City of Windsor Heights, Iowa
  • City Administrator, City of Muscatine, Iowa
  • Financial and Administrative Services Director, Michigan Association of Counties

For more information, visit the  MAC Jobs Hub  or contact Derek Melot,  or 517-372-5374.
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MAC's  online message board  allows county commissioners to share challenges, solutions and ideas with their colleagues. You must register to use the message board. Easy-to-follow instructions for registration can be  found here .

For more information on the Forum, contact Derek Melot at .
The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), founded on February 1, 1898, is the only statewide organization dedicated to the representation of all county commissioners in Michigan.
MAC is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization which advances education, communication and cooperation among county government officials in Michigan. MAC is the counties' voice at the State Capitol, providing legislative support on key issues affecting counties.
Michigan Association of Counties
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Tel: (800) 258-1152 or (517) 372-5374
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