Law confuses local officials ahead of March elections

Capital News Service
LANSING — As upcoming March elections approach, local government officials are struggling to comply with the new state law that restricts them from sharing information about their ballot initiatives. Sometimes they’ve had to interrupt efforts already underway. “Fremont had 3,000 brochures that were ready to be sent out, not advocating but just educating about how a millage will be used, but they couldn’t send them out,” said Steve Currie, deputy director of the Michigan Association of Counties. Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new law Jan. 16 that prohibits local government discussion of ballot proposals 60 days before an election.

Counties struggle after losing court revenue

Capital News Service
LANSING — A Michigan Supreme Court decision cutting a major source of funding for local courts could cost some counties more than $1 million, unless the Legislature reinstates their ability to assess court costs in criminal cases. The decision struck down a long-standing practice that reduced local courts’ reliance on taxpayers after the Supreme Court concluded that they lack the legal authority to collect the money. The estimated yearly loss ranges from $1.5 million in Berrien County to $45,000 in Missaukee County, according to the Michigan Association of Counties. Manistee County Treasurer Russell Pomeroy said the loss of funding places him, and other local officials, in uncertainty as they reconfigure their budgets and wait for legislative action. “We’re just hoping that the Legislature will come up with some sort of fix because that’s a large hit for us to take all in one year,” Pomeroy said.