Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > April 12, 2024 | This Week in Government: $160M NFL Draft Economic Impact

April 12, 2024 | This Week in Government: $160M NFL Draft Economic Impact

April 12, 2024
Detroit Regional Chamber Presents This Week in Government, powered by Gongwer, Michigan's home for Policy and Politics news since 1906

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, provides members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

$160M Economic Impact Possible Via NFL Draft in Detroit: Analysis

Downtown Detroit businesses could net a positive economic impact of about $160 million while the city hosts the National Football League draft later this month, according to an economic consulting firm’s review.

East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group, LLC, in an analysis released Monday said it estimated a direct economic impact of about $97.5 million for the city of Detroit as well as $35.1 million in expenditures by attendees.

The firm, in a release, stated that its analysis followed a methodology considering direct costs and other factors, including the lost spending from people who normally would spend time in the downtown area but instead avoided the event.

Expenditures weighed in the analysis include hotel costs, bar and restaurant spending and the buying of merchandise.

“Hosting the NFL draft is another exciting win for Detroit and presents invaluable opportunities for the city to showcase its culture on a national stage, once again potentially fostering long-term tourism and investment prospects,” Tyler Theile, vice president and director of economic analysis and public policy for the firm, said in a statement.

The NFL draft is a three-day, free event in downtown Detroit. The firm said the event being free increases accessibility but reduces the economic effect of ticket revenue.

As a nationally televised and highly anticipated event, the NFL draft is a yearly event that is sought after by large cities nationally as a host site, similar to major sporting events including the Super Bowl, professional all-star games or college postseason tournament events.

Senate to Move Its Version of Trial Court Funding Bills Next Week

The Senate will soon begin moving its own version of legislation to extend the sunset of a law enabling courts to impose costs in criminal cases, ensuring passage as soon as possible given the currently tied House.

Lawmakers face a May 1 deadline to address the sunset. A 2014 Michigan Supreme Court ruling created the issue. It ruled trial courts could not levy certain costs on defendants. This could lead to an estimated $100 million shortfall for local courts.

Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Sen. Sue Shink (D-Northfield Township) introduced SB 814 and SB 815 >on Wednesday. The bills were introduced following conversations with stakeholders and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi), Chang said.

With the House tied 54-54 until two vacancies are filled in special elections this month, there would currently need to be bipartisan votes in the House to move their legislation.

The two vacancies are expected to be filled by Democrats, restoring their 56-54 majority, leaving little time to move the House bills before the deadline.

Chang said Thursday that the introduction of the two bills is a Plan B.

“We want to have a couple of different options on the table,” Chang said. “Our hope is the House bills are the ones that get done.”

She said the Senate bills are expected to be heard before the , and Public Safety Committee that she chairs next week and quickly moved through the full Senate.

Without an extension of the sunset, courts cannot impose costs, which make up salaries and benefits for court staff, goods and services needed for court operations and expenses necessary for court facilities to operate.

Movement on one of the bill packages is key, given the split in the House and the five-day rule for legislation, so she said moving the Senate bills will provide flexibility ahead of May 1.

“That’s why we have a Plan A and Plan B,” Chang said.

An extension of the law’s sunset through December 2026 would be enacted through SB 815.

The State Court Administrative Office under SB 814 would be required to review and determine the amount of potential lost revenue for trial courts, the minimum operational cost for trial courts, and the additional funds needed. A report would be provided to the Legislature with recommendations on ways to cover additional costs following the elimination of fees.

In the House, HB 5392 is the sunset extension bill, and HB 5534 is the SCAO cost determination bill. Some House Republicans have raised concerns over the Democratic majority seeking to tie-bar the two bills (See Gongwer Michigan Report, March 13, 2024).

The most recent extension was passed in October 2022, with the extension being approved after the deadline. The Legislature then backfilled the money for court operations through an appropriations bill.

“I’m hoping we don’t get to that point,” Chang said.

Safe and Just: Improvements Needed for Expungement Process

Michigan may have the broadest expungement system in the country, but there is more work needed to maximize the impact for those who qualify for cleared criminal records, Safe and Just Michigan said in a report released Thursday.

Expungement reforms passed by the Legislature have allowed for unprecedented numbers of expungements, the advocacy group that supports criminal justice reforms and was a key supporter of the new laws now in their third year, said in its report.

However, there are challenges still related to petition filing and processing, notifications to those who have their records automatically expunged and delays in processing.

The state received 7,458 expungement petitions in 2021, 15,056 in 2022, and 9,268 in 2023, the report said, citing Department of Attorney General data. As of March 21, 2024, more than 1.4 million people have had some or all of their records automatically expunged.

“Clean Slate is a powerful tool that provides fresh starts and new opportunities to people around Michigan,” Safe and Just Michigan Executive Director John Cooper said in a statement. “But over the past three years, as we’ve helped people expunge their records, we’re seeing how many individuals are still struggling to take advantage of the new Clean Slate laws, and we’ve identified clear steps the state can take to make expungements easier and ensure that expunged records are truly shielded from public view.”

For petition-based expungements, the process is complicated. And while it does not require an attorney, some who file a defective petition must wait three years to file another.

Those who see their records automatically wiped are not notified. The report recommends a state-run portal so individuals can look up their records and see if they have had convictions removed.

There are also blind spots in the online system that automatically clears records, the report said. Some convictions were entered into a database without the proper code, some individuals with open cases will not see convictions erased and those with felonies see a delay in getting the charge cleared as officials go through the flagged cases manually.

The report said the Department of State Police estimated there are as many as 76,000 felony cases that need to be reviewed before they can be processed.

Additionally, the report said commercial background check companies sometimes fail to update their records in a timely manner, so expunged convictions continue to appear.

Safe and Just recommended fixes to those issues, including a portal to search records, more oversight of background check companies, greater access to the state’s criminal record check system, and some statutory fixes to address some conflicting parts of law.

“Michigan enacted some of the strongest Clean Slate laws in the country, but over the past three years, we’ve identified aspects of the law that can be improved upon,” Clean Slate Project Manager Kamau Sandiford said. “We’ve outlined some targeted measures lawmakers could take to refine the existing process and make the expungement process easier, which will ultimately lead to more people in Michigan working at good jobs and providing for their families. There’s no reason not to do this.”

Too Little Funding, Too Few Staff for Community Mental Health

Community mental health stakeholders testified on the state of mental and behavioral health care in Michigan before a House panel Wednesday morning to advocate for increased funding to address staffing shortages and inadequate rate setting.

Alan Bolter, the associate director of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, testified before the House Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee along with CEOs of regional community mental health organizations from across the state.

“The financial jeopardy is widespread,” said Brad Casemore, CEO of Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health. “It is structural and not a result of poor management.”

There’s a shortage of direct care workers across the state of Michigan, said Matt Maskart, CEO of Pathways Community Mental Health. The job is difficult, he said, and direct care workers make, on average, about $16 per hour.

At Pathways, which serves several counties in the Upper Peninsula, 10% of the clinical positions are unfilled, Maskrat said. Many members of the organization’s current staff are leaving their positions to work in state-funded, school-based mental health programs.

“These staff are attracted to higher compensation, less challenging clinical cases, and most of all, summers off,” Maskart said. “This is not a problem unique to Pathways. … It is imperative that the wage adjustments for direct care workers increase. This will help retain and recruit caring staff to serve some of the most vulnerable.”

Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Community Mental Health faces similar challenges, said Sara Luvie, the organization’s CEO.

She said that while the organization has made strives to serve more people, follow evidence-based best practices, and provide care coordination in a way that is financially sustainable and sustainable, it’s difficult to find people who are willing to stick with the job.

Further, the reports and paperwork required by the Department of Health and Human Services pulls people away from providing the care they’re passionate about, Luvie said.

All the stakeholders who testified advocated for increased Medicaid and Healthy Michigan rate setting in the next fiscal year.

The governor’s budget proposal maintained an $.85 increase for direct care workers, which the stakeholders said was not enough to keep pace with the needs of workers or the needs of the state.

Rep. Donni Steele (R-Orion Township) asked if the Medicaid re-enrollment process was helping realign the amount of care needed with the amount of resources care providers can access.

The answer was a resounding no.

“Demand doesn’t go down when Medicaid enrollment goes down,” Luvie said. “It stays the same and puts more of a burden on our general fund to keep people in care.”

Casemore said that many pre-paid inpatient health plans across Michigan were being forced to tap into Medicaid savings to provide care. Health care providers are allowed to roll over a certain amount of funding annually, but there is a cap.

Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township) wondered if removing that cap on Medicaid savings might help meet the funding needs.

“If it were in the state and federal documents and if it were to be in the PIHP contracts, then yeah,” Caseman said.

No further action was taken by the committee. Subcommittees are expected to begin moving their budget recommendations sometime in the coming weeks.

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