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NASW March Legislative Monthly Update

Friday, March 1, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Algeria Wilson
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NASW March Legislative Monthly Update



Happy Social Work Month! I am honored to join the National Association of Social Workers, Michigan Chapter as the new Director of Public Policy. I want to thank everyone for their warm welcomes! I also would like to thank Allan Wachendorfer, past Director of Public Policy, Dr. Maxine Thome, Executive Director or NASW-MI, Noah Smith, partner at Capitol Services Inc, board members and key committed NASW social work members for their input, and support towards helping me transition into this position. Following in Allan’s shoes will not be easy but, we can be assured that NASW- MI’s legislative future is bright.


Since starting at NASW-MI in December, I have been working with our Legislative and Social Policy Committee, Multi-Client Lobbyist , key partners and  members to create our 2019-20 legislative agenda, which include issues of the following: Increasing Social Workers into the SUD workforce, Student Loan Repayment for Social Workers, Implementing communication assessments into mental health code for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, joining  the Long Term Care Stakeholder Committee for the Long Term Care Evaluation Study in Michigan, facilitated by Michigan United, MDHHS; and more.


In addition, taking efforts to Increase the number of politically activated social workers at the local and state level through programming and events such as:  The Wayne County / Region 11 Public Policy Town Hall, Substance Use Disorders: The Intersection of Treatment, Policy and Social Work Ethics Workshop, and the recruitment of new members to MPACE.


Monthly I will provide a legislative update for members to stay informed on what NASW-MI is up to. However, if there are issues going on in your community that we should know about please do not hesitate to reach out to me!


If you would like to receive these monthly updates in your inbox, you can get them here


You can get action alerts from national here (*note the sites look almost identical):


You can get national legislative updates here:


In Solidarity,


Algeria Wilson



Legislative and Social Policy Committee Report

Algeria Wilson and Noah Smith


State of the State

Governor Whitmer outlined an ambitious agenda during her first and rescheduled Feb. 12 State of the State Address. From NASW’s perspective, there is plenty to like therein, apart from fixing roads:

   MI Opportunity Scholarship, offering free Community College for two years (State picks up the tab after Pell grants and other state awards are applied) for graduating high school seniors looking for skills-based jobs

  MI Opportunity Scholarship offering two years of tuition assistance ($2,500) for high school graduates going to a 4-year university (and holding at least a B average)

 “Michigan Reconnect;” a program to help re-train adults for newer, on-demand industries (25 years and older, tuition assistance for technical certification, associates, or bachelors)

  Expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to cover the LGBTQ+ community (state employees, state contracting, as well as expanding the law itself)

  Veto any legislation made “referendum-proof” by adding a small appropriation (which takes political power out of citizens’ hands)


Whitmer also spent a good deal of time discussing the need to better-fund Michigan’s K-12 educational system, including paying teachers and support staff more.

Clearly, Governor Whitmer’s goals for improving Michigan’s competitiveness – in terms of attracting good employers and educating and retaining a great workforce – are focused on investing in the state; in her words: “nobody invests in a state that doesn’t invest in itself.”


Paid Sick Time and Minimum Wage

LSP members will remember that last Fall, the legislature took an “adopt and amend” process regarding the ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage to $12-an-hour and provide up to 72 hours per year of paid sick time. This meant that the legislature adopted the citizen-passed initiatives, making them into law, and then amended those laws by a simple majority vote (had they not adopted the laws themselves, it would have taken ¾ vote of each chamber) to less money and less time. Criticized as a dirty trick by the groups who worked to pass the initiatives, they vowed to return and pass what they originally intended to.

The groups backing those initiatives have moved forward with a legal challenge, supported by an Attorney General opinion from (now former) Attorney General Frank Kelly that indicates the legislature cannot adopt a citizen-initiated petition and amend it in the same session. If that (and other) legal challenge is accepted, the legislature’s changes could well be void, and the language returns to how the legislature initially adopted it.


Criminal Justice

The focus of the legislature’s aggressive posture on criminal justice reforms this session – in which lawmakers promise this to be a banner session for reforms (when last session was among the most prolific years of reforms in recent history) – is on giving returning citizens access to Michigan’s exploding job market.


NASW is a part of the 100th Legislature’s massive Criminal Justice Caucus. This caucus is outlining changes that will include expanding Michigan’s criminal record expungement statutes, tackling how bond is issued, removing many of Michigan’s driver’s license sanctions, and increasing funding and programs for job training and retraining for parolees, probationers, and prospective parolees.


Additionally, NASW was a member of a large coalition of organizations working last session on the “Raise the Age” issue; this issue would raise the age of majority for the purposes of determining adulthood for the courts from 17 to 18. This is a massive change and would qualify thousands of youth for access to youth offender programs they can’t qualify for now because 17-year old were counted as adults. This package of bills stalled at the end of session last year.


The great news is that it has been reintroduced. HB  4133 – 4146 and SB 90 – 102 represent the 100th legislature’s attempt to Raise the Age in Michigan. NASW will play an important role, not only in getting the bills passed, but in implementing the legislation as thousands of 17-year old will qualify for court-ordered diversion programs and treatment programs that they cannot reach today.


Executive Meetings

Newly-Appointed DHHS Director Robert Gordon has appointed Elizabeth Hertel as the Public Health Director. Director Gordon has not yet appointed the Mental Health Director.

Elizabeth brings a wealth of experience and connections to DHHS, most recently having been director of government relations for Trinity Health one of the largest hospital systems in the country. She was previously employed by the Snyder Administration early-on in the legislative liaison role and has also held a policy role at Blue Cross.


Elizabeth will certainly have a significant hand in whomever the Administration appoints to lead Mental Health at DHHS. In the meantime, LSP will plan to engage Hertel in potentially the March LSP meeting (unless a new Mental Health Director is chosen by then). Additionally, LSP will engage newly-appointed Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks.




Substance Abuse Funding


Four percent of the state's liquor tax money -- roughly $18 million -- would go every year to substance abuse programs, under legislation that moved out of a House committee this morning.


HB 4057, a version of a Rep. Steve MARINO (R-Harrison Twp.) bill from last year, creates a revenue stream for community mental agencies as they try to treat alcohol and drug addictions.


The Michigan Association of Counties, the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan and other treatment organizations are supporting the legislation, an offshoot of last term's House CARES Task Force on mental health treatments.


Of the new revenue stream. HB 4057 would create, 25 percent would go specifically to treat something other than alcohol addiction -- like opioids, for example, which Marino called an epidemic in his home of Macomb County.


"I know it's not specific to just my area," Marino told the House Health Policy Committee last week. "It effects everyone's districts in this room. It doesn't discriminate based on age, gender, race, creed."


AFSCME Council 25, which represents many government employees who are on the frontlines of dealing with people with substance abuse issues, is in support of the bill as well, said lobbyist Tim GREIMEL.


"It's common sense to use a revenue stream and dedicate it to the important mission of mental health disorders," he said. "This is by no means enough to adequately fund these programs, but it is a small step in the right direction."


Last year's Marino bill tried to take a portion of the year-to-year increase in revenue collected by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. That bill (HB 5085) passed the House, 104-3, last year before dying in the Senate.


Part of the problem remains the opposition of the State Budget Office because it pokes a hole in the state's General Fund revenue stream as opposed to creating a new funding source.


The bill moved out to the House Ways & Means Committee unanimously. Rep. Mary WHITEFORD (R-Casco Twp.) passed on the vote.


Semester Update from our Social Policy MSW Intern

Hailey Richards, Social Policy Intern


Some of my long-term goals for the semester include organizing a summit for macro social workers and writing a grant to support health care needs of transgender youth.  The macro social work summit will feature topics like Social Enterprise, Community Organization, Research and Evaluation, Philanthropy, Development, and Fundraising.  The day-long summit is scheduled for Friday, May 10th, 2019, and continuing education credits will be offered.  In addition to event planning and grant seeking, I have been regularly attending legislative committee meetings and policy forums in order to learn about current bills and policies that have implications for social workers and their clients.  I have also been working to update the NASW – Michigan’s legislative action center with relevant bills that NASW – MI either currently, supports, opposes, or is monitoring.

Systemic Underfunding of Michigan’s Public Mental Health System.


Below is the analysis that the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan conducted around the systemic underfunding of Michigan’s public mental health system.

Michigan’s public mental health system is one of the most comprehensive and advanced in the country. However, over the past several years, several financing decisions, by the State of Michigan, have systematically eroded the ability of Michigan’s public mental health system to meet the needs of Michiganders who have come to rely upon the system while similarly eroding the fiscal stability of this public system. This systemic underfunding has a negative effect on many social workers and their clients. Without adequate support by the State of Michigan, social workers may not be well equipped to provide the best, most up-to-date care for their clients.

Of special note are items 3 and 4, especially given the on-going debate as to whether the state’s Medicaid mental health care management system should be privatized.

Executive Summary of the CMH Association analysis: Systemic underfunding of Michigan’s public mental health system

Michigan’s public mental health system is one of the most comprehensive and advanced in the country. However, over the past several years, several financing decisions, by the State of Michigan, have systematically eroded the ability of Michigan’s public mental health system to meet the needs of Michiganders who have come to rely upon the system while similarly eroding the fiscal stability of this public system.

These practices result in “death by a thousand cuts” and include the following:

1. Growing demand for mental health services not reflected in funding to the public system: While the demand for wide range of mental health services, in communities across Michigan, has grown dramatically over the past several years, the funding for the public mental health system responsible for meeting those needs has not. Those needs range from addressing the opioid crisis to preventing suicide; from keeping kids in school safe and successful to supporting persons with disabilities to live in the community.

2. Insufficient Medicaid funding to meet community demand and real costs of care: The factors behind this underfunding include: the funding approach being based on two-year-old data, thus not reflecting current and emerging needs and costs.

3. Insufficient Medicaid funding to meet community demand and real costs of care: The state’s public Medicaid mental health system was underfunded by $133 million in Fiscal Year 2017. During that period, the public system spent over 99% of the funds that it received on mental health services with 6.1% spent on administration. During that same year, the private Medicaid managed care plans took in profits of over $136 million, while spending only 89.8% on medical services with administrative costs 40% higher than the public system.

4. Failure of the state to fund federally required contributions to public mental health system’s risk reserves: For the past twenty years, the Medicaid funding provided to the state’s public mental health system did not include the federally required risk-reserve contribution component that would have allowed Michigan’s public mental health system to build and retain the necessary risk reserves – reserves necessary for any risk-bearing managed care entity.

If the Medicaid rates paid to the public mental health system had included even a modest component (2%) to provide for contributions to reserves and risk margins, the public mental health system would have received $50 million more in Medicaid payments in the current fiscal year, FY 2018 and nearly $700 million over its twenty-year history, providing reserves sufficient to weather a range of fiscal storms.

5. Inability of the public system to retain savings of sufficient size to ensure fiscal stability:  The PIHPs (the public health plans that receive the Medicaid payments from the state) are prohibited from holding sufficient risk reserves. Similarly, the CMHs are prohibited from retaining any Medicaid savings that they generate through efficiencies and effective clinical practices. These savings, permitted for any other healthcare provider, would allow the CMHs to invest in meeting community needs and ensuring their clinical and fiscal stability.

6. Inappropriate state demand that county funds be used to close Medicaid gap: County funds are inappropriately drained from the system to cover state Medicaid obligations:

A. Over the past several years, in lieu of holding up its end of the risk-sharing arrangement that MDHHS has with the state’s public mental health system, MDHHS has demanded that county funds be used to cover the Medicaid costs not covered by state Medicaid dollars

B. For the past decade, the State of Michigan has required that the public mental health system use of local dollars – the bulk of them coming from Michigan counties – to underwrite part of the state’s share of the Medicaid mental health budget. Over $25 million is annually used to cover this obligation.

7. General Fund short fall: While long insufficient, the State General Fund (non-Medicaid) support for the public mental health system and its ability to meet increasing community demand has fallen off dramatically. The 60% cut to the GF revenues of the state’s CMHs, in 2014 and 2015, led to 10,000 fewer persons receiving services. [1] As a result of this cut, $7.50 per person per year is available, to the public mental health system, to provide mental care to the 8 million Michiganders without Medicaid coverage.

Call for Action: Action must be taken to close these funding and financial practices gaps to ensure ready access to mental health care, for Michiganders, and to ensure the fiscal stability of the public system upon which these Michiganders have come to rely.

Visit the CMHAM website for more information.




Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Acts (HB 4083 & HB 4090)

Organization Position Statement


We, the National Association of Social Workers in Michigan, strongly opposes legislation to ban a county (HB 4090) or local unit of government (HB 4083) from enacting or enforcing any kind of law or policy that limits or prohibits local officials, law enforcement officers and employees of those entities from “communicating or cooperating” with federal officials concerning the immigration status of an individual in the state of Michigan.


Immediately following a 60-day grace period for governments to come into compliance with the law, the bills provide for enforcement through litigation brought by either individual citizens or the Attorney General. Specifically, the bills allow any individual resident of a county or local unit of government to sue in state court if they believe that the county or local unit of government was enacting or enforcing a law, policy, or rule that limits or prohibits an officer or employee from communicating or cooperating with appropriate federal officials concerning the immigration status of an individual. The bills require the attorney general to bring an action for non-compliance in the relevant circuit court.


The bill provides for mandatory remedies if a violation is found, including: (1) an injunction restraining the county or local unit of government from enforcing the law, ordinance, policy, or rule; (2) mandatory repeal of the law, ordinance, policy, or rule, and an award of actual damages and costs; and (3) reasonable attorney fees to the party challenging the law, ordinance, policy, or rule.


HB 4083 further provides for an additional mandatory civil penalty to be imposed against an elected or appointed official who knowingly or willfully violates the law.


Further information, including the full text of the bills, is available on the Michigan Legislature website here and here.




NASW-Michigan strongly opposes these bills because they would create powerful incentives for racial profiling in our communities, siphon valuable local resources for federal immigration enforcement, and limit the ability of local jurisdictions to decide whether to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.


The bills are substantially similar to legislation introduced in 2009 (HB 4044), 2015 (SB 445) and 2017 (HB 4105 & HB 4334). They place tremendous burdens on local government to assume federal immigration law enforcement duties. Increasingly, ICE is asking local units of government to do its job of immigration enforcement. Currently, localities retain the discretion to choose when and how to cooperate with these requests [1]. The bills would take away that discretion and make cooperation and information-sharing mandatory in all circumstances. There are numerous, well-documented reasons local governments could and should elect not to volunteer their county resources to federal immigration enforcement efforts.


The kind of ICE collaboration required by the bills would create a wedge between local governments and the constituents they represent. Studies have shown that when local officials collaborate with ICE for immigration enforcement, public trust is lost. Law enforcement leaders all over the country have explained that attaching immigration consequences to police interactions makes ordinary police work more difficult [2]. In a recent study, a majority of prosecutors, judges, and police officers reported that ramped-up immigration enforcement makes it harder to protect local communities from crime [3]. Indeed, since the Trump administration took office, crime reporting has plummeted amongst Latinos in multiple cities [4]. And academic studies have confirmed that immigrants avoid local authorities who act as a pipeline to the deportation system [5].


The bills would also distract governments from their primary goals ensuring public safety in their communities—delivering essential services and resources and regulating county and city laws— to focusing on the unrelated task of federal immigration law. The kind of ICE collaboration the bills require would put incredible strain on already sparse local budgets and resources. We pay local taxes to fund local operations, and federal taxes to fund federal operations. ICE is a multibillion dollar-a-year federal immigration enforcement agency that does not need to take away from city and county resources that are desperately needed to maintain local infrastructure, support the arts and education, and ensure public safety within the jurisdiction.


Immigration enforcement by local jurisdictions also increases the risk of racial profiling in our communities [6]. Michigan is a state that is incredibly rich with diversity. Across the state, immigrants and individuals from communities of color that are often associated with immigrants make up the fabric of our communities—they are our neighbors, our friends and family, teachers, doctors, religious leaders, business owners [7]. Local officials who are tasked with the extra burden of enforcing immigration laws are at an increased risk of targeting these individuals for enforcement erroneously [8].


The bills expose public officials to litigation both from supporters and from individuals who may be harmed by the bill—if officials do not properly interpret the immigration law or use racial profiling methods to target suspected immigration violators, they expose themselves to another form of legal liability. As explained above, the bills create powerful incentives for racial profiling. And, by design, the bills would subject cities and counties to costly litigation from antiimmigrant individuals and groups who do not perceive that their local units of government are engaging in sufficient "communicating and cooperating" with ICE. “Communication and cooperation” is a concept that is not defined in this bill or in federal law, so that litigation would likely be complex and costly.


Some Michigan communities currently lawfully limit communication and cooperation with ICE in their local codes and many Michigan communities have administrative policies put in place by local law enforcement leadership that this bill would seek to outlaw and punish. For example, just this year, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department enacted a new policy of requiring ICE to provide a federal judicial warrant if ICE wanted the county to hold an individual in a county facility for ICE [9]. This policy change came after ICE asked the county to detain a Michigan-born United States citizen and decorated military combat veteran, alleging he was potentially subject to deportation. The policy is completely legal under current state and federal law, because holding individuals for ICE is optional for local governments [10]. Under these bills (HB 4090 specifically) Kent County’s new policy, firmly grounded in its right under federal law to decline detainers and its fresh experience of their unreliability, could be alleged to be unlawful as a limit on “cooperation.” Any resident could sue their local jurisdiction alleging that a wide variety of perfectly legal local resource and community relations decisions relating to immigration fail to rise to the level of “communication and cooperation” that resident believes is required by this bill.


These bills are not, as the names suggest, about prohibiting counties and local governments from harboring certain immigrants and shielding them from immigration enforcement. Harboring is already illegal and regularly prosecuted and local responsibilities are already addressed under federal law [11]. These bills go much further. They seek to take autonomy from local elected officials and co-opt the valuable resources of our local governments for President Trump’s ever expanding “deportation force.” [12]


Note: This statement has been adapted from the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center Legislative Alert: HB 4083 (“Local Government Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Act”) and HB 4090 (“County Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Act”)



[1] See e.g. Lopez-Lopez v. Cty. of Allegan, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116898, *10, 2018 WL 3407695 (explaining that the fact that “cooperation with ICE detainers is discretionary rather than mandatory” is a “well-settled principle”).

[2] See, for example, Nat’l Imm. Law Ctr., Local Law Enforcement Leaders Oppose Mandates to Engage in Immigration Enforcement (August 2013), (dozens of law enforcement leaders criticizing police-ICE entanglement); Dep’t of Justice, The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Guidebook, at 18 (May 2015) (recommending that ICE not issue detainer requests to local jails),; William J. Bratton, The LAPD Fights Crime, Not Illegal Immigration, L.A. Times, Oct. 27, 2009,

[3] Rafaela Rodrigues et al., Promoting Access to Justice for Immigrant and Limited English Proficient Crime Victims, May 3, 2018,; see also Am. Civil Liberties Union, Freezing Out Justice (2018) (summarizing the results),

[4] See, for example, Rob Arthur, Latinos in Three Cities Are Reporting Fewer Crimes Since Trump Took Office,, May 10, 2017,; Cora Engelbrecht, Fewer Immigrants Are Reporting Domestic Abuse. Police Blame Fear of Deportation, N.Y. Times, June 3, 2018,; James Queally, Fearing Deportation, Many Domestic Violence Victims Are Steering Clear of Police and Courts, L.A. Times, Oct. 9, 2017,

[5] See, for example, Marcella Alsan & Crystal S. Yang, Fear and the Safety Net: Evidence from Secure Communities, Harvard Law School, May 2018,; Tom K. Wong, The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy, Ctr. for Am. Progress, Jan. 26, 2017,

[6] Danyelle Solomon, Tom Jawetz, and Sanam Malik, The Negative Consequences of Entangling Local Policing and Immigration Enforcement, for Am. Progress, Mar.21, 2017, gative-consequences-entangling-local-policing-immigration-enforcement.

[7] Fact Sheet: Immigrants in Michigan by County, Michigan League for Public Policy,; see also Julie Mack, Number of Immigrants up in Michigan 11% and 8 other Facts, MLive, October 24, 2016,

[8] Supra, n. 5. “But even without meaning to, any Law Enforcement Agency performing immigration enforcement functions with insufficient oversight, training, and guidance is at a heightened risk of making unlawful stops of individuals who look or sound foreign.”

[9] Barton Deiters, Kent Co. Sheriff Changes ICE Policy After Veteran Detained, Wood TV8, Jan. 18, 2019,

[10] See, Lopez-Lopez v. Cty. of Allegan, infra, n. 1. (Explaining that detainers are “requests” from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the fact that “cooperation with ICE detainers is discretionary rather than mandatory” is a “well-settled principle”).

[11] 8 U.S.C. § 1324 (Bringing in and Harboring Certain Aliens); 8 U.S. C. § 1373(a) (Communication Between Government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service).

[12] Geneva Sands, Trump's 'deportation force' begins to take shape, ABC News, Apr 14, 2017,





Day of Empathy

Join Nation Outside and the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, along with our co-sponsors at Safe and Just Michigan, the Carceral State Project at the University of Michigan, Justice Through Storytelling, and the Detroit Justice Center on March 5th, 2019 for The Day of Empathy.

The Day of Empathy is a national day of action to generate empathy on a massive scale for the millions of Americans behind bars and their loved ones. On March 5, 2019, Americans impacted by the criminal justice system nationwide and their allies will meet with lawmakers to share their stories and experiences. To reform our criminal justice system, we must first humanize and empathize with those who are affected by it.

Without empathy, we cannot achieve meaningful policy changes that keep our communities safe, our families whole, and our economy strong.

The Day of Empathy shines a light on people impacted by the criminal justice system, to uplift their voices and win over hearts and minds towards the idea that transformation is possible.

MDHHS seeks public comment on Mother Infant Health 
and Equity Improvement Plan; deadline is March 11

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is seeking public comment on its Mother Infant Health and Equity Improvement Plan, which will be a focal point of the second annual Maternal Infant Health Summit, March 12-13, at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.


The 2019 Mother Infant Health Equity and Improvement Plan is a comprehensive statewide population health plan. It was developed by MDHHS in collaboration with a broad range of maternal and infant health stakeholders and the guidance of the Maternal Infant Strategy Group. The Improvement Plan’s vision is: Zero preventable deaths. Zero health disparities.


The plan promotes health equity as a priority throughout its initiatives by identifying marginalized populations and addressing persistent health disparities. Its grassroots approach incorporates direct feedback from communities, including mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, faith-based organizations and other community groups.


A critical intervention to help prevent maternal mortality included in the plan is Michigan Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health (MI AIM) safety bundles. Safety bundles help fully equip hospitals with actionable protocols, necessary equipment, staff education and drills to prevent and adequately treat severe maternal events. MI AIM designated hospitals will be recognized at the March Summit for implementing safety bundles at their facilities.


Comments on the plan must be received by 5 p.m. on March 11, and can be submitted to


For more information about the Summit and the Improvement Plan,


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