Thursday, December 31, 2020

Lobbyist reports state actions to board of trustees

Julie Brown, Special Writer

In a year-end wrap-up to members of the Canton Township Board of Trustees, Stephanie Johnson of lobbying firm Khoury Johnson Leavitt, noted, “It was quite an eventful lame duck” session in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.

Speaking Dec. 22 to officials, Johnson noted some $900 billion was OK'd in federal aid, which will help the unemployed. She said Michigan legislators OK'd some $465 million in relief related to COVID-19, including extending unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks.

Michigan also has a hazard pay provision for first responders, as well as some school aid, she said.

Canton Director of Police Services Chad Baugh asked about racketeering, noting issues with internal theft at businesses. “That helps shift the burden of investigating these cases,” he said upon learning the state has additional personnel for that purpose.

Johnson noted there has been no supplemental revenue to local governments for COVID-19, and that a mid-January meeting will determine much on state-shared revenue.

“Our caseloads have been coming down every day,” she added of numbers of ill people.

Canton Trustee Sommer Foster asked about eviction diversion and use of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) government food benefits at restaurants. Foster also asked about criminal justice reforms from Lansing.

Trustee Kate Borninski asked if Epenephrin can now be administered by first responders, including firefighters.

Johnson asked if her presentations to the board could become more frequent as she'd had a few “curveball” questions directed at her on Dec. 22. She outlined briefly a poverty prevention bill signed into law in late December by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

She said criminal justice measures in Lansing increased.

“That's the one thing they did the most of. It really was remarkable. It got the support it needed and it moved,” Johnson said.

In other business, trustees approved 7-0 a contract with the Khoury Johnson Leavitt, LLC firm for lobbying for the next two years at $36,000 a year.

Greg Hohenberger, township director of the Leisure Services department, noted it will probably be March when a decision will be made on having the traditional Liberty Fest in June.

“We'll be looking at where we are on the vaccine,” he said.

Liberty Fest was cancelled in 2020 due to health restrictions. posed by the pandemic.