The Michigan Townships Association (MTA) recognized Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland Chtr. Twp.) and Rep. Gary Howell (R-North Branch) for their support of township government by presenting them with the MTA “Legislator of the Year” awards. Both Stamas and Howell received the prestigious award, which honors lawmakers who are instrumental in legislation impacting township government and who work diligently on townships’ behalf, today at the MTA Board of Directors meeting in Portage.
“Sen. Stamas and Rep. Gary Howell consistently put good public policy before partisan politics,” MTA Executive Director Larry Merrill said. “Both have gone above and beyond to not only listen to township input, but also taking what they’ve heard and using it to shape legislation. Their work was instrumental in the passage of key bills, from assessing reform to including township voices in the purchase of state land.”
Now in his final Senate term, Stamas is a former member of the Midland Charter Township (Midland Co.) Board of Trustees as well as the Midland County Board of Commissioners. He served three terms in the state House of Representative before he was elected to the Senate, where he currently serves as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Throughout his years in the Legislature, Stamas has played a crucial role in passing legislation impacting townships. Last year, he led the charge to reform Michigan’s assessing system, holding multiple meetings with local officials around the state, listening to their concerns and working with MTA to craft a bill that won MTA’s support. He also provided the momentum needed in the lame duck session to pass the extension and long-sought-after expansion of the pension bonding tool for local units.
“As a former township trustee who now represents 110 townships in the Senate, it’s an honor to be recognized for supporting the important role our townships play in the daily lives of millions of Michigan families,” Stamas said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Michigan Townships Association and all their members to improve our local communities and the entire state for families, workers and job creators.”
Howell, a second-term representative, has a rich history in township government, including 40 years as a township, city and village attorney and five years as a Flint Charter Township (Genesee Co.) trustee and planning commissioner. He can always be counted upon to bring the local government perspective to legislative discussions, and he’s ready and willing to work to advance the best legislation possible for township government. Since coming to Lansing, he has diligently worked with MTA and other local government organizations to support local control and provide alternatives to local preemption.
Thanks to Howell’s tireless efforts, the Legislature reached a resolution to the long-standing state land cap issue. Throughout the process, he worked to ensure that townships have a voice when state land is purchased in their jurisdictions.
“It is a high honor to be named legislator of the year by the Michigan Townships Association,” Howell said. “Having been involved in township government my entire adult life and having worked closely with this vital organization, I realize how extremely important it is to have representation in Lansing to safeguard local citizen control. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the MTA on future legislative issues. I truly hope that local government officials realize the effective work that this organization performs day by day on their behalf.”