NACoLogoR_colorTax reform, protecting Medicaid and immigration reform are just three of several 2015 legislative priorities for the National Association of Counties.

As NACo recently reported, “The 2015 legislative priorities are tax reform, protecting the federal-state-local partnership for Medicaid, transportation reauthorization, approval of the Marketplace Fairness Act, funding for Payment In Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools, rejection of the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ proposal rule and immigration reform that addresses issues impacting county government.”

MAC members may recall coverage of the “Waters of the U.S.” issue in the October 2014 edition of Michigan Counties (see page 6).

DSC_0139.jpgWhile 2014 has been an outstanding year for MAC legislative initiatives (full revenue sharing funding, Cunningham court funding crisis averted), there always are debates that don’t play out so well. Which, of course, means a redoubling of our efforts in the coming legislative term.

This week, legislation to extend county authority to merge road commissions (House Bills 5117-18) was put on the shelf, meaning that the authority will expire on Dec. 31. We are disappointed in this result, but will look to address the issue again in the new legislative term.

Legislation altering the rules on tax increment financing, or “tax capture,” districts also stalled this fall.

We have been working throughout this legislative session on revisions to the TIF law, principally to ensure that counties always have the option on whether to have millage dollars captured by TIF districts, the length of time of that capture and the ability to partner with the authorities by having a seat at the table. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-Oakland), however, eventually was written in such a way that no real reform would result.

We expect to have new legislation filed early next year to incorporate the provisions for county authority and more reforms.

As always, the best way to stay on top of county issues at the Capitol is by being a subscriber to MAC’s weekly Legislative Update. If you are not receiving the updates, send a request and your email address to

The Presque Isle power plant is at the center of a regulatory dispute that could impose huge new energy costs on Upper Peninsula residents.

The Presque Isle power plant is at the center of a regulatory dispute that could impose huge new energy costs on Upper Peninsula residents.

Some hopeful news for the holidays for Upper Peninsula residents:

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered hearing and settlement procedures on MISO’s proposed cost allocation for the Presque Isle Power Plant, which would cause steep rate increases for residents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

No hearing date has been set yet.






When it comes to decision-making, Republican Dave Maturen says he tries to start with an open mind. It’s a skill he’s honed over the four decades he’s spent working as a property appraiser in Michigan.

The 66-year-old from Brady Twp. likes data. He’s studied the impact wind turbines have on property values. He’s examined roadway expansions and navigation easements. He’s appraised houses, farmland and commercial buildings.

“You walk in, hopefully, with objectivity and an open mind,” as Maturen explains, “and you start gathering data.”

Maturen will bring his appraiser’s approach to the House starting next year as he becomes the next representative for the 63rd District, which includes portions of both Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.

Term-limited House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) currently holds the 63rd District seat.

Maturen won a competitive primary against Vic Potter, of Marshall, over the summer to get the GOP nomination. Then, he easily defeated Democrat Bill Farmer, of Scotts, in the general election.

Currently, Maturen is the chair of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners. He’s served on that board for nearly 12 years.

He gave up more terms on the county commission to take a shot at the House this year.

“After 12 years, it was probably time to move on,” he said. “It would have been easy to stay, but you don’t always want to do the easy thing.”

Before joining the county commission, he was a Brady Twp. trustee for 14 years. He ran for the county commission after redistricting added seats to the board.

And as he noted, term limits gave him the chance to run for the House.

When doors open, as he put it, you have to take advantage.

“I don’t know if you want to call it serendipity,” Maturen said.

In addition to his public service, he’s worked about 40 years in the appraisal field.

Early on in his career, he worked for the state of Michigan in the Treasury Department’s property tax division.

After 14 years in state government, Maturen decided to take a different path and start his own business.

Maturen & Associates focuses on projects involving right-of-ways. The company works on easements and helping entities that need to get “from here to there,” as he put it.

That can mean working on pipelines, roadways and airports.

And he said he realizes that his career experience could lend itself to working on tax policy in the Legislature.

One of the priorities he listed was working to make sure the state has a good tax climate that helps business succeed.

Maturen, who has a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan, also mentioned roads and the fact that his district is heavy on agriculture.

On top of those, he also lives on Indian Lake and is interested in environmental matters, like invasive species.



As it turns out, he won’t be the only Kalamazoo County commissioner joining the House this year. Fellow-commissioner Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo, won the 61st District seat.

Two others from the commission — Republican Phil Stinchomb, of Portage, and Dave Buskirk, of Kalamazoo — ran for the House but lost.

Being a public servant runs in Maturen’s family.

His father, Clarence, was an elected official in Essexville and he served on Bay County’s board for 17 years.

So politics was often discussed at the Maturen dinner table. Maturen also remembered the long hours his dad put in at city hall.

“It’s kind of been a family trade,” he said.

Maturen’s hobbies include playing tennis. He and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 43 years.

His appraising profession keeps him busy with traveling. And he’s made many trips into and out of city halls, township buildings and county buildings as part of his work.

“I put a lot of miles on the car,” Maturen said. “I’m used to driving a lot, so driving back and forth from Lansing won’t be that big of a deal.”

Reprinted with permission from MIRS News Service in Lansing.

parties image(Updated 12-19-14): In addition to retaining statewide elective offices and majorities in the Michigan Legislature, the Republican Party gained a small number of seats in the ranks of county commissioners, a MAC review of election results finds.

Based on unofficial election results, the Republicans now hold 396 of the 622 seats, a gain of 3 seats. Democrats hold 217 seats, a drop of 5, and candidates labeled as unaffiliated hold 9 seats, a gain of 2.

Republicans also hold a wide margin in control of county boards of commissioners:

  • 59 boards have GOP majorities
  • 23 boards have Democratic majorities
  • 1 board is tied (Alpena Co.)

Partisan control shifted in five counties due to election results: Clare (D to R); Kalamazoo (R to D); Manistee (D to R); Monroe (D to R); and Schoolcraft (D to R).

Of the 622 commissioners in 2015, 136 will be new to the office, MAC found. This turnover rate of 22 percent is consistent with historical results.

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