A virtual legislative delegation town hall was held Aug. 24 at the Macomb County Board of Commissioners meeting. Elected officials discussed what they have been working on and more.

A virtual legislative delegation town hall was held Aug. 24 at the Macomb County Board of Commissioners meeting. Elected officials discussed what they have been working on and more.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Macomb County Legislative Delegation holds town hall

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published September 2, 2020


MACOMB COUNTY — It’s held once a year and gives those in public office a chance to highlight what they’ve been working on.

At the Aug. 24 Macomb County Board of Commissioners meeting, a virtual Macomb County Legislative Delegation town hall took place.

Each elected official, or a designated representative, was asked to discuss what they have been working on and to provide information relevant to mutual constituencies.

As one might suspect, the topic of COVID-19 was front and center.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow opened the town hall, centering her comments on the virus.

“We’re all very focused on how we get our arms around this virus,” she said. “We need to balance keeping people safe but making sure that people have the opportunity to reach out to their loved ones.”

She said the CARES Act, passed in March, went a long way to help small businesses and folks who lost their jobs because of COVID-19.

Stabenow added that she wants the U.S. Senate to pass another package for students and teachers, and another round of support for small businesses and farmers.

Elise Lancaster, from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters’ office, said a big priority of his is what is happening with the U.S. Postal Service.

“Last week, he secured a hearing so the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee could question the postmaster general on some of the recent postal changes,” Lancaster said. “We’ve heard from thousands of people in Michigan on how they’ve been struggling as a result of mail deliveries.”

She said since Macomb County has a large manufacturing sector, Peters has introduced legislation that would create a national institute of manufacturing.

U.S. Congressman Andy Levin said he’s heard from municipalities on how COVID-19 hit their budgets and the struggles projected going forward.

He said the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES Act, would provide $827 million in relief in 2020 and $163 million in 2021.

“Clinton Township would receive $43.8 million over the two years, and Center Line would receive $4 million,” he said. “From biggest to smallest, all would benefit.”

The act is proposed legislation acting as a $3 trillion stimulus package in response to the pandemic.

State Sen. Peter Lucido, of Shelby Township, said folks have to live with the dilemmas of closing businesses due to coronavirus.

“It causes budgets to seize up, and I know it’s going to be a challenging and dynamic problem when it comes to the budget,” he said.

State Sen. Paul Wojno, of Warren, said he’s spoken with Macomb County schools officials, and they indicated that about 50% of county school districts are beginning the school year with in-person instruction.

“Educators do not feel it may be safe to return to the classroom, and I think after Labor Day, we’ll see additional school closings based on COVID-19,” he said.

State Rep. Nate Shannon, of Sterling Heights, said the issues of unemployment and back to school have been a large focus of his.

“With unemployment, we’ve dealt with hundreds and hundreds of people who haven’t received their unemployment,” he said. “We have resolved over 400, and there are around 200 who are waiting to get some sort of relief.”  

State Rep. Bill Sowerby, of Clinton Township, said with solid waste planning, there is a series of six bills in the state legislature that would change what the solid waste planning process looks like for counties.

“It’s a re-write to better address recycling and has a goal of reaching 30% recycling by 2025, with an ultimate goal of having 45% recycling,” he said.   

State Rep. Jeff Yaroch, who represents parts of Macomb Township, said he’s introduced a bill that would require the state of Michigan to have its own stockpile of personal protective equipment.