(Michigan Municipal League, March 26, 2017)
LANSING, MI – The Michigan Municipal League has honored State Rep. Robert Kosowski (D-Westland) and Sen. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy) as the League’s 2017 Legislators of the Year. The awards were formally presented to Rep. Kosowski and Sen. Knollenberg during the League’s annual Capital Conference Awards Gala March 21 in Lansing.
Rep. Kosowski represents Michigan’s 16th House District, which comprises a portion of the city of Westland and the entire city of Wayne. Sen. Knollenberg represents the state’s 13th Senate District, representing the cities of Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Clawson, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, and Troy.
“These two legislators understand the important role Michigan’s cities play in driving the state’s economy,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “They do an outstanding job fighting for their local communities, as well as communities throughout Michigan.”
Rep. Kosowski is serving his third term in the House, and before serving in the Legislature he worked as the city of Westland Parks and Recreation director. He worked for the city for 20 years. He was also a member of many advisory boards. Kosowski studied business management at Adrian College and Wayne State University. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two sons: Andrew and Austin. The family has resided in Westland for nearly 20 years.
“During his time in the state House, Representative Kosowski has distinguished himself as a thoughtful policy maker and earned the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Rowe said. “Representative Kosowski has proven time and again that he values good policy over partisanship. His door is always open to the League and his constituents. The League looks forward to working in partnership with him through the remainder of his time in Lansing.”
In particular, Rep. Kosowski has been an outspoken, supportive voice on numerous issues that have been critical to the Michigan Municipal League and its member communities, including his leadership in attempting to restore cuts to revenue sharing, protecting Tax Increment Financing as an economic development tool, and supporting government immunity in the event of sewer backups during extreme rainfall, Rowe said.
Knollenberg was elected to the Senate in 2014 after previously serving as a Representative in the state House from 2007-2012. As a member of the Senate, he serves as chairman of the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee and on the Transportation and Corrections Appropriations subcommittees. He is also vice-chairman of the Education Committee and a member of the Finance and Regulatory Reform committees. He has been an activist and leader in Oakland County for decades volunteering with area organizations including the Kiwanis Club of Troy, the Deaf Community Action Network Board, the Troy Community Coalition and the Troy Prayer Breakfast Committee.
Senator Knollenberg was presented his award by former League President Robin Beltramini, past member of the Troy City Council.
“Senator Knollenberg sits on the Senate Finance Committee and has always been open to addressing the Michigan Municipal League’s questions or concerns,” Beltramini said. “His dogged pursuit of legislation that protected communities in his district and elsewhere by eliminating the majority of the local cost share requirement for MDOT projects was signed by the governor in December. We thank him for all of his work on behalf of cities and villages across Michigan.”
Beltramini explained that the local MDOT match was crippling cities like Troy and Madison Heights, and although the governor vetoed his original bill, Sen. Knollenberg secured a compromise that reduced local liability on these state projects by nearly 95 percent. After hearing the League’s concerns, he abstained from voting in committee on a bill which would have created a property tax exemption loophole by vastly expanding the exemptions for nonprofits and attempted to address those concerns by proposing amendments in discussion with the League.
He also is actively working with the City of Rochester Hills and the League to promote amendments to the new personal property tax system that would provide greater ability to seek reimbursement for losses, Beltramini said. Knollenberg has been an Oakland County resident for his entire life. He attended Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills public schools, and currently lives in Troy with his wife Lori and two step-daughters, Lindsey and Lorrin. He is a graduate of Albion College and has been a small business owner for 27 years.
About the Legislator of the Year Award: The honor is presented each year to lawmakers for their instrumental actions in the Michigan State Legislature on behalf of local communities. These individuals are recognized for their efforts in the passage of legislation that will benefit local governments or who have fought consistently to support local government.
Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.