OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – The Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) is currently holding its annual conference at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in the Lake of the Ozarks to discuss ways to empower local governments. The conference began Sunday evening and will stretch into Tuesday morning as county officials from across the state learned and networked about ways to manage growing county budgets, handle the bond market and address other challenges currently facing county governments.
MAC Executive Director Dick Burke said in a statement that it was important for the association of counties to bring people together, especially in the months leading up to a change of power.
“As our state and nation embark on paths of new leadership, it is vitally important that MAC’s membership stand ready to serve as partners in developing strong and effective public policy,” he said. “Our annual meeting serves as the forum for those discussions.”
One of the keynote speakers Monday morning expanded on that message. Emilia Istrate, the director of outreach for the National Association of Counties, said that with a new president in the White House and a new governor in Missouri’s Governor’s Mansion, that meant county governments would feel the impact directly with unfunded mandates and unnecessary rules that can tie a county’s hands.
“It’s like passing the buck,” she said, referencing the famous Harry S. Truman quote. “The feds are passing it to the state and the states are passing it to the counties.”
Istrate went on to outline ways in which MAC members could work with her organization, which lobbies in Washington, to ensure that county governments did not feel the sting of any unreasonable regulations that may occur under the new administration.
Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court Patricia Breckenridge also spoke Monday to give convention-goers a primer on the role of Missouri’s judicial system and former SR-71 Blackbird pilot Brian Shul kicked off the ceremony talking about his trials in the Air Force.
MAC is expected to vote on a number of resolutions; including opposition to the legalization of medicinal or recreational marijuana or cannabis, support for upgrading statewide 911 wireless emergency services, the full funding of state mandates on county governments, and an appeal to stop state encroachment on local control. The resolution to oppose the legalization of cannabis failed.