Press release, 5/31/13:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Effective prioritization of transportation funding, protecting the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds and opposing unfunded federal mandates were among the legislative priorities that Commissioner Kelly Emerson advanced before members of Congress and administration officials during the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Rural Action Caucus (RAC) “fly-in” advocacy effort, April 23-25, in Washington, D.C.
“It’s critical that our federal representatives hear directly from county representatives expressing rural America’s interests,” said Emerson. “With Congress needing to make deep spending cuts, considering higher taxes and fees and imposing new federal regulations, they need to understand how these decisions will affect our county and the communities we serve.”
Each year, NACo’s Rural Action Caucus identifies the most pressing issues facing rural America and brings them to the attention of key administration officials and members of Congress. This year’s priority issues include:
- Relief from unfunded federal mandates, such as expansion of federal regulation under the Clean Water Act, which would burden rural taxpayers and counties with significant costs.
- Opposition to efforts to change the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds which are a well-established financing tool used by state and local governments for infrastructure and capital needs, such as the construction or improvement of schools, roads, highways, hospitals, bridges, water and sewer systems and ports.
- Renewed focus on improving rural health and substance abuse programs with a focus on rural veterans and youth, including efforts to protect Medicaid and supporting the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant.
Commissioner Emerson enjoyed the honor of being nominated by the Honorable Senator Patty Murray to represent the state of Washington at the Senate Democratic Rural Summit put on by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. Other highlights of the RAC fly-in included a meeting with the co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Rural Caucus and dialogue with the White House Rural Council moderated by Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack.
The RAC fly-in is funded almost entirely by NACo via membership dues. NACo provides the room, all meals and $200 towards the cost of the flight.
RAC is a bipartisan coalition of rural elected officials from across the country striving to enhance the quality of life in rural counties through effective federal legislation. Nearly two-thirds of the nation’s 3,069 counties are designated as rural. County leaders from these rural areas are dedicated to solving many critical issues impacting rural life and development, including infrastructure development, broadband deployment, development of new rural clinics and hospitals, road
After the Senate Democratic Rural Summit ended, Commissioner Emerson stated, “I reached out to rural county commissioners from across the state for input to take back with me.
Commissioner Dahlstedt and I visited almost the entire Congressional Delegation on day 1. We explained our priorities and gave local examples. The NACO team had prepared folders for us to leave at each office. It was a very productive day.
Along with the rural summit, there were agencies and department heads to spend time with on day 2. We met with the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and the Director of the Council on Rural Affairs. I found this time extremely useful.
These were the rule makers that can sometimes pervert the intent of a law causing it to become impossible to obey. I don’t mean this to be suggesting they are doing this on purpose”