California County Officials Attend NACo’s Annual Conference
El Paso County (CO) Commissioner Sallie Clark Elected as NACo Second Vice President
The National Association of Counties (NACo) held its 78th Annual Conference and Exposition July 19-22 in Tarrant County, (Fort Worth) Texas. County officials from across the state of California attended this year’s event, including leaders from CSAC.
This year’s conference featured several prominent speakers, including Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Among other topics, Secretary Sebelius discussed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the important role that counties play in the ongoing implementation of the law. Sebelius urged counties to continue to work closely with various key stakeholders in anticipation of this fall’s launch of online health insurance exchanges.
On a related matter, the conference included a panel discussion on the future of health care in America. Serving on the panel were former HHS Secretary and Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, and several other health care experts.
County officials also had the opportunity to attend various workshops, educational forums, and steering committee meetings throughout the four-day event. California is well represented on NACo’s 11 steering committees, which are the policy-making bodies responsible for developing individual policy resolutions and platform language.
It should be noted that two CSAC-sponsored resolutions were approved during the annual meeting. The first expresses NACo’s support for the Levee Vegetation Review Act (HR 399) and Section 2020 of the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) reauthorization measure (S 601). Both pieces of legislation would require the secretary of the Army to conduct a comprehensive review of the Corps’ levee vegetation removal policy. Notably, the resolution was an update of an earlier CSAC resolution, which was endorsed by NACo during the Annual Legislative Conference in March.
The second resolution, which was cosponsored by Orange County, urges the federal government to improve the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) section 404 permit process. Specifically, the resolution calls for removing routine maintenance activities of manmade public flood protection facilities from the section 404 permitting process when no endangered species habitat is present. It also urges that the CWA’s general permit term for routine maintenance activities be extended from five to ten years.
In a related development, platform language sponsored by Sonoma County on the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program was also approved during the conference. The language expresses NACo’s support for funding of PACE programs and calls for treating the program as a traditional tax assessment with priority lien status.
Approval of the aforementioned resolutions and platform language provides NACo with the authority to actively advocate for the policies expressed therein.
In other news, conference delegates elected El Paso County (Colorado) Commissioner Sallie Clark to serve as NACo’s second vice president in 2013-2014. Clark, who has served in various leadership positions within NACo, including the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, the Large Urban County Caucus, the Arts and Culture Commission, and the Membership Committee, is slated to take the helm of the presidency beginning in July of 2015. California delegates voted to endorse Clark during the state’s caucus.
With regard to the balance of NACo’s leadership team, Linn County, Iowa Supervisor Linda Langston was sworn in as president of NACo, with Maui County, Hawaii Council Member Riki Hokama taking over as first vice president. Chris Rodgers, commissioner, Douglas County, Nebraska, will serve as immediate past president.
Finally, CSAC’s Washington representative, Waterman & Associates, provided California county officials with a federal legislative update during the state’s caucus meeting. In addition to a report on several big-ticket items moving through Congress, including immigration reform and WRDA reauthorization, attendees received an update on the fiscal year 2014 budget and appropriations process.