Promoting county interests, advocating good public policy
and providing education to Idaho's county officials

2017 NACo Annual Conference Report from WIR Representative

Brenda Richards, Owyhee County Treasurer
IAC’s WIR Representative

Idaho delegates meet for dinner

The NACO Conference started Thursday, July 20th with many of the Idaho attendees getting together to visit over dinner.

Friday, July 21st

Resolutions and Subcommittee meetings started.  I attended the Public Lands Steering Committee Subcommittee meeting, chaired by Gila County Arizona Supervisor, Tommie Cline Martin.  The meeting was called to order and the following presentations were made.

Mr. Steve Tyron, Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning, Bureau of Land Management    A key point Mr. Tyron brought forward in his presentation was the use of Categorical Exclusions in order to facilitate getting things done in a timely manner.  He also stated the BLM would be focusing on making sure local officials knew what Categorical Exclusions are available for them to use in making decisions.

Mr. Randy Phillips. US Forest Service   Mr. Phillips gave an update on where this administration is heading with their land management strategies and updated on their local efforts being made to assure these strategies are a top priority.

Both Mr. Tyron and Mr. Phillips took questions.  Randy gave us an update on Secure Rural School funding and also on the 2018 budgetary issues for Forest Service.

Cynthia Moses-Nedd, US Department of the Interior  Cynthia serves as the liaison for the Department of Interior to Western Interstate Region and for NACO.  Cynthia presented us with the most recent update on PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) on the appropriations bill and budget items – what the 2018 amounts were and where any decreases of increases were made. Talked about the Land and Water Conservation Fund and answered questions.  There was discussion on how PILT counties would be affected if Secure Rural School funding is not authorized.

Gila County Arizona Supervisor, Tommie Cline Martin then hosted a round table discussion with committee members on county land use plans and their necessity; greater coordination between counties in interacting with the federal government agencies; and what future discussions/tasks should be of this committee.  This discussion was extremely helpful and notes were being taken.  Participation and interest was great enough that lunch was brought in and the discussion continued until it was time for the business portion of the committee meeting to start.  Supervisor Cline Martin committed to following up with notes of the discussion and action items.

Friday afternoon I attended the Public Lands Steering Committee Business Meeting.  Here the meeting was called to order; Pledge of Allegiance; introductions.  Jonathan Shuffield, NACO Associate Legislative Director, then gave a brief explanation of the NACo Policy Process. We then went it to the final review and discussion of the Policy Resolutions for this committee, which included the ones sent out 30 days prior to the NACo Conference, and one emergency resolution. (The resolutions passed can be found on the NACo website.)

Next, the committee addressed the proposed platform changes. (those passed can also be viewed on the NACo website)

Next Jonathan gave us a legislative update.

Larry Schoen, Blaine County Commissioner

Discussion continued on the county land use plans; greater coordination; and interacting with federal agencies.

Any power point presentations from committee meeting will also be available on NACo website.

Saturday, July 22nd

Attended the Western Interstate Region Board Meeting as your Idaho Association of Counties Board member.  Here we had a legislative update by Jonathan Shuffield, NACo; Financial update by Alicia Dorsey, CPA, Finance Director for NACo; Future WIR meeting date of October 9-11, 2017, in Pinedale, Wyoming; PILT Fly-In update for the September scheduled fly-in; Blaine County Commissioner, Larry Schoen, gave an invitation and preview of the 2018 WIR Conference facility in Sun Valley, Idaho, to be held May 23-25, 2018.

Mr. Ted Boling, Associate Director for NEPA, White House Council on Environmental Quality gave a presentation and answered questions.

Mr. Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director, Western Governors Association Fresh back from the last meeting of WGA held in Whitefish, Montana, an update was given along with the past Chair Initiatives and the new Chair Initiative being rolled out.

Mr. Lon Yeary, Deputy Director, Forest Products Lab, US Forest Service gave a very interesting presentation on the lab and how they are looking to use all types of forest products and make new construction products and enter new marketing areas with these products with their research and development teams.

Mr. Brian Fontes, CEO, National Emergency Number Association gave an enlightening talk on the 911 system and cybersecurity threats and emergency response systems.  His discussion included what counties can do to prevent hacking of these systems.

Mr., Brian Hyer, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, and Mr. Tim Quinn, Acting Chief of Staff, Office of the Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection gave a brief presentation on policies related to immigration and immigration enforcement; how they are carried out; and how these have direct effects on the counties.

I then attended the NACo General Session where we heard from Secretary of Agriculture, The Honorable Sonny Perdue; Piper Kerman, the author of Orange Is the New Black talking about her time in prison and some of the issues and challenges; Todd May, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in a joint panel with Dr. Marla Perez-Davis, Deputy Director, NASA’s John H. Glen Research Center.

Sunday, July 23rd

There was joint breakfast held with Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nevada.  There was also a non-denomination worship service held by NACo.

NACo Executive Committee Regional Representatives

The rest of the day allowed us to attend several of the many worthwhile workshops that were offered.  I was able to attend:

Cash Management & Investing Policies – What Elected Officials Need to Know

Leadership Strategies for Women in Government: How to Thrive in Your Career by Ellie Nieves, JD, MBA

Smarter Counties

How Census 2020 & County Data Matters to Your Bottom Line

Monday, July 24th

Our day started with the NACo Annual Business Meeting for voting on the resolutions brought forward from the various committees and then elections.

The General Session then followed with outstanding speaking events from two Idahoans!

Ed Viesturs is a mountain climber and author of the book, No Shortcuts to The Top, and gave an inspirational and motivational talk on the challenges he has faced with mountain climbing but how they relate to daily life and also county challenges.

Ed Viesturs – Keynote Speaker at NACo Annual

We then were lucky enough to have former Idahoan (he graduated from Minidoka High School!) Lou Dobbs give us an enlightening and entertaining view on where the United States is today in terms of global matters, the new administration, and the economy.

The NACo Conference concluded with a fun and lively Conference-wide celebration event Monday evening with great food, great people, and live entertainment.

I consider it an honor and privilege to be able to represent Idaho and IAC at this conference and appreciate you elected me to do so.

NACo announced to us that the many of the presentations and speakers will be available on the website.

Respectfully Submitted,

Brenda Richards, IAC Representative to

Western Interstate Region Board