By Kathy Ackerman, IAC Immediate Past President
Idaho had several representatives at the recent National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference held in Washington, D.C., February 11-15. As with Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) conferences, attending a national conference allows attendees to network and learn about important issues and potential solutions that are relevant in our home counties.
The conference had a number of workshops to highlight services provided by NACo and to assist in navigating federal rules and programs. Two big ‘pots of money’ coming to counties pertain to ARPA funding and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. We heard from department heads from the Biden Administration who seem to understand the critical role counties play in the day-to-day lives of our citizens and were on-hand to offer support and guidance. President Biden also addressed our group, providing thoughts about the need for strong leadership at the county level and expressing thanks for what we do. Two years ago, we similarly heard from President Trump. The ability for NACo to facilitate these appearances speaks to the level of respect those in Washington have for this organization.
Like IAC, NACo has several policy-making committees and advisory committees. During the conference, both official and non-official members of committees attend meetings and discuss issues relevant to the focus of that committee. I am a member of the Finance, Pension and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, where we discussed election laws and ARPA funding among other things. I also attended the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and learned about programs to assist county Veterans Services Officers. Additionally, as a member of the NACo Board of Directors, I also attended the board meeting and forum held during the conference.
Members of our Idaho delegation also met in person with Senators Crapo and Risch to hear about issues they are considering and to present our areas of concern. Workforce housing, PILT and SRS funding were issues that we brought to the discussion table with both Senators. While no immediate solutions are in the works, the opportunity to connect with those elected to represent us and to discuss issues that are important to counties was beneficial for all.
To learn more about NACo, visit their website.