By Kathy Ackerman, Idaho County Clerk
The National Association of Counties (NACo) held their 2023 Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton in DC from February 11-14. As your NACo Board Representative, here are a few key takeaways from this year’s conference:
Idaho was well-represented at the conference by Seth Grigg, IAC Executive Director; Commissioners Tom Lamar (Latah County), Skip Brandt (Idaho County), Rod Beck (Ada County), Sherry Maupin (Valley County), and Jeff Hough (Bannock County); Blaine County Treasurer and IAC 1st Vice President John David Davidson; Clearwater County Sheriff and IAC Immediate Past President Chris Goetz; Latah County IT Director Laurel Caldwell; and me, Kathy Ackerman, Idaho County Clerk and NACo Board Rep. Idaho, though few in number, had diverse representation.
NACo has a number of policy committees that are similar in structure to IAC. Rod Beck and I participate on the Finance, Pensions and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, Jeff Hough is on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, and Skip Brandt is on the Public Lands Committee. Tom Lamar is a member of the Rural Action Caucus, a meeting that several of us attended which provided updates on transportation funding and opioid settlement funding. Like IAC policy committees, resolutions are considered and forwarded on to the entire NACo body at the Annual Conference in July if approved by the committee.
Interim resolutions are considered by the NACo Board of Directors ahead of the Annual Conference. Some of the interim resolutions brought before the NACo Board included a resolution to prevent recoupment of previously awarded ARPA State and Local Recovery Funds; a reform of the windfall elimination provision WEP in Social Security; legislation that would allow COVID relief dollars to be used to combat the fentanyl crisis; and a call for the federal government to establish a program to expedite the salvage of burned timber. There was a total of 29 interim resolutions considered and just one of those was held indefinitely.
Our General Sessions included updates from top federal agencies, as well as an appearance by President Joe Biden on Tuesday.
Idaho Senators Crapo and Risch met with members of our group to discuss issues and concerns. We also met with staff members from Congressman Fulcher and Congressman Simpson’s offices. Whether we were personally bringing forward an issue or simply listening, being there in person to meet with those elected to represent Idaho in Washington, D.C., solidifies the message that we care about what is happening in the Capitol and are ready to engage to protect county interests for our constituents. Officials we met with all conveyed gratitude for our participation and displayed genuine interest and concern when we discussed topics impacting Idaho counties.
The full, busy week afforded a few opportunities to experience the history, culture, music, and fabulous food that we don’t have access to in Idaho. We had several group dinners together where we got to enjoy Thai, French, Brazilian, and Korean cuisines, ventured out to listen to some local blues, and checked a few boxes on our lists of things to see. The conference overall and opportunities for cultural enrichment were a great experience!
To learn more about NACo, visit their website.