NACo's Rural Action Caucus is a key component of NACo. RAC is the voice for America's rural counties before Congress and the Administration. Nearly two-thirds of the nation's 3,069 counties are designated as rural, with a combined population of 60 million.
County elected officials from these rural areas are dedicated to solving many critical issues impacting rural life and development. These include infrastructure development, broadband deployment, development of new rural clinics and hospitals, road and bridge construction and maintenance, business development opportunities and many more county responsibilities.
Since 1997, NACo's Rural Action Caucus has addressed critical federal, state and local issues.
To join NACo's Rural Action Caucus, contact Arthur Scott, RAC staff liaison. Individual county officials or staff from NACo member counties are eligible to join. RAC members receive periodic updates on key issues affecting rural counties.
2014 RAC Legislative Priorities
Authorization of long-term Farm Bill with a focus on Rural Development
RAC works with NACo’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Steering Committee to raise the profile of NACo’s Farm Bill priorities, which included support for renewable energy, beginning and young farmers and flexibly funded rural development programs that encourage regional innovation. RAC also focused on protecting appropriations for USDA Rural Development programs that benefit rural counties and their citizens.Secure funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Forest Payments to Counties (Secure Rural Schools Program)
The Payment in Lieu of Taxes program (PILT) is currently unfunded for years FY 2015 and beyond. Additionally, the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) provides significant financial uncertainty for many county governments. RAC will work with NACo’s Public Lands Steering Committee and Western Interstate Region to support long-term, mandatory funding for PILT and future timber revenue sharing payments to counties.
Oppose Efforts to Eliminate or Limit the Tax-Exempt Status of Municipal Bonds
Tax-exempt bonds were written in the first tax code in 1913 and are a well-established financing tool that is predominately issued by state and local governments for governmental infrastructure and capital needs purposes. RAC will work to protect this financing tool that is critical to rural public projects such as the construction or improvement of schools, streets, highways, hospitals, bridges, water and sewer systems, ports and other public works.
Renewed focus on improving Rural Health and Substance Abuse programs with a focus on rural veterans and youth
RAC will work with NACo’s Health Steering Committee to protect Medicaid which is critical to the rural health care system. Substance abuse issues, especially among our youth and returning rural veterans are a major concern of rural counties and their impacts on rural health will be highlighted. RAC will focus on supporting the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant which is critical to state and local efforts in this issue area.
Promote Rural County Priorities within Immigration Reform
NACo members urge policymakers to consider the financial impact of immigration on county governments. Counties are required by law to provide health, public safety and education services for these populations. We support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a modernized legal immigration system, establishes a temporary worker program, provides an earned path to citizenship and enhances border security.
Reauthorization of the Current Surface Transportation Law (MAP-21)
Counties own and maintain more than 1.8 million miles (or 44 percent) of America’s public road miles and over 45 percent of America’s bridges. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21) reauthorization should provide long-term certainty and focus on environmental/project streamlining.