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Washington Watch Blog
NACo to Host Webinar on BLM Planning 2.0 Initiative New

​ The National Association of Counties (NACo) invites you to join a webinar on

Bureau of Land Management’s

Planning 2.0 Initiative

Thursday, November 13 at 2:00PM EDT

Register Now!

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are pleased to announce an upcoming webinar for local officials to learn about and provide input into the BLM Planning 2.0 initiative. Through this initiative, BLM hopes to improve the land use planning process so that they can more effectively plan across landscapes and at multiple scales, and be more responsive to environmental and social change.

As BLM continues to develop and update its resource management plans, input from local and state officials is a key part of its collaborative planning effort. During this session, BLM will provide an overview of its Planning 2.0 initiative as well as facilitate a group discussion on methods to improve the BLM’s planning process. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how you can provide input to this process.  

Special Guest Speakers: 
  • Moderator: Commissioner John Martin, Garfield County, Colo. 
  • Shasta ...
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17 hours ago | 0

NACo Alert: Comment Period for Waters of the U.S. Extended

Action Needed

Comment Period for Proposed "Waters of the U.S." Rule Extended until November 14

Counties are encouraged to submit comments ​

On April 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly released a new proposed rule – Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act – that would amend the definition of "Waters of the U.S." and expand the range of waters that fall under federal jurisdiction. The comment period deadline for the proposed rule has now been extended from October 20, 2014 until November 14, 2014 to allow the public to comment on a soon-to-be released document which provides the scientific basis for the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule. 

The document—Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters:A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence—has been under review by EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) but has not been finalized.  The agencies have been under fire for releasing the proposed rule without including the connectivity report, which provides their scientific basis for the proposed rule change. So while the agencies did extend the comment period into November, it...

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3 weeks ago | 0

​NACo’s Leadership Fly-In brings Association’s Strategy into Focus

On September 10-12, NACo’s 2014 Leadership Strategic Planning Fly-In brought the chairs of NACo’s policy steering committees to Washington D.C. to discuss the association’s strategic vision and priorities. Also joining the Fly-In were the chairs of NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) and Rural Action Caucus (RAC), the President of the Western Interstate Region (WIR), and NACo’s executive officers and staff.

NACo President Riki Hokama, Council Member, Maui County, Hawaii, led participants in roundtable discussions on topics including “strategies for achieving legislative and policy goals” and “growth and engagement of steering committees and caucuses.” President Hokama also shared his vision for the remainder of his term as president, focusing on transportation and infrastructure – his presidential initiative.

Participants in the Fly-In also took to Capitol Hill and the agencies to promote the interests of county governments across America, including the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and transportation reauthorization. Meetings were held with members of Congress, key committee staff, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of State and Local Finance and the U.S. Department of Healt...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​House Set to Vote on CR to Extend FY 2014 Funding Levels until December

On September 9, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) unveiled a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the federal government at FY 2014 levels through December 11, 2014. The CR would prevent a repeat of last year’s government shutdown, which would otherwise occur at the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1, since Congress has not passed any FY 2015 bills. The House has delayed a vote on the CR to further consider adding language related to U.S military action against terrorist groups abroad, but a vote now seems to be set for Wednesday, September 17.

While the CR is mostly “clean,” it would include some additional provisions including an extension of the Export-Import Bank authorization through June 2015, funding to help fight the Ebola crisis in Africa and an extension of the moratorium on state and local government taxing of internet sales (Internet Tax Freedom Act). The CR would also extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant (TANF), a $16 billion program set to expire on September 30, until December 11 of this yea...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​House Passes WOTUS Overreach Measure

On September 9, the House of Representatives successfully passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078) by a vote of 262-152. H.R. 5078, which passed with 227 Republican and 35 Democratic votes, would prevent the Administration's proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule from moving forward.  Additionally, the measure would require the agencies to consult and collaborate with state and local governments on the "Waters of the U.S." rule development process.  The agencies would be required to document the interactions, including those areas where consensus was reached – or not reached – and to submit a final report to Congress. 

The House-passed measure, which was threatened with a potential veto in a statement released by the White House before the vote, now faces an uncertain future in the Senate.  NACo members should contact their U.S. Senators and urge them to support H.R. 5078, or any bill that delays the rule-making process to allow for the resolution of issues with the proposed rule.

The proposed rule that prompted the introduction of H.R. 5078—Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean W...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​Potential Action on MITFA after November Elections

The Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act (MITFA) (S. 2609), which would combine two important county priorities, currently stands ready for floor action in the Senate.  MITFA, introduced in mid-July by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), would combine the Marketplace Fairness Act, which grants state and local governments the ability to enforce existing sales tax laws on remote sales, with a temporary extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), a law that prohibits state and local governments from taxing Internet access and is set to expire November 1, 2014. Although an extension of this prohibition is not ideal for county governments, NACo prefers a temporary extension of ITFA to permanent extensions proposed in other bills.

Despite MITFA’s readiness for floor consideration, it is unlikely that Senators, many of whom face time-consuming reelection battles, will tackle this complex issue before the upcoming midterm elections in November, especially since much work remains in the annual appropriations process. The more likely outcome is a short-term extension of ITFA to keep the law from lapsing when it expires in November, followed by potential considerat...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​U.S. DOT Announces 2014 TIGER Grant Awards

On September 12, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced $600 million in grant awards through the 2014 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. This round of awards will support 72 transportation projects, including $16 million for a Bus Rapid Transit project in Washoe County, Nev.; $14.8 million for a port project in Essex County, N.J.; $17.9 million for rural roadway improvements in Claiborne, Franklin and Jefferson Counties in Miss.; and $10 million for an interchange in Anoka County, Minn. Overall, county governments are direct recipients of 9 awards totaling $93.7 million in investment and are involved as partners on many more of the projects. For a full list of project awards, click here.

The TIGER program was originally created in 2009 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Since 2009, the program has provided more than $4.1 billion to transportation projects of national or regional significance. This latest round of funding continues to highlight the high level of demand for the program and the need for state and local transportation investments, with DOT r...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​EDA Announces FY 2014 Regional Innovation Grants Program

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s, Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced funding for the FY 2014 Regional Innovation Grants Program. This program, for which county governments are eligible, will enable regions across the country to develop regional innovation strategies and industry clusters, to develop globally competitive regions. The grant funding is part of EDA’s existing i6 Challenge and Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program.  Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate competitions:

  • ​FY 2014 i6 Challenge;
  • Science and Research Park Development Grants and
  • Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds.

Applicants may, but are not required to, submit proposals for more than one competition under the RIS Program. Applications are due by November 3, 2014.  Click here for information and program eligibility.

Contact: Daria Daniel at or 202.942.4212

6 weeks ago | 0

​Financial Regulators Adopt New Federal Banking Rules that Could Impact Counties

On September 3, federal regulators (Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) voted to adopt new banking rules which, in response to the 2008 financial crisis, imposed new liquidity standards on banks that may impact state and local borrowing.  Set to take effect January 1, 2016, the rules would require banks with at least $250 billion in assets to meet new liquidity requirements in an effort to ensure that large banks are capable of funding their operations for 30 days during times of fiscal stress. Under the rule, banks that meet the asset threshold must maintain designated levels of “high-quality liquid assets” (HQLA), i.e., assets that can be easily converted to cash.

NACo, along with other state and local government association, has urged regulators since the rule was first proposed in November 2013 to classify municipal securities as HQLA. By not classifying municipal securities as such, the rules would make them less appealing to banks, making it less likely for banks to underwrite the securities and ultimately increasing borrowing costs for sta...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​FCC Releases Order on Text-to-911

On August 13, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Order that requires commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers (i.e. cell phone providers) and other providers of interconnected text messaging applications (e.g. the popular messaging application WhatsApp), collectively referred to as “covered text providers,” to be capable of supporting text-to-911 by December 31, 2014. Covered text providers have until June 30, 2015 to begin delivering 911 text messages to public safety answering points (PSAPs) that have submitted a “valid PSAP request” for text-to-911 service on or before December 31, 2014.

County PSAPs that are technically ready to receive 911 text messages must certify in their valid PSAP request that:

  • the PSAP is technically ready to receive 911 messages;
  • the appropriate local or state 911 service governing authority has authorize the PSAP to accept text messages and, by extension, the text provider to provide text-to-911 messages; and
  • the PSAP has notified the text provider that it is both technically ready and authorized to receive text-to-911 messages. 

County PSAPs can submit their valid PSAP request through a central FCC database that will be developed in the coming months. County P...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​DATA Act Implementation Underway to Standardize Federal Financial Data

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), which was enacted in early 2014, builds on the Federal Funding and Transparency Act (FFATA), the primary motivation behind, which was created to increase transparency of federal spending by posting award data online. The DATA Act makes changes to FFATA by requiring the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the administrator of the General Services Administration and federal agency heads, to develop government-wide financial data standards for all federal funds. This is important to counties because both federal agencies and all recipients of federal funds would be required to adhere to the new standards.

In order to improve the usability, transparency and accountability of financial and performance information, the legislation directs that the standards must incorporate widely accepted existing standards, must be computer-readable and must include government-wide universal award identifiers so that individual awards can be tracked through its entire spending cycle. What this ultimately means for counties remains to be determined, but with specific timelines within which to achieve certain goals h...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​Coast Guard Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Increasing OPA Liability Limits

In the August 19 edition of the Federal Register, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would increase the liability limits for vessels, deepwater ports, and onshore facilities that spill oil in jurisdictional waters.  The cap would be raised 15.6 percent for onshore facilities and 8.2 percent for offshore and other structures. This increases liability under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, as amended (OPA 90) from $350 million to $404.6 million. The liability caps apply to economic damages in accidental spills. The company is responsible for all costs associated with clean up. Comments are due by October 20, 2014.

To submit comments, use one of the following methods and reference Docket No. USCG-2013-1006 in your comments:

  • Online:
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

To view the proposed ru...

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6 weeks ago | 0

NACo Joins Congressional Members in Capitol Hill Press Conference on the Importance of Investing in Water Infrastructure

rikiwater.png Picture (left) from left to right: Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.);Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio); Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City of San Diego; Karen Pallansch, CEO, Alexandria Renew Enterprises and President, National Association of Clean Water Agencies; Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and NACo President Riki Hokama. Picture (right): NACo President Riki Hokama stresses the critical role counties play in water infrastructure. Photo Credit: Max Taylor Photography 

On September 10, NACo President Riki Hokama (council member, Maui County, Hawaii) participated in a bipartisan press conference on Capitol Hill urging renewed investment in our nation’s water infrastructure.
President Hokama stressed the critical role of county governments in infrastructure. Not only do counties own the greatest share of America’s roads and bridges, but they also own a wide variety of public infrastructure, including drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems. In recent years, local governments and utilities have shouldered an increased financial burden to maintain and expand these systems.
Hokama said, “Investment in water infrastructure creates jobs, drives economic recovery and fosters counties’ ability to be resilient an...
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7 weeks ago | 0

Action Needed: Water of the U.S. Proposed Legislation

Action Needed

Urge Your U.S. House Members to Vote "YES" TODAY  

On the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Act of 2014, H.R. 5078

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote this afternoon on the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014, H.R. 5078.  Please urge your House Member to vote "yes" on the measure.

H.R. 5078 would prevent the Administration’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule from moving forward.  Additionally, it would require the agencies to consult and collaborate with state and local governments on the “Waters of the U.S.” rule development process.  The agencies would be required to document the interactions, including those areas where consensus was reached and not reached, and submit the final report to Congress. 

NACo asks counties to urge your member to vote “yes” on H.R. 5078.​

Background Information and Why This Issue Matters to Counties

The proposed rule that prompted the introduction of H.R. 5078—Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act— was released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Ag...
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2 months ago | 0

NACo's Fall Grassroots Webinar: The Tools You Need for Effective Advocacy in the Final Weeks of the 113th Congress

Action Needed 

NACo's Fall Grassroots Webinar: 
The Tools You Need for Effective Advocacy
 in the Final Weeks of the 113th Congress

Tuesday, September 9 at 4:00-5:00PM EDT

When members of Congress return in early September from their annual summer recess, the 113th Congress will enter its "home stretch." This is a crucial time for county officials to engage their members of Congress on issues important to counties across America. 

NACo's legislative staff will host a webinar on Tuesday, September 9 at 4:00PM EDT to provide county leaders with the most up-to-date information on counties' pending federal legislative priorities, including:
  • The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule
  • The Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools programs
  • Transportation reauthorization and the Highway Trust Fund
  • Online sales tax legislation / Marketplace Fairness Act
  • Tax-exempt municipal bonds

We hope you will join this webinar to get the knowledge and tools you need to advocate effectively on behalf of your county with members of Congress and the Administration at this critical juncture. 

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Hadi Sedigh at or 202.942.4213

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2 months ago | 0