In addition to platform revisions, county officials adopted a number of new policy positions, dealing with issues from New Taxes on Health Care Benefits to Mitigation Funds for Wildfires. Following is a list of the newest policy resolutions adopted at the NACo Annual Business Meeting, July 22.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Photos by David Hathcox
Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee Vice Chair Penny Gross, Fairfax County, Va., presents her committee’s policy recommendations to the Board of Directors.
• International Economic Development and Offshore Manufacturing
Issue: Economic Development is a key issue for many counties across the nation and with high unemployment still in existence, jobs are a priority. However, too many companies are moving from one state to another without a net increase to the overall U.S. economy.
Adopted Policy: NACo would like the federal government to encourage businesses to move manufacturing back to the states from offshore. This can be done through a variety of incentives. NACo is open to working with the federal and county governments to find the right way to incentivize this initiative.
ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY AND LAND USE
• U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 Permit Program
Issue: Administration of Clean Water Act (CWA) s404 Permit Program for routine maintenance.
Adopted Policy: NACo urges the federal government to improve the CWA s404 permit process by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); remove routine maintenance of human-made public flood protection facilities from the s404 permit process when no endangered species habitat present; and extend the (CWA) general permit term for routine maintenance from five to 10 years. This proposal does not apply when endangered species are present in the maintenance area.
• The National Conversation on Mental Health
Issue: County role in the National Conversation on Mental Health.
Adopted Policy: NACo supports the goals of the Administration’s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness about mental health and to identify ways to reduce stigma, and to expand coverage and improve access to mental health services, especially for young people and veterans. NACo calls on the Administration to recognize counties as essential partners in these efforts and for counties to be engaged and invited to the table as national and local conversations are developed and implemented.
• Repealing and Replacing the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program
Issue: The Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program threatens small, rural home medical equipment supplier businesses and access to home care for beneficiaries in rural counties.
Adopted Policy: NACo opposes the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program and calls for repeal of the program. NACo supports the alternative Market Pricing Program (MPP), an improved bidding system developed by the medical equipment industry and supported by economists. The MPP will cut Medicare rates for home medical equipment to a responsible level and allow all providers to participate at those rates regardless of the bidding process.
Elizabeth Blanchard, commissioner, Merrimack County, N.H., questions speaker at Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee meeting.
HUMAN SERVICES AND EDUCATION
• Reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant
Issue: The Child Care and Development Block Grant expires at the end of the fiscal year.
Adopted Policy: NACo supports a reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which includes enhanced program flexibility, and s increased access to quality and safe child care.
• International Collection of Child Support Obligations
Issue: Congress is considering legislation to streamline and make more uniform the process for collecting child support obligations from non-custodial parents living outside the United States.
Adopted Policy: NACo urges Congress to enact legislation implementing the 2007 Hague Treaty Convention, which contains procedures that ratifying countries must follow to process international child support cases in a uniform, simple, efficient, and accessible manner that is cost-free to U.S. citizens seeking support in other countries.
JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY
• Supporting Legislation to Provide Mitigation Funds for Certain Areas Affected by Wildfires
Issue: Support for Legislation Providing Mitigation Funds for Certain Areas Affected by Wildfires
Adopted Policy: NACo supports legislation that provides dedicated mitigation funds by allowing the use of up to 15 percent of the cost of a Fire Mitigation Assistance Grant (FMAG) to support wildfire mitigation projects.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
• Biggert–Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and FEMA Mapping Procedures
Issue: Changes made to the National Flood Insurance Program and the release of inaccurate flood maps are causing dramatic increases in the cost of flood insurance.
Adopted Policy: NACo supports a sustainable, fiscally responsible National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that protects the businesses and homeowners who built according to code and have followed all applicable laws. NACo urges Congress to amend the Biggert-Waters Act to keep flood insurance rates affordable while balancing the fiscal solvency of the program. NACo urges Congress to reinstate grandfathering of properties (not policies) that were built to code, have maintained insurance or have not repeatedly flooded for example, and to implement rate structures that reflect an economically reasonable rate.
• Resolution Supporting the Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2013
Issue: The theft of specified metal.
Adopted Policy: NACo urges Congress to pass legislation supporting action to prohibit the stealing of specified metal, which would affect interstate and foreign commerce.
• Resolution on an Alternative Restructuring of Homeland Security Grants
Issue: Establishing fiscally sound adjustments to homeland security grant programs that will continue to enhance the nation’s capabilities to meet the challenges posed to counties by emergencies and disasters of all types.
Adopted Policy: NACo applauds the efforts of the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security to streamline the grant system and build a more fiscally responsible and sustainable program. However, NACo opposes the Homeland Security Grant Vision put forth by the Secretary in FY12 and FY13. NACo proposes an alternative that will better address the needs of all levels of government, and that does not discard the advances created by the past grants. We propose consolidation of the current homeland security grants into two programs:
- National Preparedness Program — A compilation of all current homeland security grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (except as below), based on realistic risk to each state from all hazards including but not limited to terrorism, grants would be made to each state in order to sustain and enhance resilience and the ability to help other jurisdictions. Prioritization and allocation decisions to be made by the State Administrative Agency in transparent consultation and consent of local governments, and continuing to require that no less than 80 percent of these funds be passed to local government based on their realistic risk.
- Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) — Specific additional funding to the 25 urban areas at greatest risk of disastrous event (of all hazards including terrorism) in light of the significant populations and economic drives located in these areas. Again, the program would be jointly administered by the State Administrative Agency and the existing UASI organizational units and continuing to require that no less than 80 percent of these funds be passed through to the urban areas.
NACo will work with Congress and the other stakeholders to prepare updated legislative language to accomplish these goals.
LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT
• Resolution Opposing New Taxes on Health Care Benefits
Issue: The possible application of the excise tax provided in the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) to health insurance for county employees as well as the expansion of taxation on employer-provided health benefits.
Commissioner Michael McKee, Uintah County, Utah, listens intently to the policy debate at the Public Lands Steering Committee.
Adopted Policy: NACo opposes the taxation of health insurance benefits to county employees through the application of the ACA excise tax on health insurance benefits for county employees, the capping of the tax exclusion for employer-based defined contributions made by counties and any new taxes which would apply to the health benefits that counties provide to their employees.
• Resolution Supporting Funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program
Issue: Long-term funding source for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program (PILT).
Adopted Policy: Except for instances in which acquisition of private land may be necessary to comply with provisions of the Endangered Species Act, or acquisitions are supported by the local government of the affected area. NACo supports designating the use of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as a sustainable source of funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, with formula modification that would comply with NACo policy & policy #13 of the Federal Land Management & Policy Act of 1976. NACo further supports full funding of annual LWCF appropriations without reductions to state mineral lease funds, if PILT is fully funded through the LWCF fund.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY
• Resolution Supporting Deployment of Next Gen 911
Issue: Allowing 911 call centers to receive Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates along with text messages.
Adopted Policy: NACo opposes efforts to impose unfunded mandates on local governments, but supports the voluntary use of text messaging to 911 and encourages the sending of GPS coordinates with text and SMS messaging when using 911.