An example of how NACo’s policy process can help change the direction of federal policy, is present in in the 2018 omnibus legislation. The legislation provided counties with financial certainty across numerous sectors. This collection of appropriations bills that spread across the government saw a funds increase in numerous NACo priorities such Payment In lieu of Taxes funding, the Community Development Block Grant program and increased resources to combat the opioid crisis.
In the transportation realm, an increase in TIGER funds made headlines. What didn’t make headlines, however, was a rider in the transportation section that could positively affect agriculture-producing counties across the country.
At NACo’s recent Legislative Conference in Washington, Montezuma and Rio Blanco counties in Colorado jointly sponsored a resolution addressing a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provision that regulated the electronic logging of trucking hours.
Unlike other trucking sectors, agricultural and livestock transporting includes far more than just the physical transport of goods to market. The electronic logging device does not take into account time spent loading and unloading livestock. The resolution requested an agricultural exemption to this rule and was adopted as an interim policy position by NACo’s Board of Directors.
Representatives from FMCSA were also at the conference briefing members of the Transportation Steering Committee where they took notice of the resolution.
In the final omnibus signed into law by President Trump, this agricultural exemption was included through FY2018. “While not permanent, it is without question the largest step the agency has taken to signal this rule could someday become permanent,” said Kevan Stone, NACo’s associate legislative director for transportation.