The County Countdown – July 24, 2023
Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.
County leaders from across the country are currently attending the 2023 NACo Annual Conference and Exposition in Travis County, Texas. Over the weekend, NACo’s 10 policy steering committees met to discuss NACo’s policy priorities for the year ahead.
Watch the above video and explore NACo resources below on some of the top issues our members tackled at this year’s conference.
1. Addressing the mental health crisis
NACo’s Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing led discussions during the conference on best practices and intergovernmental partnerships that support the 988 Lifeline and crisis response, bolster the behavioral health workforce, and address exclusionary policies that often preclude effective behavioral health care options
- Why it matters: Effective behavioral health care systems reduce recidivism and other cyclical service utilization patterns, leading to better outcomes for all. Read the commission's recent report here.
- Read the County News recap of the Summit on Mental Health.
2. The 2023 Farm Bill
As the August recess begins, focus on Capitol Hill will turn to the 2023 Farm Bill, set for reauthorization this year but widely expected to be extended into early 2024.
- First step: Both the U.S. House and Senate are looking to release their respective drafts this summer
- Implications for counties: This bill has far-reaching effects on rural capacity building, Good Neighbor Authority and farm safety net programs.
3. Investing in local resiliency
As the frequency, severity and cost of natural disasters increases, counties are looking to invest available federal resources to help strengthen community resiliency.
- Why it matters: Enhancing local energy grids, critical infrastructure and households would improve our capacity to handle natural disasters and recover in their aftermath.
- What's next: Counties are tracking the implementation process of the Inflation Reduction Act and other federal legislation that would permanently reauthorize the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program.
- Read the County News recap of the Disaster Resiliency Summit.
4. Strengthening the county work force
Between an aging workforce and cultural shift towards a hybrid workplace, local government employment is one of only two sectors that have not returned to pre-COVID levels.
- Key stat: County governments employ more than one in 50 workers in America.
- Partnering on the solution: Counties and our federal partners can work to address this shortage by increasing federal investments in America’s workforce, modernizing the current national workforce development system, and eliminating barriers to education and employment.
5. AI and its potential impact on counties
NACo’s AI Exploratory Committee met in person for the first time at this year's conference, discussing emerging policies and the potential implications of AI on county governance, operations, constituent services, innovation, privacy and security.
- What's next: The committee will monitor Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s efforts during the August recess as he build out his AI framework.
- Stay up to date: Become a friend of the committee to receive updates on this important work.
Fremont County, Colorado Commissioner Dwayne McFall testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources, emphasizing the need for healthy federal forests.
On November 13, members of NACo's Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committees on Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The Commission called on Congress to support counties in delivering high-quality, assessible mental health services to address residents' comprehensive behavioral health needs in any mental health legislation package.