NACo urges Congress to include county priorities in COVID-19 legislative response

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NACo sends letter to congressional leadership highlighting county priorities in COVID-19 response legislation To address the crisis, counties need more testing, equipment and funding for public & behavioral health, as well as clarity from the federal government

On March 17, NACo sent a letter to U.S. House and U.S. Senate leadership urging the inclusion of key county priorities in legislative proposals to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress is expected to consider a third legislative response package to stem the pandemic’s impact on the nation’s health care system and economy, following approval of an initial $8.3 billion emergency aid package earlier this March (H.R. 6074) and a second comprehensive response package (H.R. 6201). These proposals – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074) – contain significant federal investments and program flexibility to enhance counties’ ability to protect residents from the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the pandemic’s impact on our communities.

NACo’s letter, which can be viewed at this link, urged the inclusion of a comprehensive set of provisions that would enhance counties’ response to this emergency. Recommendations outlined in the letter include:

  • Deployment of testing equipment;
  • Access to and distribution of personal protective equipment for essential county service providers;
  • Clarification on FEMA resources and additional funding;
  • Maintenance of robust behavioral and mental health services;
  • Strengthen the local health care safety-net;
  • Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) moratorium;
  • Emergency funding for publicly-funded child care, Head Start and Early Head Start;
  • Provide greater certainty for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program;
  • Restore advance refunding bonds;
  • Increase access to capital for small borrowers;
  • Clarify tax credits for paid sick and paid family and medical leave for county employers;
  • Mandatory funding for Payments In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT);
  • Expand use of Secure Rural Schools (SRS);
  • Preserve local emergency communications networks;
  • Increase broadband access;
  • Funding and flexibility for elections;
  • Funding for critical housing programs;
  • Return solvency to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF);
  • Authorize and appropriate funding for the Public Transportation Emergency Relief (PTER) Program (49 U.S.C. 5324);
  • Uncap the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) and index it to inflation;
  • Allow flexibility in hiring;
  • Fully fund programs that support local airports; and
  • Increase the local share of the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP).

For more NACo resources on the coronavirus, please see the following links:

About Mark Ritacco (Full Bio)

Deputy Director of Government Affairs

Mark Ritacco joined NACo in March 2020 and serves as deputy director of government affairs. He directs NACo’s Government Affairs Department which includes legislative and executive branch outreach, coalition building and advocacy on behalf of the association’s legislative priorities and policy development. 

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