County Countdown – March 5, 2024

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Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.

Watch the video above and explore NACo resources below.

1. Legislative Conference Wrap-Up

Thank you to all NACo Legislative Conference participants. We delved into pressing county issues and enhanced our collaborative efforts with federal leaders. Resources and session recordings are now accessible online.

2. Affordable Connectivity Program

The end of new enrollments for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) underscores the need for immediate legislative action to maintain this critical service, currently set to end in April.

  • About the ACP: This program helps ensure more than 23 million households can afford reliable broadband service.
  • Legislative action: NACo is advocating for the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act.
  • In the short-term, we urge lawmakers to attach funding for this program to the upcoming appropriations legislation that Congress will consider in the coming weeks.

3. Highway Trust Fund

The Congressional Budget Office's projection calls for urgent attention to the Highway Trust Fund to ensure sustainable federal transportation funding.

  • Changing dynamics: As gas tax revenues decline due to increased vehicle fuel efficiency and a growing number of electric vehicles, the size of the Highway Trust Fund is diminishing.
  • Future planning: With the 2026 surface transportation authorization on the horizon, counties are seeking a comprehensive solution for the fund's longevity.
  • County advocacy: Counties urge Congress to reexamine the fund and develop a permanent fix.

4. WOTUS Rule Analysis

NACo's regulatory analysis of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule highlights potential impacts on county water infrastructure management and policy.

  • “Waters of the United States” is a phrase used in the Clean Water Act to determine which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction. However, that exact definition has been the subject of decades of litigation and legislation.
  • Regulatory insights: Explore the implications of the WOTUS rule for local water policies through our new analysis.

5. Enhancing the 9-8-8 Lifeline

Since its launch in July 2022, the 9-8-8 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline has received and routed about 8.6 million calls, texts and chats. These millions of residents hope to connect quickly with someone, usually a county service provider, who can help.

  • What is geolocation: Unlike calls to 9-1-1, calls to the 9-8-8 Lifeline are routed by the caller's area code, not the caller's actual location. This can result in precious minutes lost when connecting a caller to the right services or simply failing to help that person at all.
  • Legislative fix: Counties support the Local 9-8-8 Response Act, bipartisan legislation that aims to expedite the process by connecting callers to their nearest call center.
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Support the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024

Urge your members of Congress to support the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024 to provide $7 billion in funding for the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program and keep the program operational throughout the remainder of 2024.


New CBO projection shows Highway Trust Fund status continues to worsen without congressional action

In February, the Congressional Budget Office released an updated 10-year baseline projection for the federal Highway Trust Fund that shows the fund will continue to decline significantly over the next decade without action from lawmakers. 


The Conforming Rule: The Waters of the United States

The definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) directly impacts county governments as owners and operators of local infrastructure.

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Support the Local 9-8-8 Response Act

Urge your members of Congress to support the Local 9-8-8 Response Act. Introduced by Sens. Alex Padilla and Thom Tillis and Rep. Tony Cárdenas in the 118th Congress, this legislation would seek to improve access to and accuracy of the 9-8-8 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by requiring calls and messages to be routed by the call center geographically closest to the caller, rather than by area code.

Related News

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County Countdown – May 20, 2024

Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.

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Senate Rules Committee considers elections and AI legislation ahead of 2024 General Elections

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U.S. Senate eyes funding the Affordable Connectivity Program through broader telecommunications package

The ACP is under a short timeline to receive additional funding. After May 31, all 23 million enrolled households will cease to receive any benefit from the program. Several Senate proposals could lead to expedited passage of funding to save the program.

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Press Release

Local Government Leaders Urge Congress to Protect Recovery Fund Flexibility

The National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities and the Government Finance Officers Association issued a statement urging Congress to oppose a Congressional Review Act joint resolution.


UPDATED: FAA authorization signed into law

President Biden signs 2024 FAA reauthorization into law on May 16, 2024.

Upcoming Events

Harris County, Texas Commissioner Adrian Garcia describes how no zoning does not necessarily mean no problems when it comes to promoting housing affordability. Photo by Josh Reed

Robert's Rules 101: Mastering the Basics

Robert’s Rules can help you run an efficient, effective meeting – who wouldn’t want that! This virtual workshop, a part of the County Leadership Curriculum, teaches the basics of Robert's Rules and how to apply them.


Transitions of Care in Mental Health

In this presentation, we will: define a successful transition of care for adults with schizophrenia, review barriers to a successful transition, highlight specific examples of successful transitional care programs, explore how a multidisciplinary/collaborative approach can support successful transitions, and identify actionable strategies for potential implementation.


Building a Behavioral Health Continuum of Care: The Role of Rural Leaders and Behavioral Health Directors

This webinar is hosted by the National Association of Counties (NACo) in partnership with the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Development Disability Directors (NACBHDD).