County Countdown – Nov. 20, 2023

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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 on some of the top issues we're covering this week.

1. Mental Health

NACo continues to champion mental health policies in Congress to support counties and residents.

  • Continuity of care: A recent letter to leaders on Capitol Hill reiterated county priorities in mental health, including urging passage of the Due Process Continuity of Care Act, advocating for Medicaid benefits for pre-trial detainees.
  • Workforce development: The letter also pushed for increased funding for programs to recruit and retain behavioral health workers.
  • What’s next: NACo’s Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing is working with Congress to reform mental health policies that exclude vulnerable populations.

2. Operation Green Light

Thank you to the hundreds of counties, plus our intergovernmental partners, businesses and individuals, who participated in Operation Green Light for Veterans.

  • Bipartisan support: Congressional resolutions in both the House and Senate recognized Operation Greenlight and the vital role of County Veterans Services Officers (CVSOs).
  • CVSO Act: In 29 states, county-funded CVSOs help veterans access over $50B annually in VA benefits. NACo urges the passage of the CVSO Act to secure federal resources to support this work.
  • Explore highlights: Check out the Operation Green Light showcase for pictures submitted by counties – and submit yours!

3. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

As we mark the two-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), NACo is ensuring that counties have a voice in its implementation.

4. Support for Rural America

U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced the Rural Partnership and Prosperity Act.

  • Addressing community needs: The bill would create a grant program to address needs like affordable child care, housing and job training, as well as providing guidance to help rural communities navigate existing funding opportunities.
  • NACo's endorsement: NACo urges swift passage of this legislation, which will enable rural counties to optimize federal resources.

5. American Rescue Plan

The U.S. Treasury Department introduced a new rule clarifying counties' use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, further extending the reach of these resources.

Key points for counties: Counties can now allocate funds for administrative costs tied to ARPA reporting and compliance.
Clarifying responsibilities: Details on managing sub-recipient obligations offer counties more flexibility for effective resource utilization.

Dive deeper on ARPA: Explore all of NACo’s ARPA resources here.

Featured this Week

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NACo Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing

Launched in February 2023, the NACo Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing brings together county leaders from across the nation to take action to address the ever-growing mental health crisis from the county government perspective.

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County News

Highlights from 2023 Operation Green Light for Veterans

Counties across the country are joining Operation Green Light for Veterans  to shine a light on the issues veterans face and highlight the resources available to veterans at the county, state and federal levels.

Warren, Ohio

Senators introduce bipartisan legislation to level playing field for rural communities

Senators introduced the Rural Partnership and Prosperity Act, bipartisan legislation intended to advance economic development in rural counties and overcome barriers to obtaining federal funding and resources. 

Related News


NACo commission on mental health sends letter to Congress

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. 

Senate Agriculture Committee staffer Mikayla Bodey describes the coalition of groups — agriculture, nutrition, forestry and rural development — with an interest in the farm bill.  Photo by Charlie Ban
County News

Rural Action Caucus panel games out farm bill potential

Stories from county officials help members of Congress understand funding needs during negotiations for the next farm bill, which affects a wide swath of rural priorities.

Warren, Ohio

Senators introduce bipartisan legislation to level playing field for rural communities

Senators introduced the Rural Partnership and Prosperity Act, bipartisan legislation intended to advance economic development in rural counties and overcome barriers to obtaining federal funding and resources. 

Lisa Macon Harrison, director of the Granville Vance Public Health District in North Carolina, describes the landmines inherent in small rural communities that can serve as barriers to effective treatment for substance use disorders. Photo by Charlie Ban
County News

Recovery requires ‘whole person’ care

Elected officials can help promote the use of a more holistic approach to combatting substance use disorder. 

Ryan Thorn (center) USDA Rural Development director for West Virginia, discusses the details of the Rural Development program. (L-r): Shawn Milne, Cache County, Utah; Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, U.S. Department of Labor; Thorn and Barbara Dawes, West Virginia Workforce Development Board. Photo by Sheena Pendley
County News

Lack of broadband, housing challenge rural counties on workforce development

Although the lack of broadband, transit, childcare and housing are all stacked against rural counties as they develop the kind of robust workforce that can attract business, planning and relationships between state and local government can help alleviate some of those challenges. 

Upcoming Events

Barnstable County, Mass.

Counties Supporting Veterans: Operation Green Light and Beyond

Join this webinar to hear how county leaders advocated for veterans and learn how purchasing supplies from veteran-owned businesses can be part of your year-round smart buying strategy.


Investment Policy Transformations: Paving the Way for County Financial Prosperity

Don't miss the opportunity to transform your county's financial future! Join for an inspiring discussion that will empower you to make a real difference. Register now and be part of the change that transforms counties for the better!

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NACo Opioid Settlement Summit: Opportunities for County, State & Federal Partnership

This event will bring together leaders from all levels of government to discuss effective strategies for investing opioid settlement funds and to explore opportunities to strengthen intergovernmental coordination in our nation’s response to the opioid epidemic. 

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Care Coordination for Improved Population Behavioral Health

We invite you to join this presentation to discover proven solutions and compelling success metrics from other counties.