AOC President and Polk County Commissioner Craig Pope and AOC Executive Director Mike McArthur attended the National Council of County Association Executives – Presidents and Executive Directors meeting in Washington, DC January 9th to 11th.
The state presidents and executives heard from NACo Executive Director Matt Chase who gave an update on NACo activities along with NACo Legislative Director Deborah Cox who presented a look at the upcoming session of Congress and what is happening with federal policies that impact counties. Juliet Eilperin, a correspondent for the Washington Post, outlined the ever changing landscape between elected officials and the news media in our Nation’s Capital. In addition, two Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, both of them former county officials, talked about their efforts to examine the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of energy infrastructure. The state presidents and executives also had briefings on the current benefits NACo provides to member counties.
The meeting was an opportunity for state presidents and executives to network and share experiences from their states. President Pope and Director McArthur fielded many questions about the impacts of Oregon’s marijuana program. Attendees received a briefing on counties law suits against the opioid industry which are being initiated by local governments in many states.
In addition to meetings with state association presidents and executives from across the nation, President Pope and Director McArthur used the opportunity to visit with six of Oregon’s members of Congress and staff from all seven offices. President Pope described the meetings as positive and productive saying, “It was time well spent and members of Congress know we can help them as they help us.”
At the AOC Legislative Committee meeting January 8th, President Pope and Director McArthur were given direction to take draft legislation that would change the classification of marijuana to the Congressional offices for possible action. Marijuana is a topic of huge interest on Capitol Hill these days, and the draft legislation was well received as something that could be discussed seriously in the coming year. Oregon’s Congressional Delegation and staff asked very specific questions about the draft legislation and what would happen during the upcoming session of the Oregon Legislature regarding marijuana.
President Pope and Director McArthur also informed Oregon’s Congressional delegation and staff about the proposed resolution Oregon counties are preparing to introduce for action at the upcoming NACo Legislative Conference in March and have it voted on at the annual NACo Conference next summer. For more information on draft marijuana legislation and the NACo resolution, please visit AOC’s marijuana webpage.
Another hot topic for Oregon’s Congressional offices is wildfire. Funding for fighting fires, managing federal forests, cooperation between federal, state and local agencies were all discussed. On this subject, our members of Congress and their staff had a request – please ask Oregon county officials to contact their friends, family and colleagues in other states and impress upon them the importance of writing their members of Congress urging them to take action on federal forest issues.
Of particular concern to several Oregon Congressional offices, the lack of Congressional oversight of several of the federal agencies that have to deal with federal forests. Getting more members of Congress involved in federal forest issues can lead to solutions out there, but not yet implemented.
Contributed by: Eric Schmidt | AOC Consultant