County commissioners and judges from 17 Oregon counties joined more than 3,000 county leaders July 13-16 in Nashville/Davidson County, Tenn. at the 83rd National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference and Exposition. Attendees adopted positions on pressing federal policies affecting counties and exchanged innovative solutions to challenges facing American communities.

NACo Immediate Past President Roy Charles Brooks unveiled NACo’s annual report recapping the year’s accomplishments, including several significant federal policy victories and his presidential initiative Serving the Underserved.

Serving the Underserved has showcased counties’ critical role in breaking multi-generational cycles of poverty, especially by focusing on early childhood development and understanding the long-lasting impacts of adverse childhood experiences and trauma,” said Brooks. “We are creating new opportunities for our most vulnerable residents and advancing comprehensive solutions at the state and local levels.”

More than three dozen educational workshops and meetings explored topics including affordable housing, technology, reducing the number of mentally ill individuals in jails, the opioid epidemic, disaster preparedness and recovery and other topics important to counties across the country.

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury was a speaker in a day-long workshop focused on affordable housing. This forum brought counties and stakeholders together to discuss cutting-edge solutions to address the growing shortage of affordable housing in counties of all sizes.

Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr was a speaker in a session focused on criminal justice and behavioral health. The session discussed the importance of establishing effective connections to important services for justice-involved populations, including linkages to housing, behavioral health treatment, health care and employment assistance to improve public safety and increase health and well-being.

Other notable speakers included U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman, representatives from the Trump Administration and National Football League (NFL) famed athlete and entrepreneur Eddie George.

Conference delegates discussed federal policy and legislation on a wide range of key topics like transportation and infrastructure; rural and urban development; energy; federal public lands and active forest management; public safety; emergency preparedness and response; housing and community development; health and other topics.

At the conference’s conclusion, county leaders adopted the American County Platform, which sets NACo’s federal policy agenda for the coming year.

Oregon submitted two policy resolutions and one platform change for consideration by the NACo membership. Topics included: opposition of material preference legislation to support local control of water infrastructure procurement decisions, support for 42 CFR privacy provisions to allow information sharing between behavioral health and law enforcement for jail diversion, and Federal responsibility for drug control focused on respecting states’ right to decriminalize cannabis under state law. The two policy resolutions and one platform change were approved during the NACo Annual Business meeting.

More information about the conference is available here.

Contributed by: Mckenzie Farrell | Communications Manager