Bobbitt Delivers Message to Capitol Hill

Federal Policies matter to Counties and Counties matter to America

Grant County Commissioner Cindy Bobbitt speaks at a Hill Briefing on the importance of a strong federal-state-local partnership for the foundation for American infrastructure. 

America’s infrastructure, multigenerational poverty, the opioid crisis and agriculture issues were just some of the important topics that nearly 2,000 elected and appointed county officials tackled as they gathered March 3-7 for National Association of Counties’ (NACo) 2018 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.  The conference came less than a month after President Donald Trump signed a massive two-year budget agreement.

Grant County Commissioner Cindy Bobbitt attended the conference, meeting with administrative leadership and congressional representative on Capitol Hill to deliver the message that federal policies matter to counties and that counties matter to America.

Two NACo briefings were held March 6, on Capitol Hill: “America’s Counties: The Foundation for American Infrastructure” featured U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Committee on Transportation Infrastructure.  Bobbitt, NACo Vice Chair of Transportation, spoke on the importance of a federal-state-local partnership.  (Recording of briefing can be seen here:

Graves said funding an infrastructure package is the transportation committee’s top priority after Federal Aviation Authority reauthorization, but he expected the congressional infrastructure deal to be notably different from President Trump’s proposal. Graves added he wanted to avoid any funding mechanism that would present motorists with a single tax bill at the end of the year, crediting fuel taxes with the pay-as-you-go method. But he was not otherwise enthusiastic about fuel taxes’ viability as automobile technology improves.

“I have a problem with fuel taxes anyway because we have a lot of vehicles on the road that aren’t buying gas or are hybrids and fuel efficiency is getting better and better all the time. It’s regressive,” Graves said.

Bobbitt shared examples of federal-state-local partnership in Oklahoma including the deconstruction of the I-40 Crosstown bridge beams that were repurposed on county bridges and the Tulsa Port of Catoosa that was funded with local tax-exempt municipal bond.

The second briefing looked at “Improving Lives and Outcomes at the Local Level: How Counties are Tackling Multigenerational Cycles of Poverty” featuring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Human Resources, Committee on Ways and Means.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (left) meets with NACo leaders to discuss how the growing numbers of federal regulations and mandates have significantly impacted counties and our residents.

NACo leaders also met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and select members of his leadership team to emphasize the pivotal role that counties play as regulators and regulated entities in the federal regulatory process.

Pruitt said, “I appreciate the great dialogue with member of NACo about new and existing ways we can partner together to achieve positive environmental outcomes for communities across the country.”

During the meeting Bobbitt addressed streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review for smaller scale projects to be more efficient with taxpayer funds.  She said that counties support goals of the administration plan for a “one agency, one decision” environmental review to shrink the timeline to a two-year maximum time for permit processes.

“Counties could and would benefit from removing sometimes duplicated processes that causes delay and increases costs waiting for federal approval,” said Bobbitt. “Less time waiting equals financial savings for projects.”

Administration officials and other speakers addressing NACo members at the General Sessions included Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao and Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin on Monday, March 5 and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long, retired Gen. Stan McChrystal and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross on Tuesday, March 6.

Secretary Elaine Chao meets with NACo Transportation leaders to talk about county priorities

 

 

 

NACo held a press conference in support of Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), featuring several members of Congress. In partnership with Public Technologies Institute (PTI), NACo also conducted two town halls on fighting the opioid epidemic using technology (including updates on opioid-related litigation) and delved into the power of fake ads, autonomous vehicles and healthy communities.