Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Tue, Oct. 20

County Supervisor helps counties "Restore the Partnership" with federal government

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Coconino County District 5 Supervisor Louise Yellowman brought the concerns of Coconino County to the nation's capital as part of the National Association of Counties' (NACo) 2008 Legislative Conference on March 1-5. The theme of this year's conference was "Restore the Partnership."

Yellowman is a member of the NACo Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs (FIGA) Steering Committee, which acts on all matters pertaining to the financial resources of counties; fiscal management; federal assistance; municipal borrowing; county revenues; federal budget; federal tax reforms; and Native issues.

NACo President Eric Coleman, who is also a County Commissioner in Oakland County, Mich., led more than 2,000 elected and appointed county officials during the conference to help strengthen the voice of county government in the nation's capital and "Restore the Partnership" with Congress and the administration.

For decades, the county and federal governments have worked together to answer the challenges facing the nation. But in recent years, that partnership has begun to wane. To combat this, NACo has launched the 2008 Presidential Election Project to get each candidate to commit to restoring the federal-county partnership and to address the problems facing counties and their residents. During the 2008 Legislative Conference, participating county officials helped to bring that message to Capitol Hill.

"I want to thank every elected and appointed county official who participated in this year's Legislative Conference in the nation's capital," Coleman said. "I am so proud of the men and women who represent county governments all across the country who came to Washington this week to help strengthen the voice of county government."

During the five-day conference, NACo members discussed legislative issues and programs important to counties and communities, met with members of Congress, attended professional development and educational workshops, and heard from nationally prominent political leaders and commentators.

"The conference was once again a success; thanks to the organizers for a job well done," Yellowman said.

"Along with county government officials from all areas of the United States, I attended this conference to advocate for legislation that affects constituents back at home," said Yellowman.

"One great point of concern is the FIGA Steering Committee Proposed Resolution on Lands taken into Trust, concerning the acquisition of trust lands by the U. S. Department of Interior and proposing policy to support federal legislation and administrative action that lands are not to be placed into trust and removed from the land use jurisdiction of local governments without adequate notice and meaningful consultation with the affected counties. The Bureau of Indian Affairs should deny applications to take land into trust when it determines that these applications do not adequately mitigate for impacts to affected communities. This resolution was tabled after several attempts to amend it.

"Also, the FIGA Steering Committee Proposed Resolution was of great concern, whereas consideration and mitigation of the impact on counties of Indian gaming was the issue. However, it was adopted on March 3, 2008," said Yellowman.

Yellowman explained, "The two resolutions greatly impact our sovereignty and no consultations were made with Native American tribes prior to proposing these resolutions. These are totally unmerited actions. During the FIGA Steering Committee meeting, I took a strong stance to oppose these two proposed resolutions."

In addition, Yellowman stated, "I encourage all Native American tribes to research, stand, and lobby with their elected officials to oppose any further actions to the FIGA Steering Committee Proposed Resolution on Lands taken into Trust."

The primary purpose of the Legislative Conference is for county officials who sit on NACo's eleven steering committees to review and make recommendations on issues and legislation important to counties and communities. The policy development process initiated by the steering committees leads to the publication of the American County Platform, which NACo uses as a guide to deliver the county government message to the administration, Congress and the American public.

NACo's steering committees consider issues such as justice and public safety, agriculture and rural affairs, taxes, environment and energy, telecommunications, economic and community development, health care, human services, education, labor and employment, public lands, and transportation. In addition, NACo has organized caucuses to perform targeted advocacy efforts focused on specific needs of large urban counties and rural counties. The Rural Action Caucus and the Large Urban County Caucus adopt their priority issues from NACo's Legislative Platform. In addition, several pre-conference seminars designed to help county officials strengthen their leadership skills were held.

For more information, contact Supervisor Yellowman at (928) 283-4518; or e-mail lyellowman@coconino.az.gov.

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