Michigan Helps Set National Priorities Affecting Rural America

Oct 18, 2011, 11:09 ET from Michigan Association of Counties

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2011  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Michigan county commissioners participated in the National Association of Counties' (NACo) Rural Action Caucus (RAC) annual meeting to establish the group's 2012 Legislative Priorities this past weekend.

Each year, the caucus identifies the most pressing issues facing rural America and brings them to the attention of Congressional leaders and key members of the administration to influence federal legislation, regulations and funding priorities affecting rural county government programs and services. This year's annual meeting was held Oct. 13-15 in Saginaw County (Frankenmuth), Mich. and brought county commissioners from 11 states across the country.

Legislative issues discussed included farm bill reauthorization, federal surface transportation reauthorization, rural healthcare, rural development funding, the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and the Secure Rural Schools & Self Determination Act.  The participants also analyzed the current fiscal crisis and its implications for rural America.

Four Michigan county commissioners attended this year's meeting. Michigan Association of Counties' 1st vice president Thomas Barwell, Tuscola County, who is also the vice chair of the Rural Action Caucus; Jerry Peterson, Tuscola County; Michael O'Hare, Saginaw County; and Dennis Krafft, Saginaw County.

Attendees interacted with policy experts who helped RAC strategize on its priorities, including key staff for Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Sen. Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.  Other special guest speakers included corporate partners from Michigan Farm Bureau, Microsoft and NACo's Prescription Discount Card Program.

"It's important that rural counties work together with our state and federal government partners to promote economic growth and find practical solutions to our common challenges," said Bardwell. "Working through NACo's Rural Action Caucus is an important part of our efforts here in Tuscola County to do just that."

NACo's Rural Action Caucus is the voice for America's rural counties in Washington.  It is a bipartisan coalition of rural elected officials, who strive to enhance the quality of life in rural counties through effective federal legislation.  The caucus is not only the advocacy arm of the organization, but also serves as the conduit for technical and programmatic assistance through the NACo County Services Department.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States.  Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation's 3,068 counties.  NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public's understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.  For more information about NACo, visit www.naco.org.

SOURCE Michigan Association of Counties