Conference important to commissioners
On March 3-8, Commissioner John Martin and I traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National Association of County Officials’ (NACO) Legislative Conference. John participates in the Public Lands Committee, and I am a member of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee.I attended two days of committee meetings, where we discussed renewable energy resources, the concerns and approach to dealing with molds in buildings, wetlands restoration – coastal and inland, smart growth and block zoning, and e-scrap (computer recycling). Additionally we spent time discussing concerns the coastal states have with respect to restoration of levees, rebuilding and what kind of financial resources are needed in the long- and short-term.On Monday I spent the day meeting with Sen. Salazar’s and Rep. Salazar’s respective staff to discuss their support of requiring the use of best practices and state-of-the-art technology when extracting natural gas in residential areas and environmentally sensitive locales; the importance of analyzing the impact and value of producing oil shale prior to moving from the research and development stage to commercial leasing; concern over selling public lands, and, if this program moves forward, the importance of working with local officials to critically evaluate each parcel of federal land that may be identified for sale prior to taking any action and, finally, we discussed transportation funding needs. On Wednesday, commissioners attending the conference from Colorado met with all of our Colorado congressional delegation throughout the day to discuss more universal issues including re-authorizing Social Services and Workforce Legislation; the preservation of the Community Development Block Grant Program; full funding for PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) for counties with public lands; preservation of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (which provides revenue to those counties that no longer receive receipts from timber sales, supporting a long-term revenue source, not through proceeds from the sale of public lands); concerns on the timing of initiating the deadlines outlined in the Help America Vote Act; and maintaining the current status of funding for youth residential treatment centers.NACO offered a wide variety of workshops that I attended, including sessions on: sustainable community planning and development, methamphetamine education and prevention, transportation funding, homeland security and energy.As a member of the Women of NACO network I participated in a call to action with the Foundation for National Women Legislators on March 8, which was International Women’s Day. Our mutual goal is Action over Reaction – Communication before Crisis, stressing a communication structure between all levels of government. Because Garfield County is impacted by decisions made at the federal level, I believe that the annual county commissioners’ week in D.C. is important, productive and informative. Please let me know if you have additional national concerns you would like to have communicated.Trsi Houpt is a Garfield County Commissioner. She lives in Glenwood Springs.
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